These two ESPN employees envision a difficult road for Clemson to the College Football Playoff following the Tigers’ loss to Georgia last Saturday in Charlotte.
ESPN’s FPI now gives Clemson a 49-percent chance to make the CFP, and ESPN host Jason Fitz says the loss to the Bulldogs isn’t what might keep the Tigers out of the playoff — it’s their remaining schedule, in his opinion, that could prevent them from making a seventh straight playoff appearance this year.
“The problem isn’t that they lost last night, it’s that I’m looking at the runway left — they don’t have a lot left,” Fitz said. “Now that North Carolina has turned out to not be as good as people thought. I know it’s early. Florida State loses over the weekend. I know it’s early. But Miami gets thumped. I just don’t see who’s left on the schedule to get them a signature win.”
Fitz added he thinks it’s going to take other playoff contenders “having a bad year for Clemson to make the playoff at this point.”
“I keep looking at that schedule, and we’ve sat in that mock committee process, right,” Fitz said. “When they’re sitting in the mock committee, you’ve got one loss that they’re going to excuse and say first week of the season, close game, came down to one defensive touchdown. So, you can excuse the loss. You can’t credit any of those wins. I think the real estate’s gone.”
ESPN analyst Mike Golic Jr. agreed with Fitz about the apparent lack of a signature win left on Clemson’s schedule.
“They’re not going to have a signature win in the way of like a marquee, out-of-conference matchup or anything like that,” Golic Jr. said. “Boston College will be decent this year, Jeff Hafley in the second year. They get them at home. Florida State, we’ll see if McKenzie Milton stays the starter. I think that offense looks different with him at the helm. That could be a decent win for them. You’ve got Wake Forest. But again, the key with all these is you’re getting all of them at home. That game against UConn, by the way, should be illegal. I’m serious. They should not be allowed to play that game.”
With Alabama and Ohio State looking like good bets to make the playoff at this early point in the season, Golic Jr. believes Clemson’s “enemies are Georgia and Oklahoma right now” for the final two spots.
“You’re looking at them,” he said. “Ohio State likely going to be the far-away favorite in the Big Ten. So you say maybe Oklahoma’s vulnerable, maybe that Georgia offense doesn’t develop and they get blown out in the SEC title game or something against Bama.
“But you have introduced a window for opportunity to go badly for you if you’re Clemson.”
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 7, 2021
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