WhatIfSports national championship power rankings: comparing Clemson to past champs
Clemson’s ascension to college football royalty is complete. The school’s second national title — and first since an Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska capped the 1981 season — was years in the making. Dabo Swinney took over the reins at Clemson in 2008 and the Tigers have been on an upward trajectory ever since. Last season’s championship game loss to Alabama could have been the pinnacle for the Tigers, but instead they navigated back to the College Football Playoff Championship and avenged their loss to the Crimson Tide.
So how do the Tigers stack up to recent champions? Using WhatIfSports.com’s college football simulation engine, we played Clemson against 2015 Alabama, 2014 Ohio State and every champion of the BCS era. Every team in the field played every opponent 51 times, and we tracked overall winning percentage and the score of each matchup. Check out how the Tigers fared:
|2016 Clemson vs. Every National Champion of the BCS/Playoff Era|
|Rank||Team||Win %||Avg. PF||Avg. PA||Simulate vs. Clemson|
|1||2012 Alabama||83.8||26.7||11.7||SimMatchup >|
|2||2011 Alabama||76.3||30.8||19.7||SimMatchup >|
|3||2001 Miami||70.7||29.0||19.9||SimMatchup >|
|4||2009 Alabama||70.5||28.2||18.9||SimMatchup >|
|5||2004 USC||68.9||30.4||21.2||SimMatchup >|
|6||2013 Florida State||60.1||28.9||24.1||SimMatchup >|
|7||2008 Florida||59.6||25.5||21.2||SimMatchup >|
|8||2005 Texas||54.8||25.4||22.9||SimMatchup >|
|9||2015 Alabama||52.8||23.6||22.6||SimMatchup >|
|10||1999 Florida State||52.3||24.1||24.9||SimMatchup >|
|11||1998 Tennessee||41.4||19.2||23.4||SimMatchup >|
|12||2003 LSU||39.9||20.8||24.6||SimMatchup >|
|13||2000 Oklahoma||38.6||20.3||24.7||SimMatchup >|
|14||2006 Florida||36.4||18.0||22.9||SimMatchup >|
|15||2014 Ohio State||33.8||21.9||29.5||SimMatchup >|
|16||2002 Ohio State||32.3||17.1||24.9||SimMatchup >|
|17||2016 Clemson||28.3||20.4||29.8||National Champions!|
|18||2007 LSU||27.5||17.1||28.3||SimMatchup >|
|19||2010 Auburn||22.0||16.8||28.5||SimMatchup >|
Clemson struggled against the elite field, finishing 17th out of 19 teams in winning percentage. The biggest shortcoming for the Tigers was a defense that yielded the most points of any team in the simulation. It was a solid unit during the 2016 season though, holding opponents to 18.0 points per game, which ranked 10th nationally.
While Alabama might have come up short in this year’s title game, the Crimson Tide still placed four teams in the tournament, more than any other school. Bama was dominant in the simulation, as its representatives averaged a 70.8 winning percentage and nabbed three of the top four spots. Only the 2015 champions finished outside the top four.
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