College Football Playoff Contenders – State of the ACC Week 12

Written by Brett Korpi
(photo Credit: SaJorden Miller / The SkyBoat)
After a wild weekend that saw five teams in the top 10 all lose. The College Football Playoff Committee released its third set of rankings on Tuesday night. The Atlantic Coast Conference took quite a hit losing two teams from the rankings, and now are left with three ranked teams. On the upside, two of those teams are in the top 5.

Let’s take a look at the three remaining ACC teams in the CFP Top 25 rankings. As well as their outlook in the final weeks of the season.


(Photo Credit: Terry Mosley / The SkyBoat)
No. 4 Clemson (9-1,6-1)

Last Week: 2

Remaining Schedule: 
@ Wake Forest (6-4, 3-5)
South Carolina (5-5, 3-5 SEC)

The Tigers were of the five top 10 teams that were upset on Saturday.  They suffered a crushing 43-42 defeat at the hands of Pittsburg. But with Michigan, and to a larger extent Washington, also losing head coach Dabo Swinney and his team find themselves still the playoff hunt, and controlling their own destiny. Wins against Wake Forest, South Carolina and an ACC Championship will all but seal their place in the top 4.

The enigma that has been Deshaun Watson this season. In Saturday’s loss to the Panthers, Watson threw for 580 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, he also threw 3 interceptions, including an ugly one that gave the Panthers the opportunity to win the game. This is not an aberration either. In Clemson’s six games that were decided by one score or less, Watson has had 13 turnovers. In those same six, he has averaged over 400 total yards and has scored 17 touchdowns. As great as Watson can be, his turnovers are a critical ailment of this team. In order to win the next three games, and not to mention the CFP, the Tigers and Watson are going to have to clean up the mistakes. Wake Forest will be no easy task, they gave Louisville everything they could handle for three quarters last week and are hungry to knock off a top team.

What they need to do to get in:
Wins against Wake Forest, South Carolina and an ACC Championship will surely seal their place in the top 4.


(Photo Credit: Chris Tell / The SkyBoat)
No. 5 Louisville 

Last Week: 6

Remaining Schedule: 
@Houston (8-2, 5-2 AAC)
Kentucky (4-4, 5-5)

The Cardinals got off to a slow start against Wake Forest, last Saturday. They trailed 12-3 going into the half.  Led by running back Brandon Radcliffe, who had three touchdowns and 141 yards, Louisville would run away with it in the fourth quarter to secure the blow out win 44-12. The victory underlined the fact that the Cardinals are more than just Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson, who had a big night on the ground as well running for 153 yards. The victory coupled with the aforementioned upsets, head coach Bobby Petrino, and the Louisville faithful thought they would move in to the top 4. The committee did not see it that way, though they did move into the fifth spot ahead of Washington.

Louisville’s loss to Clemson earlier in the year has put them in a tough spot. Clemson having won the head to head match-up gets the nod ahead of them. The committee also sees the Cardinals’ resume as a weak spot. They have only beaten one ranked opponent, where as the Tigers and Ohio state have beaten three, and Michigan has won against two top ten teams. The lack of strength in the schedule could continue to hurt Petrino’s bunch. They won’t be able to add to it much with games against Houston and Kentucky remaining. Earlier in the season it looked as tough the Houston game would have major playoff implications as they were a top 10 team. However, two losses by the Cougars, has really hurt the strength of the match-up.

What they need to do to get in: 
Win out, and root for Michigan. If the Wolverines win, Ohio State would presumably be out of the picture with two losses, and the Cardinals should get in. If Ohio State beats Michigan, Penn State goes to the Big 10 title game if the Nittany Lions Win out, which wold keep the Buckeyes out to the title game. This creates a situation where the committee may take two teams from that conference with a one loss Buckeyes team getting a spot with the champion. They should also be rooting for Deshaun Watson to keep making mistakes. A loss to Wake Forest and Louisville will go to the ACC championship. If that doesn’t happen a Clemson loss against either South Carolina or the ACC championship would knock out the Tigers. As you can tell though it’s complicated and the Cardinals just need to take care of their business and wait and see.


(Photo Credit: Don Montague / The SkyBoat)
 No. 17 Florida State (7-3,4-3)

Last Week: 18

Remaining Schedule: 
@ Syracuse (4-6, 2-4)
Florida (7-2, 5-2 SEC)

The Seminoles steam rolled Boston College 45-7, and moved up one spot in the rankings. With no CFP hopes, Florida State is just trying to strengthen their ranking and prepare for next year.

It is interesting that in the first week of the rankings, the Seminoles were the only three loss team, checking in at No. 22. The second week they were the highest ranked three loss team at No. 18. Now, in the third week they see, three teams ahead of them with three losses, No. 13 USC, No.15 Auburn and No. 16 LSU.

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