First the volunteers. Now the tigers. South Carolina has emerged as the scariest team for outside playoff hopes.
With Saturday’s 31-30 win for the Gamecocks over Clemson, they threw a rock in the CFP pond that will make waves en route to the championship weekend. It put Clemson up 2-10 in the year with losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina, and opened the door for some other backend hopefuls to at least have some hope for their conference championships.
Clemson, who avoided every slip up until the clash with the Fighting Irish, is now effectively finding himself out of the playoff chase. But now the bigger question revolves around bowl games.
Clemson, of course, still has the ACC Championship against North Carolina next weekend. However, much of the mystique will be lost after this demoralizing loss.
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Here’s some of the impact of Clemson’s loss on other Chase teams.
The rankings reflect the CFP rankings after week 12
Previous rank: 1
The Bulldogs have settled into business after an early scare against Georgia Tech and they won’t feel the effects of a No. 8 upset.
Georgia will now play LSU in the SEC championship next week. Win or lose, keeping them out of the postseason can be difficult.
Ohio State (11-1)
Previous rank: 2
Ohio State lost to Michigan, meaning they’ll likely drop out of the top 4 before next weekend.
Clemson’s loss still doesn’t necessarily directly impact OSU as even with a win they wouldn’t skip it. Ohio State should find themselves in 5th or 6th place and won’t be playing for the Big Ten Championship next week.
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When there are significant effects, it helps OSU on its way to the playoffs, as every potential playoff team that loses helps those that win or don’t play next week. Ohio State wants help from Georgia and whoever else USC is playing. But Clemson is helping the Buckeyes to a degree.
Previous rank: 3
Michigan continues to shock the CFB world, with the Wolverines throttling Ohio State 45-23 after a surprise passing play.
Michigan should find itself firmly at No. 2 as it heads into the Big Ten Championship next week, where it dominated Iowa last season. Again, Clemson’s loss had little to no impact on that game.
Previous rank: 4
TCU is the only top four team to have benefited from this upset.
The Horned Frogs are widely regarded by the committee as the weakest undefeated team, and playing in the Big 12 has done them no favours. If they beat Iowa State on Saturday, their position is secured through next week’s Big 12 Championship Game. However, Clemson’s loss gives them some breathing room, widening the gap from No. 8 to No. 4 overall.
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Previous rank: 5
LSU knows it has to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game to have a path to the playoffs, and that starts Saturday with Texas A&M.
The Tigers, a two-loss team from the start, are largely unaffected by Clemson’s playoff scoring loss. Where it starts to matter is that even if LSU loses to either TAMU or Georgia, it could help them which bowl game they end up in.
Previous rank: 6
Much like LSU, USC has its own path, but it also needs a little help. The Trojans look like they have a direct shot to the Rose Bowl through Notre Dame and with a Pac-12 championship win.
Clemson’s loss weakens the field USC plays against in the postseason, but the Trojans still need some help. If they don’t get that help, Clemson’s loss won’t affect their Rose Bowl prospects.
Previous rank: 7
This is where the effects become a little more tangible.
The Crimson Tide were right ahead of Clemson in the standings, and they were scheduled to face Clemson after the last standings in the Orange Bowl.
Since Clemson loses, that will likely get mixed up. It doesn’t stop the Tigers from playing in an NY6 Bowl, but they could be playing someone else now if they close the ACC.
Previous rank: 9
Unsurprisingly, the teams after Clemson in the overall standings benefit the most from a Clemson loss.
As a result of its game pending with Oregon State, Oregon now sees its opponent potentially getting reshuffled in a potential bowl game. If Oregon continues to beat the Beavers, they will be firmly grouped in the second tier of teams alongside USC and Alabama.
Previous rank: 10
The Volunteers are also affected by Clemson’s loss in interesting ways.
Should they beat Vanderbilt on Saturday night, they could actually play the Tigers in a significant bowl game. Of course, the loss of Hendon Hooker had dire consequences for Tennessee. But injuries won’t keep them from a New Years Six Bowl game if they continue to attend to business. You should still find yourself at the top of the CFP leaderboard and we could very well get a Lost to SCAR Bowl.
Florida State (9-3)
Previous rank: 16
In honorable mentions from affected teams, you have the Seminoles at number 16.
Clemson’s loss more or less eliminates the ‘Noles from NY6 competition as the ACC will not lose a team to the playoffs.
Ultimately, Clemson’s loss doesn’t have a shattering impact on the playoff picture. We’ve got to a point in the season where teams have to do things themselves if they want to progress. But it weakens the field for CFP hopefuls, which is always welcome at this point in the season. An ACC team with two losses doesn’t really have a way into the postseason. That could open the door for a two-loss SEC team or a one-loss Big Ten or Pac-12 team to sneak in.