Clemson Tigers Are Back in ESPN’s Top 10

The Clemson football team is back in the top 10 following the conclusion of spring practices around the country.

The Tigers moved up from No. 15 to No. 9 in Mark Schlabach’s updated College Football Top 25 Power Rankings on ESPN.

Though Clemson moved up in the rankings, it still is not the highest ranked team from the ACC. Schlabach still believes Florida State is the team to beat in the ACC in 2023, as he ranks the Seminoles No. 3 in his power rankings.

FSU, who went 10-3 last year including a 5-3 mark in ACC, moved up one spot from its No. 4 ranking prior to the start of spring practice.

The Tigers finished 2022 with an 11-3 record, which included an 8-0 mark in the ACC and winning their seventh ACC Championship in the last eight years. However, despite being defending ACC Champions and rolling through a league when many perceived Clemson to be “slipping,” the Tigers are still considered behind the Seminoles in the ACC race.

Clemson returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense from last year’s Orange Bowl team.

“Clemson’s program seemed to be slipping, and coach Dabo Swinney responded by making one of the biggest hires in the offseason,” Schlabach writes. “New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, who helped lead TCU to the CFP national championship game in 2022, was lured away to get the most out of quarterback Cade Klubnik. Because of injuries at receiver and the offensive line, Clemson fans didn’t get a full look at Riley’s version of the Air Raid offense this spring.

“Clemson’s defense is going to be dominant. Freshman defensive tackle Peter Woods made a big impression this spring and will play on a very talented line. Swinney referred to him as a ‘Halley’s Comet’ because of his skills and mental traits.”

The Tigers beat Florida State, 34-28, in Tallahassee last season after grabbing a commanding 34-14 lead midway through the third quarter. The Seminoles scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including one with 2:17 to play, to make things look tight. However, Clemson recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

It was the last game the Seminoles lost. They closed the year with six straight wins. They return eight starters on defense and eight on offense.

“Florida State believes quarterback Jordan Travis is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, and coach Mike Norvell added a couple of key pieces to give him more options this season,” Schlabach wrote. “Jaheim Bell (South Carolina transfer) and Kyle Morlock are big upgrades at tight end. Receiver Kentron Poitier seems ready to break out and freshman Vandrevius Jacobs is another budding star on the perimeter.

“Braden Fiske, a Western Michigan transfer, and edge rusher Patrick Payton performed well in the spring, which would be big for a defensive line that already includes star pass-rusher Jared Verse.”

Schlabach’s Top 10

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. Florida State
  4. USC
  5. Ohio State
  6. Alabama
  7. LSU
  8. Penn State
  9. Clemson
  10. Texas

–photo by Kevin Vandervort / All Clemson Tigers

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