Clemson ranked No. 3 by Playoff committee going into championship weekend
Clemson is currently projected to the Fiesta Bowl versus LSU by CBS Sports.

Clemson ranked No. 3 by Playoff committee going into championship weekend

by - Staff Writer -

Dabo Swinney has had his say lately about the 12-0 Clemson Tigers and their position in the Playoff conversation. The College Football Playoff committee remained unmoved on its top-two in its penultimate rankings on Tuesday, however.

Clemson was ranked No. 3, following Ohio State and LSU with Georgia at No. 4 and Utah and Oklahoma on the outside-looking in for the top-four currently.

Committee chair Rob Mullens says ranked wins are separating the top-three right now.

"We spend considerable time talking about that top-three," Mullens said on ESPN. "Clemson's a great team and been very dominant -- their last seven games extremely impressive. The difference between one, two and three is just the wins against top-25 opponents. Ohio State with their fourth win against a ranked opponent this weekend, LSU with their impressive resume -- those are the separators from one, two and three...

"There is plenty of conversation about Clemson but their schedule is just different. When you start to rack them up and see schedule strength, you see those teams at one and two that have wins against ranked opponents -- and highly-ranked opponents."

Going into championship weekend, ESPN’s two Playoff projections agree that Oklahoma stands to gain the most from a Georgia loss to favorite LSU (-7) on Saturday in Atlanta (4 p.m./CBS).

Ahead of Tuesday’s rankings. FiveThirtyEight gave Clemson the best chance to make the Playoff (93 percent) then Ohio State (86), LSU (63), Oklahoma (57), Georgia (46), Utah (27) and Baylor (18) among those with double-digit chances. The site’s Playoff Predictor is leaning toward Ohio State (98) and LSU (92) being in no matter the results on Saturday, with Clemson around that tier by the numbers (94) then Georgia (53), Oklahoma (37), Utah (9) and Baylor (8). FiveThirtyEight gives LSU a 16 percent shot at sticking in the top-four with a loss -- independent of other results.

"I think these top-three teams are in regardless of what happens -- absent of one getting boat-raced by 50, which is not going to happen," ESPN's Rece Davis said on the rankings show Tuesday.

ESPN’s FPI projected winners this weekend are Clemson (94.9 percent over Virginia), Ohio State (81.6 over Wisconsin), Oklahoma (69.4 over Baylor), LSU (55.7 over Georgia) and Utah (51.1 over Oregon). If those projections hold, CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm pairs Ohio State and Oklahoma in the CFP semifinal Peach Bowl (Atlanta) and Clemson and LSU in the CFP semifinal Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Arizona).

Clemson is No. 2 in ESPN’s Football Power Index this week with the third-best mark in their ‘game control’ and a fourth-best rank in their strength of record metric. Ohio State still paces the FPI with a No. 1 rank in game control and No. 2 in strength of record. LSU is similar on the metrics front (No. 1 SOR; No. 2 GC) in a group of teams left that can possibly play their way in with Georgia (No. 3 SOR/No. 5 GC), Oklahoma (No. 7 SOR/No. 7 GC) Baylor (No. 8 SOR/No. 11 GC) and Utah (No. 12 SOR/No. 9 GC). In the top-three, LSU has the best strength of schedule (25; per ESPN) then Ohio State (30) and Clemson (65).

From the ACC, Coastal champ Virginia debuted at No. 23 in this week's Playoff rankings.

The final Playoff rankings and bowl pairings will be announced at noon on Sunday (ESPN).

The ACC’s Tigers have spent the second-most weeks in the CFP top-5 rankings all-time (29) and can catch up more this season with the leader there since 2014, Alabama (34). Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State are the only three teams to be in each of the 36 CFP Top 25 rankings.

This year’s CFP semifinals will be played on Dec. 28 with times TBA. The National Championship will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. on Jan. 13.

This year’s CFP committee is Oregon AD Rob Mullens (Committee chair), Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione, former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, former sportswriter Paola Boivin, former coach Ken Hatfield, Robert Morris president Chris Howard, Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir, former USC All-American DB Ronnie Lott, Georgia Tech AD Todd Stansbury, former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, Iowa AD Gary Barta and Florida AD Scott Stricklin.

Clemson is seeking to be only the second team to start outside the top-4 in the first CFP ranking (No. 5) and go on to win the national championship (Ohio State in 2014, No. 16).

The Tigers held at No. 3 in both the Coaches and Associated Press polls this week after starting as the preseason No. 1 in each in August.

CFP Top 25 - 12/3

1. Ohio State

2. LSU

3. Clemson

4. Georgia

5. Utah

6. Oklahoma

7. Baylor

8. Wisconsin

9. Florida

10. Penn St.

11. Auburn

12. Alabama

13. Oregon

14. Michigan

15. Notre Dame

16. Iowa

17. Memphis

18. Minnesota

19. Boise St.

20. Cincinnati

21. Appalachian St.

22. USC

23. Virginia

24. Navy

25. Oklahoma St.

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