Clemson Football is 2-2, which is the exact record they had in 2021 after four games, with losses to Georgia and North Carolina State.
Clemson would fall out of the AP Top 25 Poll shortly thereafter. That 2021 squad would also drop a game to eventual ACC champion Pittsburgh to fall to 4-3 in late October.
Even though Clemson had lost all three games on the road to opponents who were all ranked for the remainder of the season, Clemson wouldn’t re-enter the AP Top 25 until the week before Thanksgiving.
The catalyst was a win over Wake Forest in Death Valley. The Demon Deacons were ranked 10th in the nation at the time and had been undefeated until two weeks before when they lost to North Carolina in a 58-55 barnburner.
2021 Clemson played their best game of the season against a ranked opponent and beat Wake 48-27. It convinced voters that Clemson did indeed belong in the Top 25. They were only ranked 23rd, but you have to start somewhere.
Returning to the present, several people, both within Clemson Nation and from outside, have commented that Clemson might be the best 2-2 team in the country. Despite that, Clemson will likely find themselves outside the Top 25 until they convince voters that they have corrected the issues that have plagued them so far in 2023.
2-2 is 2-2, after all, no matter how you spin it. Of all the teams that received votes in the most recent poll, Clemson was tied at the bottom with Texas A&M. We might see the best 2-2 team in the country, but most people do not.
This is Clemson’s remaining regular season schedule.
- September 30th: at Syracuse
- October 7th: Wake Forest
- October 21st: at Miami (18th in AP)
- October 26th: at North Carolina State
- November 4th: Notre Dame (11th in AP)
- November 11th: Georgia Tech
- November 18th: North Carolina (15th in AP)
- November 25th: at South Carolina
Clemson Football has multiple opportunities for quality wins this season
Syracuse is undefeated at 4-0. This isn’t the first time the Orange have handled business against teams they should have beaten at the beginning of the season. Last year they were undefeated at 6-0 before visiting Clemson. They finished their season at 7-6 with a backloaded schedule.
The computers tend to like Syracuse, and a win there will likely help Clemson in several of the metrics. Impressing algorithms is different that impressing observers. My gut tells me that even if the Tigers win in the JMA Wireless Dome, it might not be enough for voters to give Clemson a big bump.
The next ranked opponent for the Tigers is Miami. The Hurricanes offense has improved dramatically over last season’s squad that struggled. Their best win is against Texas A&M, who is 3-1. The Hurricanes will play Georgia Tech on the road and then North Carolina in Chapel Hill before they face the Tigers in South Florida.
Even if Miami loses to UNC, I think they will hang on in the Top 25 because the Heels are ranked higher and will have a home-field advantage. I think if Clemson can win in Syracuse and at home against Wake, and then beat the Canes on the road, that will be enough to convince voters to put them back in the Top 25.
If they need more convincing, the next big-time opportunity is against Notre Dame. While the Irish have improved offensively over last season, they will be playing in Death Valley, which gives Clemson a shot at beating them.