Clemson loses to Georgia - and as crazy as it sounds, their playoff lives are already at stake
The single biggest game of the opening weekend was of course Georgia-Clemson, a Top 5 matchup with real, long-term playoff and potential national title implications. It was no secret that whoever lost this game would be behind the eight-ball all season long, one of the many things that makes college football the most unique and fun sport to cover.
It's also what made what actually happened on the field that much more fascinating: Put simply, it was a Georgia a** kicking. The final score was "only" 10-3, and Georgia scored its only touchdown on a pick-six. But if you watched the game, the Dawgs absolutely dominated. Especially on defense. They held Clemson to just 180 yards of total offense, including a staggering two yards rushing for the Tigers.
Put simply, you could argue that Georgia's defense played as well - if not better - than any one unit anywhere in college football this weekend.
It also puts Georgia in a very advantageous situation going forward.
Clemson was by far the hardest game left on Georgia's schedule until the SEC championship game. The Dawgs have a very manageable cross-division schedule, where they do not play Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M in conference play, with their cross-division games coming against Arkansas and Auburn. They also get an especially weak SEC East, where Florida appears to be down and Tennessee is rebuilding. Kentucky realistically might pose the biggest threat to them in the East.
What's more interesting however is now what's ahead for Clemson.
While it sounds stupid to start talking playoff on September 4th, with Clemson it's probably worth discussing.
As bad as Clemson looked on Saturday, it's no secret that they will almost certainly steamroll the rest of the ACC, and of course, put themselves in position to make a seventh straight College Football Playoff. Yes, they looked awful Saturday. And in theory it won't matter. Mainly because Georgia is by far the best team they'll see all year.
They'll have plenty of time to make up for the loss.
Just one problem. Even if they win out: Will they have the resume to get there?
As it stands, Clemson doesn't have a single ranked team left on their schedule. Like, not at all, the rest of the year. In theory, the best teams that they will play are NC State and Pitt, not exactly a murder's row of opponents. Especially relative to who they will have to compete with for a playoff berth.
Oh, and to make matters worse, the assumption all along was that at the very least they would get a half-decent Miami or North Carolina team in the ACC title game. Yeah, well, both already have a loss, and with the way both played, there's no reason to think that there won't be more coming along the way.
So realistically, what the heck is Clemson's resume going to look like by the end of the season? Largely dominated by the best team they played (Georgia), and then what? A bunch of wins over three, four and five loss teams?
Then compare it with who they could potentially be competing for a playoff berth against - especially any one-loss SEC team. Georgia would clearly have the advantage over them. But also, if the Dawgs don't lose a game in the regular season - and they should be favored in every game - any team that beats them in the SEC title game (Alabama?) should have the edge, even if they have a loss along the way. It also opens up a window for any one-loss SEC team that doesn't make the title game to get in as well (say, Texas A&M).
Again, it feels stupid to talk College Football Playoff in Week 1 of the season.
But for Clemson, Saturday's loss had real implications.
And not in a good way.
Make sure to follow Aaron Torres Online on Twitter
Follow Aaron Torres Online on Facebook
Follow Aaron Torres Online on Instagram