Clemson Served Righteous Justice With Drop in AP Poll

Clemson v North Carolina
Clemson v North Carolina / Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Clemson may have won its game Saturday against Mack Brown's North Carolina Tar Heels - barely - but it lost something tangible this weekend. The Tigers lost the No. 1 ranking in the AP college football poll, as Alabama - the team they steamrolled in last year's national championship game - leapfrogged them for the top spot.

And it's about time the pollsters recognized the truth, because truthfully, Clemson hasn't played like a No. 1 team. Or, arguably, even a No. 2.

Neither Alabama nor Clemson has had the most daunting schedule in the world to start the year. The difference is that while Alabama has made short work of all of its opponents without exception - its closest call being a mere 24-point win over a decent, but underperforming South Carolina team on the road - Clemson seems to be getting weaker with each game.

By far its best effort this season came in the opener against conference rival Georgia Tech, where Travis Etienne played like a one-man show and ran for 205 yards on only 12 carries. In each game since, he's failed to crack even 100.

Meanwhile, Trevor Lawrence, whom scouts were so high on entering the season, has looked ordinary against a weak schedule. This season, he has thrown eight touchdowns against five interceptions. He was due for a sophomore slump, as it's hard to improve from a freshman season where you lead a team to a national championship almost single-handedly, but we weren't expecting one so dramatic.

Compare that with Tua Tagovailoa, who may be authoring the finest season of quarterbacking in the history of college football. This season, Tua has thrown 23 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Let me repeat that. 23. Touchdowns. Zero. Interceptions.

If the Tigers do come through and blitz through the rest of their relatively easy schedule (featuring football powerhouse Wofford!) and we end up with Alabama-Clemson Part V in the Playoff, expect Alabama to get its revenge for last year.