Clemson football has reached the College Football Playoff six years in a row, making every four-team field since the first year of the system in 2014, when Florida State reached it from the ACC. ESPN's Paul Finebaum thinks that impressive run by Dabo Swinney's program could come to an end this fall.
Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Oklahoma are pretty regular participants. Notre Dame has also made the field multiple times. The Tigers have been about as secure a Playoff lock as there is in the sport, but that could change with a revamped roster this fall.
“I would take Clemson out for this reason, Greeny. They meet the team that I think can get in in the first game of the season,” Finebaum said on Get Up on Wednesday morning, when asked by Mike Greenberg which of the "usual suspects" he'd count out this year.
"You have Georgia and Clemson in Charlotte, and if Georgia wins this game, and right now I think they’re going to, they vault to number one in the country perhaps... So, we could see a changing of the guard by the end of the first weekend of the regular season.”
Finebaum thinks Georgia football has what it takes to run the table to the SEC Championship, where they could face fellow SEC power Alabama. Even a loss there may not be enough to knock the Dawgs back out, and a head-to-head over Clemson would be a big feather in their cap if the two were in the running for a College Football Playoff spot.
ESPN's College Football Playoff insider Heather Dinich agrees with Finebaum:
"I’m not convinced that their offensive line is going to be as good this year. They’ve got questions at wide receiver even if Justyn Ross is cleared to come back, and who is behind their new quarterback in D.J. Uiagalelei? I don’t think Dabo Swinney even knows that. So god forbid he gets hurt, that is a huge question mark at quarterback in terms of depth at that position. That Georgia game is the right place to start that conversation.”
If Clemson beats Georgia in Week 1, they're going to be a major favorite to take one of those four spots yet again. A loss will introduce some questions, especially if they don't look like a team that can run through the ACC and avoid a second loss.