Clemson ranked No. 3 in ESPN preseason ranking
|Thursday, February 13, 2020 10:22 AM- -|
There's a familiar name at the top of ESPN's SP+ preseason college football rankings. Just not the team likely to take the preseason top spot in the traditional polls.
The latter would be Clemson, coming off of a fourth national title game appearance in five seasons, which is armed with some of the top offensive talent nationally and the defensive tactician who is Brent Venables. The SP+ favorite, however, is Alabama, followed by Ohio State and then the ACC's Tigers. The Crimson Tide are projected to have the nation's top offense and also a top-10 defense (8).
Ohio State is expected to have a top-5 unit in both phases (No. 3 offense/No. 5 defense), while Clemson is projected a No. 4 offense and No. 13 defense. Venables' group has finished no lower than sixth in the SP+ defensive rankings since 2016.
Georgia and Penn State round out the top-5, with Notre Dame being Clemson's top regular-season opponent (12) and North Carolina (17), Miami (23) and Florida State (26) cracking the top-30. South Carolina is 35th after a No. 47 finish in 2019.
Clemson was No. 2 preseason in the SP+ last year to Alabama, while LSU was two spots ahead of its AP preseason ranking of No. 6.
Advanced metrics weigh almost solely the efficiency of a team in all three phases by game, and therefore can provide some head-scratching final rankings because wins and losses aren't the factor they are in traditional rankings
The Tigers were No. 4 last season. Ohio State topped the SP+, Football Outsiders' FEI and ESPN Football Power Index last year.