The Clemson Tigers have been great so far this season, but one notable college football pundit, Paul Finebaum, actually can’t see Dabo Swinney and his team making the College Football Playoffs in 2017-18.
This despite the fact that Clemson is the defending National Champion, having beaten Alabama in last season’s CFP title game, 35-31. This despite the fact that Clemson has largely responded to its critics so far this season. The Tigers are currently undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation behind only the Crimson Tide. They’ve done it without Deshaun Watson, who’s now in the NFL, and have already beaten teams like then-No. 13 Auburn, then-No. 14 Louisville and then-No. 12 Virginia Tech.
Still, Finebaum just can’t see Swinney and the Tigers making it to the final four again this season. Here’s what he recently had to say when speaking with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take.
“I think Alabama will be there, I’m still not sure Clemson will be because at some point you run into someone. It happened last year to Clemson, they lost at home to Pittsburgh. They should have lost to N.C. State — the N.C. State kicker missed a chip shot — and they have to go to N.C. State. I’m not trying to make that into some all-world game, but at some point, you do lose. We see it every weekend. We saw it last week with Oklahoma. We saw it with Michigan. It will happen. I don’t think it will happen to Alabama but I do think it could happen to Clemson.”
To Finebaum’s point, N.C. State is expected to give the Tigers a test this season. The Wolfpack are currently 5-1 and ranked No. 20 in the nation. They take on Clemson at home, and after having just beat Louisville and with a potential second upset on the horizon against No. 16 Notre Dame, Dave Doeren’s squad could be very dangerous for Clemson.
With that said, if Clemson can get past N.C. State — and there’s a great chance the Tigers can do just that as the No. 2 team in the nation — they won’t face another ranked team all season. Clemson will take on Florida State in mid-November and South Carolina at the end of the season in a big rivalry game, but if the Tigers cross the Wolfpack hurdle, there’s a very good chance they end the season undefeated.
And sure, as Finebaum said, at some point you have to lose. That’s just a reality of college football.
The same thing can be said for Alabama, or any other team in the nation, though, so it’s a moot point.