Sports

Clemson Football: Back On Top

Tigers enter championship weekend ranked No. 1 …

It doesn’t matter where you start it’s how you finish … and with one game left on its schedule, Clemson University’s football team is finishing strong.

The Tigers (11-1, 7-1 ACC) play seventh-ranked Miami for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship on Saturday night, with the winner of that game basically guaranteed a berth in the 2017 College Football Playoff.

Kickoff from Bank of America stadium is set for 8:00 p.m. EST with ABC providing national television coverage.

Clemson won the playoff last year, beating Alabama for its first national championship since 1981.  The previous year the Tigers fell to the Tide in the championship game.

Clemson enters its matchup against the Hurricanes (10-1, 7-1 ACC) ranked No. 1 nationally after pummeling arch-rival South Carolina on its home turf last weekend.  This week’s rating marks the Tigers’ seventeenth consecutive appearance in a CFP poll – a new record.  It’s also the seventh time the CFP has ranked Clemson No. 1 overall.

Oddsmakers have installed head coach Dabo Swinney‘s team as a 9.5 point favorite over Miami – which we think is a bit stingy given the way the Tigers have been playing.

Auburn (10-2, 7-1 SEC) – which fell to Clemson earlier this season – is ranked No. 2 according to the CFP, followed by Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big XII) and Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0 Big 10).

If those top four teams win their conference championships, then the playoff field is set.

If not, all hell will break lose as at least six other teams – Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Penn StateSouthern Cal and TCU – could conceivably lay claim to a playoff spot.

Seriously?  Can you imagine the pandemonium that would ensue if Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin all lost their conference championships?

Obviously that would mean Georgia and Miami were “in,” but beyond that … what a mess.

Also what about poor Central Florida?  The Golden Knights are undefeated this season but found themselves ranked No. 14 in the penultimate CFP standings – trailing six teams with two losses and one team with three defeats.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!!!” UCF athletics director Danny White tweeted after the rankings were released.

Central Florida plays Memphis for its conference championship this weekend, but even a victory there won’t be enough to advance the Knights to the playoffs.  The best they can hope for is a berth in one of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games.

Stay tuned … the CFP is clearly headed toward its most controversial year since replacing the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) prior to the 2014 season.  And with good reason.

We’ve always thought four teams was too few for a real playoff – arguing in favor of an eight-team field.  Oh well, perhaps in future years the current CFP will be expanded to incorporate all teams with a legitimate title claim.

In the meantime, this news site’s panelists have been picking college football games all year and we look forward to weighing in on the upcoming conference championships.

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