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Clemson Has Best Odds to Make 4-Team CFP Field, Improving to -450 Despite #5 Ranking

John Perrotto

by John Perrotto in College Football

Updated Apr 6, 2020 · 1:20 PM PDT

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on the sideline
Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers are -450 favorites to qualify for the four-team College Football Playoff, even though they are on the outside looking in ahead of Week 11. Photo by LambeauLeap80 [CC License].
  • Clemson is No. 5 in the first CFP rankings despite being unbeaten and the defending national champion
  • The Tigers have a very clear path to winning the ACC and finishing 13-0
  • Clemson has outscored its last four opponents 208-45 with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne leading the way

The initial College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings have been released and defending champion Clemson is currently on the outside looking in.

The CFP committee ranks Clemson fifth behind fellow unbeatens Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Penn State. In the Associated Press Poll, the Tigers are No. 4 after LSU, Alabama and Ohio State and ahead of Penn State.

The oddsmakers love Clemson’s chances of reach the CFP, though, according to the updated Four-Team Playoffs odds.

Odds to Make/Miss College Football Playoff

Team Odds to Make Playoffs Odds to Miss Playoffs
Clemson Tigers -450 +360
Ohio State Buckeyes -300 +250
Alabama Crimson Tide -250 +210
LSU Tigers -240 +200
Georgia Bulldogs +265 -325
Oregon Ducks +360 -450
Penn State Nittany Lions +400 -500
Baylor Bears +700 -1000
Utah Utes +700 -1000
Minnesota Golden Gophers +1400 -2500

Odds taken Nov. 6.

Clemson Has Easy Path to 13-0

Clemson is 9-0 for the fourth time in the last five seasons and sixth time in school history. The Tigers are rolling along in the ACC Atlantic, where they have a 6-0 record and lead Wake Forest (3-1) and Louisville (3-2).

Clemson visits North Carolina State (4-4 overall, 1-3 in the ACC) on Saturday night, then hosts Wake Forest (7-1 overall), ranked No. 19 in the AP poll, on Nov. 16 in its conference finale. The Tigers wrap up the regular season with a visit to in-state rival South Carolina (4-5) on Nov. 30 in a non-conference game.

This week, Clemson is a 32.5-point favorite. The Tigers figure to be three-touchdown favorites over Wake Forest, despite the Demon Deacons’ record, and close to the same against South Carolina.

Clemson is all but assured a spot in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 7 and will once again be a massive favorite against whatever team comes out of the muddled Coastal division, which is currently led by Virginia (6-3).

Thus, barring a very big upset, Clemson should be 13-0 by the time the selection convenes on Dec. 8 to pick the four CFP semifinalists.

Tigers Rolling Behind Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne

On Sept. 28, Clemson escaped with a 21-20 victory at North Carolina in its fifth game of the season. However, that is the only time the Tigers have been challenged as they have won their other eight games by an average margin of 36.5 points.

Since the close call in Chapel Hill, Clemson has won four straight games by a combined 208-45 score with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne shining during that stretch.

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Lawrence has thrown 12 touchdowns and three interceptions in the last four games after posting a 9-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio in the first five games.

Etienne has rushed for 640 yards and six touchdowns in the last four weeks after compiling 462 yards and five TDs in the first five games.

Clearly, Clemson is peaking as the season reaches the homestretch.

Loss Could Prove Fatal To Playoff Hopes

Clemson will be in the top four of the final rankings if it wins out.

Alabama hosts LSU this Saturday and Penn State visits Ohio State on Nov. 23. Thus, two of the four teams ahead of the Tigers in the current rankings will have at least one loss in the regular season.

That Alabama-LSU game appears to be a pretty big deal.

However, the chances of Clemson losing a game and still reaching the playoffs are slim. The ACC is considered the weakest of the five power conferences this season — Wake Forest is the only other team in the CFP rankings at No. 19 — and the committee obviously does not hold the Tigers in the same regard as the top-two teams in the SEC and Big Ten.

Don’t Count Out The Teams Below

Even if upsets abound in the upcoming weeks, a one-loss Clemson still might not get in.

Georgia has one loss but almost certainly would make the cut if it were to beat Alabama or LSU in the SEC Championship Game. Oregon and Utah each have one loss and are on course to meet in the Pac-12 championship game with the winner legitimately having a shot to make the four-team field. One-loss Oklahoma could sneak in if it wins out and captures the Big 12 title.

Finally, Minnesota remains unbeaten but the Golden Gophers’ first true test comes Saturday when they host Penn State in a Big Ten showdown. Minnesota also must visit Iowa on Nov. 16 and hosts Wisconsin on Nov. 30, so a three-loss season seems more realistic than a perfect record.

Hard to Pick Against Defending Champs

Yes, Clemson is clearly getting dinged because of the softness of the ACC. However, no team is standing in the way of Clemson and a 13-0 record and the CFP committee is not going to deny an undefeated team the opportunity to defend its title.

Don’t hesitate to bet the “Yes” on Clemson unless you believe Wake or UVA has a legitimate chance to trip up the Tigers.

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