Clemson’s campaign for the College Football Playoff earned its biggest boost Saturday.
Clemson impressed voters with its 58-0 drubbing of Miami. The victory vaulted Clemson three spots to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, its highest ranking since Oct. 13, 2013. Clemson garnered six first place votes and pushed past Louisiana State and Texas Christian.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney does not anticipate the national favor will affect the Tigers as they prepare for their fourth consecutive unranked opponent, North Carolina State.
“These guys understand, because they’ve been so close their whole career here,” Swinney said. “These seniors, they know how critical one game is or just one play in a game. They have a sense of urgency that’s pretty special.”
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Clemson remained No. 6 in the USA Today coaches poll. At least two of the five teams ranked ahead of Clemson will lose before the end of the regular season. No. 1 Ohio State will host No. 5 Michigan State on Nov. 21. No. 2 Baylor will visit No. 3 TCU on Nov. 27.
Aside from its climb toward the top of the polls, Clemson’s campaign will also benefit from what is near the bottom of the Top 25.
ACC Atlantic Division rival Florida State dropped to No. 17 in the AP and No. 15 in the coaches poll. The Seminoles suffered their first loss Saturday as Georgia Tech blocked and returned a field goal attempt on the final play of the game.
If Clemson advances to the ACC championship game, it could face Duke or Pittsburgh. Duke is ranked No. 18 in the coaches poll and No. 22 in the AP. Pittsburgh is ranked No. 24 in the coaches and No. 23 in the AP.
The loss Utah suffered to Southern California leaves no undefeated teams in the Pacific 12. An undefeated champion from any Power 5 conference should trump a one-loss team. Thus, a clean sweep through the regular season and an ACC title should secure Clemson a playoff spot, especially if it includes two more victories against ranked foes.
Tigers vs. Wolfpack
Who: Clemson at N.C. State
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh