5 Reasons Clemson will make the College Football Playoff

The Clemson Tigers lost in Week 11 but there’s no need to panic. Here’s five reasons they will make the College Football Playoff.

The Clemson Tigers took a loss 43-42 to the Pittsburgh Panthers after playing another close game at home. The Tigers lost in the final seconds and it doesn’t seem they’re taking the loss too badly. And for good reason.

It was the Tigers first loss since 2011 against the NC State Wolfpack, the last game they lost to a conference opponent. Their 21-game home winning streak in Death Valley was snapped as well. However, Clemson still ranks fifth in the AP Poll and still has an opportunity to redeem themselves after their loss.

With one more game left on the conference schedule, along with a few other scenarios, here are five reasons why Clemson will make the College Football Playoff.

Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

5. Clemson Will Win the ACC Atlantic Division

The Clemson Tigers hold the division lead in the ACC Atlantic over Louisville. The Tigers currently sit a spot above Louisville in the current playoff scenario and for good reason. They defeated the Cardinals 42-36 in a comeback victory back on October 1.

The Tigers need one more victory over Wake Forest this week to win the division which will automatically punch their ticket to the ACC Championship Game.

With three games left on the schedule, one would predict things would get better, especially on offense, before they got worse. The defense wasn’t going to play perfect all season long either. Learning from their mistakes against Pittsburgh will take them a long way in making it to the College Football Playoff and to a possible championship.

Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

4. Making the Playoff Last Season Boosts Their Resume This Season

The Clemson Tigers may have one loss this season, but they are still a pretty good football team. Their struggles have come mainly from overdoing it on the offensive side of the ball. By the end of the game, the defense has to work harder to try and get the job done in the end.

Their 14-1 bid last season that fell short in the National Championship game last season. But it is still on the minds of this season’s playoff committee. With just about the same players, the Tigers have shown their development as a team despite their one loss.

The playoff committee will certainly keep last season in perspective going forward for the Clemson Tigers. They are 6-1 in conference play and have Wake Forest on the schedule next week.  A return to the ACC Championship game and a victory will be good enough for Clemson to return to the College Football Playoff.

Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

3. Offensive Adjustments Will Boost Their Play

The Clemson Tigers have recorded 500 yards or more of total offense in five straight games. And despite that, they still have work to do on the offensive side of the ball.

The Clemson Tigers are using their receivers more, but its come at the expense of running back Wayne Gallman. Receiver Mike Williams leads the team in receiving yards with 956 yards. Sophomore receiver Deon Cain leads the team in receiving touchdowns with nine. Cain is only fifth on the team with 25 catches.

Williams leads the team with 67 catches, receiver Artavis Scott is second with 54 catches. The Tigers have really spread the ball around through the air behind the arm of quarterback Deshaun Watson. Six Tigers receivers have over 200 receiving yards on the team this season. Nine different Clemson players have a receiving touchdown this season. In comparison,10 Clemson players had receiving touchdowns last season.

The Tigers will need to look to Gallman a bit more to even things out. The team had a season-high 31 first downs via pass last game. They had zero first downs via the rush last game. The previous week, they had a season-high 11 first downs via the rush. Gallman has 11 rushing touchdowns but his rushing yards currently sit at 670 rushing yards. They’ll need to adjust the pass-rush ratio going forward to get back to the College Football Playoff.

Getting Gallman going will be a good start. He averaged 108.1 rushing yards last season. This season, he’s at 67 rushing yards per game.

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2. The Tigers defense will come up big to close out the season.

Despite allowing 43 points and 464 yards on defense last week, Clemson is still allowing 18.4 points per game. Their defense is playing significantly better this season and that’s what’s carried them this far to a 9-1 record.

Expect a huge performance from linebacker Ben Boulware and this Tigers’ defense in their final two games to boost their College Football Playoff resume.  Boulware leads the team in tackles with 82. The defense leads the conference in sacks this season with 35. Defensive end Carlos Watkins leads the team with 6.5 sacks. Sophomore defensive end Clelin Ferrell is second with four sacks.

12 different Clemson players have an interception this season. Jadar Johnson leads the team with four interceptions so far. Their fifteen interceptions as a team leads the ACC as well. It has been quite the year for the Clemson defense. They have closed out a lot of games with sack, not a common trait for this fourth-ranked squad. Expect big things for them to boost them into the College Football Playoff.

Dec 5, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (L) holds up the trophy for fans after winning the ACC football championship game at Bank of America Stadium. The Tigers won 45-37. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

1. Clemson wins the ACC Championship Game

The Clemson Tigers are on a collision course to this year’s ACC Championship game with either the Virginia Tech Hokies or North Carolina Tar Heels. With just three possible games left before some of these players leave for the NFL Draft, expect peak performances from some  of them going forward. Their play will elevate them to another ACC Championship, possibly back-to-back.

If the Tigers can win the ACC Championship game, they will make the College Football Playoff. They face Wake Forest to clinch then they’ll have a the championship game. They should beat South Carolina easily as well, preventing an upset.

Once that happens, the ACC Championship game is key in boosting the Clemson Tigers’ chances at making the College Football Playoffs. A return is eminent once that happens, but first Clemson will need to take care of business to close out the regular season.

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