To the surprise of some, but not all, Clemson was ranked No. 3 in the first College Football Playoff Poll, which was released Tuesday night on ESPN.
The surprise comes because the Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC) are ranked ahead of undefeated Ohio State. While Clemson has one loss, it is clear its one loss to second-ranked Notre Dame and the eye-test was taken into heavy consideration.
With the intriguing ranking placements, some of the college football analysts on ESPN offered their opinions, starting with Kirk Herbstreit.
“Exactly what I had,” he said. “This week I had Bama, Notre Dame and moved Clemson to three and Ohio State to four,” said Herbstreit. “You can say they only played four games, but we had no problem moving them to two after they played one or two games so it has everything to do with the eye test and Ryan Day will be the first to tell you they haven’t played up to their bar and where they expect to be especially in the secondary.
“Pass defense and protecting Justin Fields and … they have some things to sure up. As you said, it’ll play itself out with the teams that are ahead of them that still have to play. There’s a very good chance if they win out they’ll move up to top two or three, but for now, I think the committee got it right. I think Clemson should be at three.”
Another analyst who agreed with Herbstreit’s take was David Pollack.
“Kirk it is great to see, right now, the first rankings that they are ready to say you got one loss Clemson in your column and I still think you are a better team than Ohio State,” Pollack said. “I think that is a great message for us to receive. I love seeing that because in the end I want them to pick who they think the best teams are.”
With two of the analysts showing their agreement with the committee’s decision, Jesse Palmer chimed in on what he believed the committee saw in their meetings. Palmer too seemed unsurprised as he made the case for Clemson over Ohio State just a couple of days ago.
“I think the committee gives Clemson a ton of credit for going up to Notre Dame without Trevor Lawrence and without all of those playmakers on defense and taking it to double overtime,” he said. “It was a good loss and I think they did give them credit. I think the committee right now looks at Clemson because they have played way more games, but I think they look at them as a team and say, ‘If healthy, this team is a more complete team than Ohio State,’ which is why I think they moved them ahead of the Buckeyes.”
The only one of the group who didn’t seem to agree with the decision was Joey Galloway. While he didn’t feel it was an outlandish decision, he was clearly in disagreement over the committee’s decision.
“I would say I am surprised,” said Galloway. “I am not alarmed, but I am surprised. We talk about the Clemson game against Notre Dame and they had some injuries, but the week before against Boston College, when they also did not look good in that game, they found a way to win it in the second half and played much better, but that first half, they did not look good.”
However, Clemson played the BC game without Trevor Lawrence, as well, and without starting defensive tackle Tyler Davis and starting linebacker James Skalski.
“But when you look at it the top four teams in the country are sitting at one, two, three, and four and so it really does matter what that order is right now today,” Galloway said. “But I am surprised about the flop and moving Ohio State down because they did win the game (over Indiana) and, although not pretty, they did find a way to win.
“And so, when you look at the resume, Miami is on the resume for Clemson and they do believe from these rankings that Miami is a better team than Indiana. So, like I said, I am surprised but not alarmed by this. This is just the beginning and there is going to be a lot more football played and a lot more movement coming.”