Heather Dinich, who covers the College Football Playoff for ESPN, recently published an article on “College Football Playoff questions for five teams after three weeks” of the season.
Her question for Clemson: Is Clemson ready to return to the CFP?
“Not if it continues to let unheralded teams like Louisiana Tech hang around,” Dinich wrote.
Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) opened the season with a 41-10 win over Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, then took care of business in back-to-back home victories over Furman (35-12) and Louisiana Tech (48-20).
However, Dinich wrote that Clemson has “looked vulnerable” through the first three games of the 2022 campaign, citing the Tigers’ poor start offensively against Georgia Tech, a subpar defensive showing against an FCS opponent in Furman and the fact they led Louisiana Tech by just seven points at halftime as reasons why they’ve looked that way.
Dinich says that with the SEC having a pair of playoff contenders in Alabama and Georgia, and the Big Ten possibly having a couple in Ohio State and Michigan, Clemson could miss out on the fourth playoff spot if Bama, UGA and the Big Ten champ are in, and if the Big 12 and Pac-12 have conference champs with better résumés.
“Clemson entered Week 3 with the No. 103 schedule strength, and Notre Dame and South Carolina haven’t done anything to help it,” Dinich wrote. “The Tigers need the selection committee to rank a handful of their opponents in the CFP top 25, and Clemson has to clearly assert itself in those games as the better team. No. 19 Wake Forest was fortunate to beat Liberty 37-36 on Saturday, while No. 13 Miami lost on the road to Texas A&M. NC State helped the ACC with its win against Texas Tech.”
Added Dinich: “While there are several teams capable of winning the ACC, the league is at its best when Clemson is too, and the Tigers have yet to convince their critics they’re ready for a return to the CFP.”
Up next for Clemson is Saturday’s game at Wake Forest (No. 16 Coaches Poll, No. 21 AP Top 25). The game will kick off at noon ET on ABC.
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