After spending much of the early part of the season infatuated with Trevor Lawrence’s early interceptions and suggesting Clemson was not worthy of being the nation’s top-ranked team, much of the national media has backpedaled from their early stance.
Despite lopsided wins over Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Syracuse and Charlotte to start the season, the national narrative from the Associated Press voters to ESPN’s talking heads was that the Tigers did not look like a national championship caliber team. Most of this talk came from two elements. Clemson struggled to beat an average North Carolina team on the road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Sept. 28, and Lawrence’s early season mistakes.
The narrative caused the Tigers to become the first preseason No. 1 to slide in the AP poll three spots despite not losing a game. In fact, Clemson is the first preseason No. 1-ranked team in the 86-year history of the poll to not own the top spot in the rankings despite winning all 11 of its games to this point in the season.
The Tigers (11-0) fell to as far as No. 4 in the AP poll this season despite blowing out all but one of their opponents.
Clemson, the defending national champions, debuted at No. 5 in the College Football Playoff Committee’s rankings despite the fact its has beat its 11 opponents by an average margin of 35.2 points per game.
Thanks to Alabama’s loss to LSU and Penn State dropping two of its last three games, the Tigers have moved up to No. 3 in the rankings and are in a very good position to make the CFP for a fifth straight year.
But while the national media continued to doubt Clemson, the Tigers just worked on getting better and in the process steamrolled its opposition. In the last six weeks, Clemson has gone on a tear of epic proportion.
The Tigers have scored 45 or more points in each of the last six games, no Clemson team has done that before, nor has an ACC team. The Tigers have also won each of their last four games by 45 or more points, something no Clemson team has done in its history or any ACC team. It marked the first time since 1972 that anyone in all of college football has done it.
Clemson has scored 52 or more points in each of the last four weeks, something no team in the history of the ACC has ever done. It has outscored its last six opponents—Florida State, Louisville, Boston College, Wofford, NC State and Wake Forest—315-58, with an average margin of victory of 43 points per game.
“Clemson, we quietly haven’t spoken about them,” ESPN college football analyst Jonathan Vilma said Sunday on SportsCenter. “But as long as Trevor Lawrence plays well and the defense has been spectacular they could easily be one of the best teams or the top team.”
With teams like Penn State suffering two losses in the last three games, Alabama now without Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State and LSU showing their warts, the national media has finally started to see Clemson past the North Carolina game and realized the Tigers might just be the most complete team in the country.
“The committee right now has LSU No. 1 and they have got Ohio State No. 2, but I think that race for No. 1, here is the next couple of weeks is really important. I think guys for three main reasons,” ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said on ESPN’s College Football Final. “Number one, obviously the team that finishes No. 1 guarantees themselves the best possible home field advantage in the semi-final. But number two, the team that finishes No. 1 in all likelihood is going to avoid Clemson in the semi-final. And Clemson is a team right now that has won six straight by 30 or more points. I don’t think anybody wants to play the defending national champions right now.”
Actually, Clemson has won the last six games by 31 or more points and has won 26 straight games in a row, the nation’s longest winning streak.
In fact, the Tiger own the nation’s longest winning streak, home winning streak and road winning streak.
Clemson is the only team in the country to rank in the top 5 in scoring offense, total offense, scoring defense and total defense after 11 games.
“This may have been Ohio State’s best chance to jump LSU. The question is whether or not with three fumbles and sometimes a close game do they do that,” ESPN’s CFP reporter Heather Dinich said on SportsCenter Sunday. “LSU still has the résumé. Ohio State has the defense but if Ohio State gets stuck in that No. 2 spot, they are starting off probably against No. 3 Clemson.
“The difference between playing Clemson and whoever gets that No. 4 spot this year could be significant.”
Clemson will look to keep things rolling this week when it plays at rival South Carolina on Saturday to close the regular season.
We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Fanatics. This is great news for Tiger fans as they have the officially licensed Clemson gear.
The Clemson Insider will get a portion of all sales so get ready for another championship season by ordering your Clemson gear today and help support TCI.