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The Tigers perhaps figured to have some trouble establishing their offensive line, but the unit has come together and outperformed expectations.
Brent Venables, hired by Clemson in 2012, has turned around a Tigers defense that ranked 71st the season before he arrived.
Here's where the CFP stands
Clemson and Alabama are 1 and 2, again. Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Iowa have moved up to 3 and 4, respectively, as Michigan State and Notre Dame are the first two teams out.
Thanksgiving week: time for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. And college football, too! For many teams, it'll be their last game of the year.
Two more wins would likely secure a playoff bid for Clemson, and No. 14 North Carolina is rolling but has a lot of ground to make up in the rankings.
A North Carolina team that beats Clemson and wins out to take the ACC would have a strong case for the College Football Playoff.
It still looks as if it is Clemson or bust for the ACC. There's too much CFP ground for UNC to make up. Even a win over the Tigers will not be enough.
Is Clemson the toughest competitor?
The Tigers' undefeated record says yes, but a closer look at their resume might suggest otherwise. FPI ranks them sixth, and their win-loss record is actually weaker than Alabama's.
CFP rankings: 1-6
- 1. Clemson
- 2. Alabama
- 3. Oklahoma
- 4. Iowa
- 5. Michigan State
- 6. Notre Dame
Projected CFB playoff lines
If the College Football Playoff were held today, here are the projected lines from the Las Vegas Westgate Super Book:
- Clemson -9 vs. Iowa
- Alabama -6 vs. Oklahoma
CFP rankings: Who's in?
There's a shakeup at the top of the latest playoff rankings, as Iowa and Oklahoma join the playoff picture alongside Clemson and Alabama. But with another weekend of football ahead, will either No. 5 Michigan State or No. 6 Notre Dame muscle its way in?
Andrea Adelson ESPN Staff Writer
It should come as no surprise that Clemson remains No. 1 in the latest College Football Playoff ranking, considering the Tigers are one of two undefeated teams left and have the best win (over Notre Dame). If they beat South Carolina on Saturday and then No. 14 North Carolina in the ACC championship game, they would be a playoff lock.
Oklahoma and Iowa came in at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, in the latest College Football Playoff rankings behind stalwarts Clemson and Alabama. Notre Dame dropped to No. 6 despite a win.
Alabama's Derrick Henry and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey are up for both the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award, as finalists for the College Football Awards were announced.
Adam Rittenberg ESPN Staff Writer
Finalists for the Maxwell Award (college football player of the year): Alabama running back Derrick Henry, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Adam Rittenberg ESPN Staff Writer
Finalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award: TCU's Trevone Boykin, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Clemson's Deshaun Watson.
After years of losing to South Carolina, Clemson enters Saturday's matchup a prohibitive favorite and looking to impress the CFP committee.
Jared Shanker ESPN Staff Writer
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney grew annoyed Tuesday when asked if the Tigers could be overlooking South Carolina. Swinney said "every week it's the same rhetoric" that the Tigers could drop a game because they're looking ahead, whether to Notre Dame or Florida State or UNC. Swinney is tired about being asked about Clemson losing to a game it has no business losing.
Clemson @ South Carolina Gamecocks
Williams-Brice Stadium - Sat 11/28