Clemson drops and falls outside top 10 in ESPN’s college football rankings

·2 min read

After missing the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2015, Clemson will have to re-earn a top 10 spot in rankings next season.

Led by one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, the Tigers finished the 2021 season with a 10-3 record, but compared to their previous appearances in the CFP, it was considered a down year by many.

With the drop in performance, ESPN doesn’t have the same level of optimism for next season as in years past, as it has Clemson at No. 12 in the country in the way-too-early top 25. In the top 11 and above Clemson, some notable teams are North Carolina State, USC, Oklahoma State, Utah and Michigan State.

Here’s what ESPN’s Mark Schlabach had to say about the Tigers dropping from their previous ranking at No. 11.

Previous ranking: 11
2021 record: 10-3 (6-2 ACC)
Returning starters: 10 offense, 6 defense, 1 special teams
Key departures: LB Baylon Spector, LB James Skalski, CB Andrew Booth Jr., FS Nolan Turner, CB Mario Goodrich, WR Justyn Ross
Key additions: QB Cade Klubnik, CB Jeadyn Lukus, WR Antonio Williams, OT Collin Sadler, WR Adam Randall, CB Toriano Pride, CB Sherrod Covil Jr.
Spring update: Clemson has two new coordinators — Brandon Streeter on offense and Wes Goodwin on defense — and coach Dabo Swinney hopes the Tigers return to their old ways after slipping with three losses in 2021. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei shed about 25 pounds in the offseason after struggling in his first season as the full-time starter. Uiagalelei left spring practice atop the depth chart, but he might continue to be pushed by Klubnik, an early enrollee, who looked good over 15 practices. Clemson’s defensive line had its way in the spring game against a thin offensive line. Randall, who was expected to help the wide receiver corps, might miss the season after suffering a torn ACL in his knee during the spring.

Clemson has a manageable regular season schedule in 2022, so if the Tigers can win at least 11 games in that stretch, they should return to a high position in the rankings.

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