By Scott Rhymer
We often make way too many broad statements when it comes to how a total season is going to play out. What I heard after the FSU loss was that the season was now a letdown because Clemson was behind the 8-ball in terms of the ACC Atlantic Division Title.
Clemson is, in essence, two games behind FSU in the Atlantic because the Seminoles won the head to head matchup. I don’t see any way that Clemson can win the Atlantic unless we run the table as I don’t see 3 losses for FSU in conference play. But I still contend the ‘Noles will stumble, and if they stumble twice, Clemson could still win the Atlantic if the Tigers take care of our own business.
But even if FSU does not stumble twice, Clemson is in prime position to be a major factor in the BCS At Large conversation as the season plays out. If you need any proof, I will spell it out below.
Before Clemson plays another road game, the Tigers will almost certainly be in the Top 10 if (and that is an if) the Tigers beat Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
If you are in the top 10 in mid-October, you are still very much in the mix on a national scale. Some will tell you the ACC is not strong enough to warrant an At Large Bid (they forget Virginia Tech got one last year and Tech was a 2 loss team after ACC Championship game).
So how can Clemson be in the Top 10 in 3 weeks when the Tigers travel to Wake Forest on October 25th? It is much easier than you would think. See below.
1. Alabama: The Elephants won’t fall out of the Top 10 by October 25th. In fact, they will still be #1 after trips to Missouri and Tennessee. They need to move to the NFL.
2. Oregon: The Uniforms host Washington and travel to Washington State and, much like Alabama, I don’t see them losing to either team. The Ducks will still be sitting at #2 on October 25th.
3. Florida State: The Jimbos will have their hands full in Raleigh this Saturday before hosting Boston College and then travelling to a resurgent Miami Hurricane team. I have an itch that says they will fall in this 3 game stretch…most likely at Miami. Whether that would drop them out of the Top 10, however, is questionable considering their #3 ranking.
4. LSU: The Mad Hatters have been less than dominant, and their schedule is about to amp up to a level where they will have to prove their worthiness in the Top 5. The Tigers travel to Florida this week, host South Carolina in 2 weeks, and travel to Texas A&M on October 20th. Either they will stumble or they will knock out other teams ahead of Clemson in the polls (Florida and South Carolina).
5. Georgia: The Hot Seaters travel to Columbia this Saturday for an SEC East elimination game and then host Kentucky the following week. If they lost to SCAR, they will drop out of the Top 10. If they beat The Spurrier’s, then they will knock the Gamecocks out of the Top 10. Either way, it works for Clemson.
6. South Carolina: The Spurriers will either be ranked in the top 4 in three weeks or off the face of the planet in 3 weeks. I am not sure I have ever seen a three game stretch as tough as what the Gamecocks are about to tackle. SCAR hosts Georgia this week, then travels to LSU and follows it up with a trip to Florida. If the Gamecocks don’t get better quick, they will be out of the Top 25 all together in three weeks. If they are great, they will knock out teams from the Top 10 and open up spots for Clemson.
7. Kansas State: The Purple Deptulas host Kansas this week and then travel to Iowa State and West Virginia in the following weeks. Assuming the Wildcats can get past Kansas and Iowa State, the battle with WVU will knock one of those two teams out of the Top 10.
8. West Virginia: The Couch Burners will have their hands full in Austin this weekend against the Long Horns with one of the two dropping from the top 10. WVU then travels to Texas Tech before hosting Kansas State. Again, the Mountaineers are either going to lose and fall or they are going to beat others that will fall out of the Top 10. Either way, it’s a win-win for Clemson.
9. Notre Dame: The Rudy Ruettigers have their hands full the next 3 weeks, hosting Miami, Stanford, and Brigham Young. They will drop at least one of those three, which will have them fall below the Tigers in the polls.
10. Florida: The Former Spurriers host LSU this weekend, travel to Vandy, and then host South Carolina. They lose at least once in that stretch, but even if they don’t they are knocking other Top 10 teams off their perch.
11. Texas: The Cattle have a brutal stretch the next three weeks. Texas hosts West Virginia, goes to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma, and host Baylor. Lots of trouble lurking in those games for Mack Brown.
12. Ohio State: The Most Boring Offense Ever hosts Nebraska this weekend before travelling to Indiana and hosting Purdue the following week. If Urban can get by Nebraska, chances are the Buckeye’s will be in the top 10 come October 25th.
13. USC: The Real USC travels to Washington this week, then hosts Colorado, before travelling to Arizona. The Trojans may survive this 3 game stretch if Lane Kiffen does not screw it up.
14. Oregon State: The Angry Beavers host Washington State this weekend before travelling to Brigham Young and then hosting Utah. Since I can’t even name one player on OSU’s team, my best guess is that they lose at least one game between now and then.
All of this is to say that many things will transpire over the next three weeks that will greatly impact the Top 10 in college football. The only teams I see that are a safe bet to remain in the Top 10 over the next three weeks are Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State. Everyone else will either fall or knock of someone else that will, in turn, fall.
Beating Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech is the hard part. But if we do, we’ll be in the Top 10 when we leave the friendly confines of Death Valley. Mark that down in ink.
And if that happens, Clemson will be clearly in the BCS mix when we travel to Groves Stadium.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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