The College Football Playoff selection committee ranked only three ACC teams -- one fewer than the American has -- but Clemson remains No. 1 and has a clear path to the playoff’s top seed.
Clemson already impressed the committee with its résumé last week, but the group certainly took notice of the Tigers' 23-13 win over No. 16 Florida State, which did not drop despite the loss Saturday at Death Valley.
The win against the Seminoles gives the Tigers two victories against top-25 teams. Clemson also beat No. 4 Notre Dame, giving the Tigers the best win of the season to this point. In all, the Tigers have six wins against teams with winning records.
With remaining games against Syracuse, Wake Forest and South Carolina, which own a combined record of 9-18, the Tigers should cruise into the playoff. However, a loss in any of those games or the ACC championship game would almost certainly keep the Tigers from the playoff, unless madness ensued across the country.
Only three ACC teams had legitimate arguments to be ranked by the committee, and all three found themselves in the top 25. The ACC doesn't have any justifiable gripes about the number of teams ranked, but North Carolina still lacks the respect it deserves. Four two-loss teams are ahead of the Heels, and only one has a top-25 win.
The Tar Heels are 8-1, on an eight-game winning streak and undefeated in the ACC. The Heels are 16th in strength of record, and seven of their eight wins have been in convincing fashion. They are No. 6 in offensive efficiency and third among Power 5 teams defensively in scoring percentage inside the 40-yard line.
A nonconference schedule including two FCS teams and two struggling Power 5 teams (and they lost to South Carolina) hasn't helped a Coastal Division schedule that lacks another premier team. However, the Heels will continue to rise if they finish the regular season 11-1, and then waiting in the ACC title game is Clemson. The playoff seems like a long shot, but the Heels could play in a coveted New Year's Six game.
Florida State still has a chance at a major bowl too because it finally has the quality loss Seminoles fans joked the team was lacking last season as it fell in the rankings. Last year, they kept sliding down the top four of the rankings despite going undefeated during the regular season, but this week, the Seminoles held steady despite a loss.
Ahead of Florida State and North Carolina are several teams that play head to head, so if both win out, they should be in position to be considered for a New Year's Six bowl. Ultimately, that's what the ACC wants: two teams in the six favored bowls.