Clemson Football: How CFP rankings ripped Tigers off

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reacts after Pitt receiver Taysir Mack (11) scores during the second quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Saturday, October 23, 2021.Ncaa Football Clemson At Pitt
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reacts after Pitt receiver Taysir Mack (11) scores during the second quarter at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Saturday, October 23, 2021.Ncaa Football Clemson At Pitt /

An 8-3 record, coming off of a blowout win over a top-10 rival gets you ranked 23rd? Why were the Clemson Tigers treated so poorly by the committee?

“Poorly” might be a bit strong of a word, but Clemson football has been ranked too low nonetheless. Reasons for this declaration include: Where other teams are placed despite donning the same record, the size of their biggest wins, and their quality of losses.

The Tigers now have an overall record of 8-3, which is not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. However, it looks even better once you know who the three losses were at the hands of.

In chronological order, Clemson has only lost to Georgia, North Carolina State, and Pittsburgh. All of those teams are ranked in the CFP top 20 today (with UGA sitting as the top rank), and the Tigers have not lost to any of them by more than 10 points. Not too shabby.

But regardless of how “good” losses can look, nothing changes the fact that they are still losses. So has Clemson at least been placed within the mix of fellow 3-loss teams? No.

In the week 13 installment of the College Football Playoff rankings, the committee locked the Tigers in at 23rd. At the same time, some other 3-loss teams, such as Utah, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin, have been placed noticeably higher (19th, 15th, and 14th, respectively).

The only 3-loss team that has an indisputable reason for being ranked ahead of Clemson is NC State (20th), as the Wolfpack beat them head-to-head earlier this season. But as for the rest of them, comparing their attributes to Clemson’s conjures up a cause for debate.

Right away, all three of the aforementioned higher-ranked teams are going to fall back on both their big wins and quality losses.

For reference, Utah just beat then-No. 3 Oregon by a score 38-7, and two of their three losses have come from BYU and San Diego State–both ranked teams. Meanwhile, A&M beat Alabama (no validation needed for that one), along with losing to ranked divisional rivals Arkansas and Ole Miss. And lastly, Wisconsin has spanked No. 16 Iowa since falling to a pair of top-6 powers, Notre Dame and Michigan.

As previously established, the Tigers also have their fair share of “excusable” losses. The main issue was that they had failed to make an impact in any of their first seven wins–they were not only against greatly-inferior opponents, but they struggled to survive in each and every one of them. That was until Wake Forest came to town.

Last Saturday, Clemson beat the Demon Deacons like a drum. “Death Valley” was absolutely roaring on its way to seeing the Tigers roll their way to a 48-27 domination against a historical adversary.

Now yes, normally beating up on Wake Forest at home would mean next to nothing, especially when a team has the talent and coaching that Clemson has. But this time was different.

The Deacs entered their game last weekend with a 9-1 record, top-5 offense, top-10 ranking, and potential playoff path. Yet that all meant nothing after facing the Tigers. That gave Clemson their much-needed statement win.

So at this point, Clemson has everything that Utah, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin have: An 8-3 record, excusable losses, and at least one quality win. So what’s up with the rankings?

Sure, all three of those names were already in the rankings before Clemson entered them, but how much of a difference should that make? Clemson deserves to be ranked higher if those guys do. Heck, some would even argue that they should somehow be above Wake, but that’s an entirely different subject matter.

This all merely points back to the CFP committee showing inconsistencies in their rankings practically every single week; this isn’t the first time that eyebrows have been raised at the top 25, and it won’t be the last.

The Clemson Tigers will be traveling to face their biggest rivals, the South Carolina Gamecocks, this upcoming weekend, and SC is a bowl team this year. If the Tigers take that one (which they probably will), they should be getting some top-20 love for sure.

Next. Cincinnati, Ok State are clear winners in Week 13 Rankings. dark