Paul Finebaum would not be shocked if the Clemson football team misses the playoff.
ESPN’s Paul Finebaum has a feeling the Clemson could miss out on the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2014 this season.
Finebaum appeared on the Wednesday morning edition of Get Up! where he was asked to pick a team most likely to miss the playoff after making it a year ago out of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
While Notre Dame is easily the first program to cross off, that is not who Finebaum picked. Here is what he told his ESPN colleague Mike Greenberg on why he is fading Clemson.
“I would take Clemson out for this reason, Greeny. They meet the team that I think can get in in the first game of the season,” said Finebaum. “You have Georgia and Clemson in Charlotte, and if Georgia wins this game, and right now I think they’re going to, they vault to number one in the country perhaps.”
“And yes, they still have to deal with Alabama later in the year in the SEC Championship game, but that would probably be about it. I think they’ll get by Florida and everybody else on their schedule. So, we could see a changing of the guard by the end of the first weekend of the regular season.”
While Georgia will not be punished with a loss to Clemson, the same cannot be said for the Tigers.
Clemson football: Paul Finebaum picks Tigers as most likely playoff team from last year to miss this year
Okay, if we were to remove Notre Dame from the equation and had to pick between Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State for which team is not making the four-team field, it would have to be Clemson. Alabama faces a brutal schedule, but no program reloads better than Nick Saban’s team. Plus, no Saban disciple has ever beaten his mentor before. The Tide can totally repeat.
While Ohio State may not be as talented as Alabama or Clemson just yet, the Buckeyes play the softest schedule of the three. Their toughest game will be a non-conference affair at home vs. Pac-12 contender Oregon. If Ohio State gets to Indianapolis undefeated, the Buckeyes will go 13-0 to earn a top-two seed in the playoff picture. They are the likeliest team to go undefeated.
So looking at Clemson’s 2021 schedule, the Tigers’ season opener in Charlotte is by far and away their toughest regular-season game. Clemson does not draw Miami, North Carolina or Notre Dame this season. While any of those games could have theoretically been losses, they would be impressive wins in the Selection Committee’s eyes. Thus, Clemson has to be perfect in the ACC.
As for Georgia, Dawgs will not be punished for a loss in Charlotte to Clemson. As long as they beat Florida in Jacksonville and whoever comes out of the SEC West in Atlanta, the Dawgs will make the playoff as a one-loss SEC Champion. If they do beat Clemson, then they have a fantastic shot of getting to Atlanta undefeated. A favorable schedule is why Georgia can win a national title.
The other thing to consider regarding Clemson’s playoff chances are the Tigers will have a new starting quarterback. While D.J. Uiagalelei was a five-star coming out of high school, he has big shoes to fill succeeding Trevor Lawrence.
Ultimately, Clemson has several things working against it that can keep the Tigers out of the playoff. From starting a new quarterback, to facing an elite team in the opener, to not facing anybody of significance in the ACC, Clemson may not have the resume to entice the Selection Committee. Their best shot of getting in is going 13-0, which is certainly doable.
While this could totally blow up in Finebaum’s face, there is a chance he might be right.
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