Clemson? No. 1? Really?
Yes. Really. And — not that Bill Hancock or Dan Radakovich or Condoleezza Rice asked my opinion — I concur.
I’ve seen three of the top five teams, as rated by the College Football Playoff committee, in person. (And, counting Florida, four of the top 10.) Clemson was the most impressive — good offense, good defense, big-time quarterback. Put that team on a neutral field in January, and I believe it would beat Alabama or LSU or Michigan State or Baylor or TCU. (It has already beaten Notre Dame.) I’m not sure the Tigers would trump Ohio State, but there’s no question that they’ve been more impressive than the Buckeyes to date.
(Then again, you know where Ohio State was in the initial set of rankings last year? Sixteenth. Auburn, which would finish 8-5, was third.)
Random observations: The committee values strength of schedule over being undefeated; the presumption of SEC eminence still holds, what with No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Alabama, which has a home loss, in the first four; the Big 12’s odd scheduling — No. 6 Baylor, No. 8 TCU, No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Oklahoma have yet to play each other or anybody else of real consequence — has hurt that curious conference; No. 5 Notre Dame is great shape, and No. 18 Ole Miss was penalized heavily for losing to No. 13 Memphis.
That latter bit could become a big deal if the Rebels don’t lose again. (They play Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State, with the first two games in Oxford.) Could the winner of the rough-and-tough SEC West and the champion of the only conference that matters be omitted from the playoff field?