Since the second week of the College Football Playoff Committee Rankings, the committee has positioned itself as the No. 3 team, behind Ohio State and LSU, who have both shared the No. 1 spot.
On Tuesday, the Buckeyes remained No. 1 in the rankings, while LSU stayed put at No. 2. It has been assumed that Ohio State and the Bayou Bengals are the only two teams being discussed for the top spot in the rankings. But as committee chairman Rob Mullens revealed Tuesday night, that is not the case.
Mullens said Clemson is also in the discussions when the committee considers who is the top-ranked team.
“Clemson has been very impressive,” he said during his weekly conference call with the media on Tuesday. “Seven straight wins by at least 30 points, strong offense, strong defense, very balanced.”
Is there a way the Tigers (12-0, 8-0 ACC) can grab the No. 1 spot in Sunday’s final ranking?
“We don’t project ahead, but we will watch the games and we will go back in that room and discuss all options,” Mullens said.
Clemson of course plays No. 23 Virginia on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game, while LSU plays No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game and Ohio State faces No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
“We are looking at Ohio State, LSU and Clemson in that first grouping. We do that first grouping in groupings of three. So, we are still discussing them in great detail,” Mullens said.
When considering who will be the No. 1 team, Mullens said he and the rest of the committee look at everything. How a team is performing and who they are playing is considered when they break down who should be in the top spot.
“We look at the whole resume, but of course we are watching the games down the stretch, and it does matter who and how,” he said.
Mullens said Ohio State, LSU and Clemson are three outstanding teams, and the difference between them are wins over ranked opponents at this time. However, it does not mean that Ohio State and LSU are the only two getting consideration for the top spot.
“There is plenty of conversation about Clemson. It is just their schedule is different,” he said on ESPN’s College Football Playoff Rankings Show. “So, when you start to rack them up and you look at schedule strength, you see those two teams at one and two that have those wins against ranked opponents and highly ranked opponents.”
Mullens told ESPN that Clemson is right in the middle of their discussions when talking about who is No. 1.
“Well, we spent considerable time talking about those top 3 and Clemson is a great team, have been very dominant,” he said. “Their last seven games are extremely impressive. The difference between 1, 2 and 3 is just the wins against ranked opponents and Ohio State with their fourth win against a ranked opponent this weekend, LSU with their impressive resume. Those are the separators at 1, 2 and 3.”
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