Path To The 2018 College Football Playoff: Clemson Tigers
What is Clemson’s path to the 2018 College Football Playoff? What are the different ways the Tigers can get in?
Path To The Playoff: Clemson
What’s The Easiest Path?
The defending national champs aren’t going to catch a break just because of what they did over the last two playoffs. However, they will get a whole lot of credit for a great run of September wins that will look better and better as the season winds down.
Of course, for Clemson it might be just as easy as winning out.
With wins over Auburn, and at Louisville, and Boston College – which looks great now – and at Virginia Tech, and over Georgia Tech, it’s a resume that’s better than anyone but Notre Dame can boast.
With that, if the Tigers get by NC State on the road, and Florida State – even if it’s more about the brand name than the team – and win at South Carolina, and then take down Miami or in a rematch with Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship, then that should be enough.
The loss to Syracuse hurts, but it’s not a killer. The Tigers lost to Pitt last year and rebounded with a national title. Win out, and Clemson would likely be just behind an unbeaten SEC champion in the pecking order.
At the very least, with this resume, it would be given more credit than an 11-1 Notre Dame, a 12-1 Big Ten champion Ohio State, and a 12-1 Big 12 champion.
But, What Happens If …
The SEC champion and Wisconsin are both 13-0, and if that SEC champ is Georgia in a close win over 12-0 Alabama, and if Notre Dame finishes 11-1?
That’s a whole lot of ifs, but it’s not a totally insane scenario.
If all of that happens, Georgia would be a lock, Wisconsin would be close, and Notre Dame, Alabama and Clemson would all be in a battle for the final two spots.
The best guess is that Clemson would be a guarantee out of those three as a 12-1 ACC champion with two strong wins over SEC teams. At that point, the Tigers wouldn’t care who wins the Bama-Irish argument.
The Realistic Worst Case Scenario
The Tigers lose once more.
It’s over if they lose the ACC Championship, but there still might be a distant hope if they lose once more and take the ACC title.
It’ll be almost impossible to get to the conference championship if the Tigers lose to NC State – the Wolfpack would have to totally collapse to not get to the ACC Championship – but if the loss is to Florida State, it’ll still be possible to win the Atlantic.
Beat Miami or Virginia Tech, go 11-2, and then hope for a multi-loss Pac-12 champion, a multi-loss Big 12 champion, and for Notre Dame to lose again.
It would then come down to the two SEC championship teams, the Big Ten champion, and then, possibly, an 11-1 Penn State.
Basically, Clemson, just don’t lose again.
Okay, What’s Going To Happen?
Clemson isn’t going to lose again, at least until it gets to the College Football Playoff.
It’ll get by NC State on the road, blow past Florida State, beat Citadel and survive at South Carolina.
It’ll beat Miami in the ACC Championship and end up fourth in the final rankings – the call being that Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State form the top three in some way – and be off to the Sugar Bowl to face the Crimson Tide for CFP Round Three.