Clemson ranked No. 3 in latest Playoff rankings

by - Staff Writer -
Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers close their regular-season at Virginia Tech Saturday. (ACC photo)
Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers close their regular-season at Virginia Tech Saturday. (ACC photo)

Clemson impressed in its return to action over the weekend against Pittsburgh and held strong in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

Dabo Swinney’s Tigers (8-1) remained third, behind undefeated No. 1-ranked Alabama (8-0) and No. 2-ranked Notre Dame (9-0) and ahead of No. 4 Ohio State (4-0), which couldn’t play last weekend due to COVID-19 protocol.

Playoff committee chair and Iowa AD Gary Barta addressed Ohio State's issue in lack of games and why they stayed at No. 4.

"(There was) a lot of discussion about the number of games a team plays," Barta said on ESPN. "And it's not anyone's fault. But trying to evaluate a team with four games in versus a team that's 7-8-or-9 games in is definitely a problem and it's created by the pandemic. The more games a team brings to the committee -- the more games we can evaluate...

"It was talked about a lot and specifically talked about in the room whether or not Ohio State goes to (No.) 4 or Texas A&M flips and goes to (No.) 4 and Ohio State to (No.) 5. There was a lot of discussion about that. At the end of the day, the offensive firepower of Ohio State and all the weapons they have, the win over Indiana and then we did have an additional game to evaluate in Texas A&M (in a 20-7 win over LSU)...But at the end of the day, the committee decided Ohio State was still a better team than Texas A&M and deserved to be (No.) 4. But definitely a lot of discussion about amount of games played."

Notre Dame has already clinched a spot in the Dec. 19 ACC Championship Game and Clemson can do the same with either a win Saturday at Virginia Tech in its regular-season finale or a loss from Miami (7-1) either of the next two weeks.

In other ACC rankings, Miami remained No. 10 this week, while UNC actually moved up to No. 17 after hanging with Notre Dame last week.

The traditional polls were split this week with the Associated Press standing pat with a quartet of Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Clemson as the top-4 with Texas A&M (6-1) fifth, Florida (7-1) sixth and Cincinnati (8-0) seventh. The Coaches Poll mirrored last week’s CFP top-4 with Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State, with Florida fifth, Texas A&M sixth and Cincinnati No. 7.

Among metrics trying to weigh this uneven season, Alabama leads the ESPN SP+ ($) (31.7), followed by Clemson (29), Ohio State (27.5) and Notre Dame (23.7). ESPN’s Football Power Index varies with Alabama (34.2) and Ohio State (27.3) on top, Clemson on Ohio State’s heels (27.2), 2-1 Wisconsin next (25.8) and then Oklahoma (21.7) before Notre Dame (21.6). The FEI ratings rank the same trio of Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson 1-2-3 and have BYU and Wisconsin closing out the top-5.

ESPN rates Clemson with a No. 4 game control ranking and No. 10 strength of record. For comparison, Alabama has the No. 1 spot in both game control and strength of record and Notre Dame is No. 8 and No. 2 and Ohio State is No. 2 and No. 6 there respectively.

This year’s CFP committee is chairman and Iowa AD Gary Barta, Arizona State professor Paola Boivin, Wyoming AD Tom Burman, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione, former head coach Ken Hatfield, Colorado AD Rick George, former USC player Ronnie Lott, Arkansas State AD Terry Mohajir, former Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno, former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, Georgia Tech AD Todd Stansbury, Florida AD Scott Stricklin, former Penn State player John Urschel.

Playoff rankings - 12/1

1. Alabama

2. Notre Dame

3. Clemson

4. Ohio State

5. Texas A&M

6. Florida

7. Cincinnati

8. Georgia

9. Iowa State

10. Miami

11. Oklahoma

12. Indiana

13. BYU

14. Northwestern

15. Oklahoma State

16. Wisconsin

17. North Carolina

18. Coastal Carolina

19. Iowa

20. USC

21. Marshall

22. Washington

23. Oregon

24. Tulsa

25. Louisiana

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