It appears Clemson’s back to being the underdog.
The cycles of the college football preseason have had a roller-coaster effect on the Tigers. It’s gone something like this…
1. Spring: Deshaun Watson is progressing well – Clemson’s a pretty-sure ACC pick.
2. Later spring: Everett Golson transfers to FSU – the polling starts to shift to the ‘Noles.
3. Summer: Watson’s still good and FSU star RB Dalvin Cook is indefinitely suspended – Clemson’s the ACC media pick and a playoff contender.
4. Now: The Tigers have lost some key personnel and Cook’s back with FSU – the meter’s moving back to the Seminoles.
A gander at some recent bowl and playoff projections shows FSU a favorite in the Atlantic, but a fourth-consecutive ACC crown is no cinch.
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit is taking Georgia Tech over Florida State in Charlotte – leaving the ACC out of the playoff in favor of Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Arizona State.
Both the Orlando Sentinel and SB Nation peg Clemson for lower-tier bowls, back in Orlando and Nashville against ‘name' programs, and both send FSU to the Playoff 6 Peach Bowl.
The experts on Fox Sports’ panel all shut the ACC out of the playoff, but Bruce Feldman has gone on record to pick Clemson in the ACC. Fox’s Clay Travis, for what it’s worth, likes the Tigers to make the final four and Watson to win the Heisman: “He’s the most electric quarterback in college football on a team that will surprise everyone.” Joel Klatt lists the Tigers among teams he likes as a ‘sleeper.’
Sporting News’ duo is split on the ACC crown – Bill Bender taking the Tigers in the Atlantic/ACC and Matt Hayes picking FSU in the division and Georgia Tech overall. Bender has Clemson “in the conversation” for the playoff.