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LAist-CS Week 5 Rankings: Clemson Rising

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After Clemson beat Auburn at home, I began to take notice. After they beat Florida State at home, I was intrigued but still reluctant to buy in. I’ve done that before and have been burned. So I held off judgment until Saturday when they had to square off against ACC juggernaut Virginia Tech on the road.

Clemson did it.

They held the Hokies offense and special teams to three points, and head coach Dabo Swinney’s boys got him 23 points. I buy in.

Clemson still have several challenges in their schedule. They have to go to Atlanta on Oct. 29 for a showdown with Georgia Tech, to Columbia on Nov. 26 against South Carolina and either a rematch (if there are no surprises) against Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte, NC.

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But I believe in the Tigers. The Hokies had no answer for defensive end Andre Branch who sacked quarterback Logan Thomas three times. And in so doing Clemson held the Hokies to only 258 yards of offense, 133 rushing.

I believe.

Here are the first Top 16 rankings:

1. LSU: Technically their game against Kentucky was an SEC game, but it gave them a week to recover from three ranked opponents in four weeks. They won’t host a ranked team until Saturday when they see the wounded Florida Gators.
2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have also defeated three ranked opponents in four weeks. The only reason I ranked LSU ahead of them is LSU is more fun to watch. Yeah there’s no logic to it, but what in sports is logical?
3. Boise State: The Broncos got their revenge against the Nevada Wolfpack for their lone defeat last year. For the Broncos, it now comes to how well they brutalize their opponents since the rest of their schedule doesn’t look too good especially since TCU has tanked. Welcome to the Mountain West!
4. Oklahoma: I’m still on the fence about the Sooners. We’ll know more this Saturday in their Red River Shootout against Texas. I don’t know. Their close game at home against Missouri still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
5. Wisconsin: Like Boise State, the Badgers have now have a cupcake schedule the rest of the way. As Michigan State showed the world, Ohio State is now beatable at home. So it will now come to how badly the Badgers can beat the rest of the field. At least they get a Big Ten Championship Game.
6. Stanford: They haven’t been challenged, but they have demolished their opponents. UCLA thought it could put up a fight, but Stanford covered the 22 points.
7. Oklahoma State: Like Clemson, the Cowboys have a history of disappointment. Surprisingly the Big 12 is actually pretty decent, so we’ll see how they wind up.
8. Clemson: I believe.
9. Arkansas: After getting pummeled by Alabama, the Razorbacks beat up on future SEC and past Southwest Conference rival Texas A&M. It is at this point where the rankings started to get very difficult. These programs I just have no faith in. They’re just not that good to be in the top of the heap of 120 schools. You may call it parity, I just call it mediocrity. At least it will set up for some nice drama.
10. Oregon: The Ducks have rebounded nicely against their fumble-rama game against LSU. They’re starting to look like the team that made it to the BCS Championship Game last year.
11. Texas: I tried hard not to include the Longhorns here, but they’ve won.
12. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets run the triple-option offense. I hate gimmicky offenses like that, but it has worked all season long. In three weeks they have a date with Clemson.
13. Kansas State: It’s amazing what Bill Snyder does for this team. When he retired, Little Manhattan fell silent. Now that he’s back, they’re world beaters.
14. Michigan: Can they really be back?
15. Nebraska: Sure they lost to Wisconsin, but the rest of the Big Ten isn’t that good. With the resurgence of the Big 12, it looks like Nebraska got out when the getting was good.
16. Auburn: Thank heavens Auburn came around to show what a fraud South Carolina was. But for Auburn that loss to Clemson leaves a bad taste.

Bowl Predictions:

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BCS Championship Game: LSU vs. Boise State.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Stanford.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Oregon.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Texas.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. West Virginia.