Never before in the College Football Playoff era has being the No. 1 overall seed been so important.
Whoever the No. 1 ranked team is in the CFP Committee’s final rankings will avoid, most likely, having to play Clemson, Alabama or Ohio State in the semifinals. Currently, Clemson is the top-ranked team in the Associated Press and Amway Coaches Polls, followed by Alabama and Ohio State.
“I think there is separation. I think Clemson has separated themselves as the number one team. I think Alabama has separated itself at number two and I think Ohio State separated themselves at number three. There is a gap with those three (and everyone else) and I also think there is a gap between these those three as well,” ESPN analyst David Pollack said on the College Football Playoff Top 25 Show Tuesday night.
The Tigers (6-0, 5-0 ACC) have come out of the gate fast, winning each of their first six games by 18 or more points. It marked the first time in school history Clemson has started a season with six consecutive victories by 18 points or more. It has also scored at least 41 points in each of the last five games, including a 25-point victory over No. 12 Miami.
Alabama (5-0) is also on fire, as the Crimson Tide has double-digit wins over No. 5 Georgia and No. 8 Texas A&M already.
Ohio State, who opened the season last Saturday with an easy win over Nebraska, travels to No. 18 Penn State on Saturday.
“It is really just about the easiest path to the national championship game. The path of least resistance,” ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer said. “If it is going to be Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State in some order, if you are that one seed, you get to avoid the other two in the semifinal.
“You look at last year, LSU getting to play Oklahoma, that was a much easier game for the one seed LSU than what we saw in the other semifinal game that was epic between Ohio State and Clemson. To me that is what it comes down to.”
Only once in the six years of the CFP has the No. 1 seed won the national championship. That came last year when No. 1 LSU knocked off Oklahoma and Clemson to win the national championship.
But with the COVID-19 restrictions and how tough it is to travel compared to other years, plus getting the opportunity to avoid two of the three top teams in the country in the semifinals, makes being No. 1 more important than ever before.
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit asked if the CFP Committee still takes into consideration giving the No. 1 seed a somewhat travel advantage in terms of bowl travel when playing the No. 4 seed. Host Rece Davis said they do.
“If that still applies then this number one seed is huge,” Herbstreit said. “Is it going to be Clemson? Is it going to be Alabama? Is it going to be Ohio State? You are talking about playing in New Orleans where it is pretty simple travel, as opposed to going all the way out to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl if you are two or three more than likely.
“So, I think it is a big deal. You know how coaches are big on logistics in trying to get back if you win that game and trying to get ready for the next one. I think fighting to make sure you are that number one team is pretty significant this year.”
Clemson will try to continue to hold on to its grip as the top-ranked team when host Boston College on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised by ABC.
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