Clemson Football: Tigers 9th in ESPN’s Updated Power Ranking

Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney walks with his team before the 2022 Orange Bowl against the Tennessee Volunteers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney walks with his team before the 2022 Orange Bowl against the Tennessee Volunteers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /


Clemson Football has been ranked 9th in Mark Schlaback’s Updated College Football Top  25 Power Rankings: Spring Edition.

This ranking is a vast improvement from the Tiger’s no.15 spot in ESPN’s 2023 Way Too Early Top 25 power rankings, which were released back in January. Clemson’s jump of six places ties Texas for the biggest move up by any team featured in the previous rankings.


While some Tiger fans may feel Clemson deserves to be ranked higher, this no. 9 ranking seems to be an accurate representation of where this team currently stands. It displays their achievements from a year prior, but also represents the work cut out for them in 2023.

Last year was a vast improvement when compared to the Tiger’s 2021 campaign. While they did not get back to the CFB Playoffs, they were able to finish undefeated in conference play, reclaiming their crown as champions of the ACC.

However, key losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina left the Tigers regarded as a second-class national contender. In 2023, the Tigers must play to their potential if they hope to defend their ACC title, and move up the ranks and push for a playoff spot.

The good news for Clemson is they should have the opportunity to do just that. With the exception of FSU, the Tigers return as many starters as anyone in Schlaback’s Top 10. Similarly, the acquisition of OC Garrett Riley suggests the offense should be far more prolific than what Clemson has shown in the last two years.

However, pre-season speculations only carry so much weight, and come September, the Tigers must prove their worth on the field. Until that time comes, though, Clemson fans should feel content seeing their team regarded as a Top 10 team.


The top ten features all the teams one might expect to see. Georgia highlights the list at no. 1, with Michigan sitting just behind them at no. 2.

FSU and USC enter ranked no. 3 and no.4, respectively. The decision to rank these teams this high may be a bit controversial, as neither team won their conference championship nor a New Year’s six bowl in 2022. Ranking them above national powerhouses no. 5 Ohio State and no. 6 Alabama seems to be a bit premature.

LSU comes in at 7th, Penn State at 8th, Clemson of course in 9th, before the top ten is rounded out by Texas. These four teams each have a great deal of potential, and likely more than one will have the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot late into the year.


FSU at 3


I understand Florida State looks good. I get that they finished 2022 with 6 straight wins. I agree that they have a Heisman contender in quarterback Jordan Travis. And I know that they are expected to return 18 starters, as well as a few impressive additions from the transfer portal.

But number 3? Really?

I don’t have a problem with FSU being ranked in the Top 10. I don’t even have a problem with them being ranked ahead of Clemson, despite their inability to compete with the Tigers for the last 8 years.

What I do have a problem with, however, is the Seminoles have seemingly been granted a top seed without having proved their worth.

FSU earned only one win over a team that finished in the top 25 in 2022, a 24-23 win over LSU in the Tiger’s first contest of the season, a game that was decided by a missed extra point.

Furthermore, 5 of those 6 straight final wins came against teams that finished below .500. The sixth win came against a 7-6 Syracuse team that lost 6 of their final 7 games.

I am not saying that FSU isn’t a good team, because they are. And I believe they may have the potential to fight for a playoff spot. But can’t we at least wait to see if they can live up to the hype before placing them above proven programs like OSU and Alabama? Again, no issues with them being in the top 10, but number 3 is too high for right now.

Notre Dame at 13

It seems Notre Dame enters the season overrated almost every year, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case with this ranking.

No. 13 seems to be a good spot for the Irish. Notre Dame showed flashes of greatness in 2022, as they finished the year winning 6 of their final 7 games, including a dominant home-win over Clemson and an impressive Bowl win over a hot South Carolina squad. However, losses against Marshall, Stanford, and USC left more to be desired from the Irish.

They deserve to be ranked above the teams Schlaback put behind them, but, until the Irish can prove their ability to play to their potential consistently, it’s hard to put them much higher than no. 13.

If Notre Dame is able to pick up in 2023 where they left off, they may have the opportunity to break into the top 10 and perhaps compete for a playoff spot. That Clemson-ND matchup on Nov. 4th will be a big statement game for both of those programs.

TCU Down to 16

The fall of TCU is already in full swing, and the Horned Frogs have not even lined up for a game since their National Championship loss to Georgia.

It is a bit disheartening to see a program fall so far, so quickly. But, unfortunately for Frog fans, this no.16 ranking is probably pretty accurate.

Since their national title appearance, TCU has endured a program wide exodus, as the departure of OC Garrett Riley sparked several TCU players to enter the transfer portal. Similarly, the loss of the 2022 Davey O’Brien Award winner Max Duggan leaves a big hole behind center for head coach Sonny Dykes to fill.

While a no. 16 ranking seems fitting for the Horned Frogs for now–they were just in the National Championship for goodness sakes!–it seems unlikely that TCU will be able to replicate anything close to the success they found in 2022. Perhaps the talent that remains on the roster can maintain the program’s presence in the top-25, although it seems more likely that key Big 12 losses will push them out of the top rankings.

North Carolina at 21

North Carolina suffered an abysmal finish to last year’s campaign. After beginning the year 9-1, the Tar Heels dropped each of their last four games to finish at 9-5. However, with the exception of their losses to Clemson and Notre Dame, their remaining three losses came by only 3 points or less. Had the Tar Heels been able to make a few plays here or there, UNC could have finished last year at 12-2.

While no. 21 seems a bit low for this team, I don’t mind it too much considering they are currently riding a four game losing streak. However, if the Tar Heels are able to clean up some defensive concerns, and Drake Maye is able to repeat the success of his sophomore year, expect North Carolina to work themselves up the ranks once entering ACC play.

South Carolina Unranked

While it never dulls a Tiger fan’s day to see Carolina left out of the Top 25, this is a decision I cannot understand. Sure, South Carolina won’t be raising a SEC Championship trophy in 2023, but they’ll enter the year with a shot to be the 3rd or 2nd best team in the East.

I’m not saying the Gamecocks should be considered among the nation’s best, but perhaps they should be slotted somewhere near the back of the top-25. If Wisconsin and Kentucky are in, it’s hard to understand why a South Carolina team that beat both Tennessee and Clemson in 2022, and are returning star quarterback Spencer Rattler in 2023, are left out.


Pre-season rankings have long-since been criticized for being arbitrary, unnecessary, and riddled with biases. Truth be told, they are!

As none of these teams have lined up for a single game in the new season, the only aspects pre-season rankings can be based upon are predetermined ideals about a team, and how that may or may not translate to success.

Once the games actually start, these rankings will mean nothing, and a team will only be judged based on their success in the games.

Until then, however, Clemson fans can rest assured knowing the nation’s top analysts view the Tigers as one of the nation’s premier teams entering the 2023 season.