Hope Hurts the Most
September 30, 2019

The College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter: Is Clemson actually bad?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Clemson at North Carolina

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to the unveiling of perhaps the greatest technological innovation of our time: THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF HOPE-O-METER! Over the course of the 2019 season, we will put our ultra-violet spectrum of college football emotion to the test, processing each weekend's scoreboard—and it's array of hopes, dreams, and delusions—to determine the state of the all-important CFP push. Here's where things stand as of today...

Don't look now, but we are halfway to the first official College Football Playoff ranking of the 2019 season. We don't need to wait for some fancy schmancy FPI algorithm to make bold, unsubstantiated claims that will make us look like idiots as early as next weekend, however. We have the College Football Playoff Hope-O-Meter for that!

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Mortal Lock:

OK, so Ohio State are far from a mortal lock. They’ve barely even scratched the surface of their Big Ten schedule, which will see them play Michigan State (H), Wisconsin (H), Penn State (H), and Michigan (lol) before the end of the season. But if they keep playing as they have through five weeks—especially on Saturday night—they will be in the final quartet come December, full stop. Under the lights in Lincoln, the Buckeyes steamrolled Scott Frost’s Nebraska, leading 48-0 late in the 3rd quarter before putting in the scrubs and giving up a consolation TD. Spearheaded by their weather-proof rushing attack (368 yds/53 atts on Saturday) and a new-look zone defense that ranks second in the entire country, the Buckeyes, as currently constructed, look unbeatable. Time will have a lot to say about that, of course, but if their nerve holds, there’s no stopping them.

Cautiously Optimistic:

A week after playing Notre Dame off with a rousing rendition of “Taps,” we’re back to say that rumors of their demise were at least slightly exaggerated. The Fighting Irish fought back from a halftime deficit to topple the second best team in the ACC (not saying much, but still), helping them to leap-frog undefeated Florida in the AP Top 10 this week despite that narrow loss to Georgia. The opportunity for a statement win has passed—BC in the Meinke Catholicism Bowl doesn’t count—but convincing wins against USC and Michigan could certainly keep Notre Dame’s CFP hopes on life support down the stretch.

Cautiously Pessimistic:

Just gonna throw this out there: Is Clemson, by Clemson’s obscenely high standards, actually bad? After a sloppy game in Chapel Hill on Saturday, when the Tigers were one missed two-point conversion away from losing to a team who just lost to Appalachian State, you have to at least ask the question. But it’s not just that. This is the second time this season the Clemson offense has failed to crack 30 and Trevor Lawrence continues to look more like Kelly Bryant that Deshaun Watson. At some point we all assume they’re going to snap out of it, but it’s Week 6, maybe they won’t. The good news is they get Florida State and Louisville the next two weeks and don’t face anything resembling a test until a showdown with a sneaky undefeated Wake Forest squad on November 16th. Again, they’re probably fine, but it’s worth wondering what will happen to Clemson if there’s still an undefeated Alabama/LSU, an undefeated Ohio State, an undefeated Oklahoma, and a one-loss Georgia lurking come December 8th.

Fugghedaboutit: LA Football

No actual contender really nuked their resume this weekend, but it’s worth pointing out the state of LA football at the moment, poignantly summed up by former Trojan Matt Barkley on Sunday. UCLA, following a loss to Arizona, is 1-4 and the Chip Kelly regime is suddenly up to its eyeballs in it. Meanwhile USC, just when they seemed to be gaining some traction, limped to yet another loss to Washington. Neither team has even sniffed the CFP since its inception and won’t again this year, and it’s officially time to panic out in La La Land.

Hopeful College Football Moment of the Week:

After a grisly 8-32 record over the last four years, the Chris Ash era at Rutgers is officially over, with the school announcing that it had relieved Ash and OC John McNulty of their respective sentences, er, contracts following Saturday's 52-0 nothing loss to Michigan. Frankly the only surprising thing about this is the fact the coaching staff lasted 40 games at all—I just assumed Rutgers fired their coach every week. But anyway, the positive stuff: For the first time in a long time—especially if rumors of bringing back Greg Schiano are true—there’s hope for the Scarlet Knights faithful for the first time in a very, very, very long time.