Why It’s Too Easy For Clemson

Here we are, three weeks into the 12th season of the Dabo Swinney regime, and the reigning champion Clemson Tigers sit at 3-0, and are the undisputed No. 1 team in the country. Since the start of the 2015 season the Tigers are 58-4, and have advanced to three CFP finals, winning two national titles. While Nick Saban's Alabama squad is as dangerous and dominant as ever, the Clemson program has added themselves to the list of college football's greatest dynasties, and show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

No signs of slowing down not only due to the recruiting juggernaut that results from multiple national championships, but because they play in a conference that has not produced a single legitimate challenger to their reign.

The ACC is bad. There, I said it.

Historically, blue-blood programs like Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech have all thrown their weight around in the ACC, part of the reason Clemson had only won one conference title (2011) under Swinney prior to the start of their current run.

Now, however, the once indomitable programs in Tallahassee and Miami are full of holes. The former otherworldly 'Canes are 35-20 since the start of 2015, losing three out of four bowl appearances. The once vaunted Florida State Seminoles, a perennial powerhouse for the better part of 20 years, are just 33-21 since the start of 2015. And the Virginia Tech Hokies, a team that won 10 or more games in eight consecutive seasons from 2004-2011, has reached double digit wins just once in the seven years since.

So that has left the Tigers alone and without any real competition along the Atlantic coast, and while it was initially somewhat novel, Clemson's cake walk through the ACC has taken a turn towards an unfair advantage.

What other major national power is almost completely unchallenged in their home conference?

Alabama has had Georgia nearly toe-to-toe with them as a top-five power for the past two seasons, along with a host of other formidable opponents in the SEC. Oklahoma has won four straight conference titles but has had to deal with in-state rival Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia, and the Texas Longhorns. Ohio State has to contend with Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin.

Even in the Pac-12, typically considered the also-ran of the Power-5 conferences, the league that's most frequently left out of the College Football Playoff, there are multiple national contenders among their ranks. In the most recent AP Poll following week three, there are six Pac-12 teams among the top 25, while Clemson and Virginia are the only representatives from the ACC.

Looking ahead at Clemson's schedule, following a scrimmage against the University of Charlotte, they are basically heading into "the teeth" of their schedule with consecutive contests against North Carolina, Florida State, and Louisville. The Tigers will be on the road at UNC and Louisville, but does anyone believe the Tar Heels or Cardinals have any legitimate chance of derailing Lawrence & Co.?

No. No one thinks anyone has any chance of beating Clemson ever, unless you're the University of Alabama.

Boston College? Clemson has beaten them by 20 or more in each of the past three seasons. NC State? They had hung with the Tigers in three previous seasons prior to last year, when they were blown out, 41-7. Wake Forest is currently 3-0, but really, Wake Forest?

How about the Wofford Terriers in week nine in Death Valley? Think they'll keep it within 60 points?

Let's not forget the final week of the regular season, when Clemson will head to Columbia to face perennially overrated South Carolina, a team that loses at least five games every season yet is somehow always talked about as a threat. Road game against the SEC be damned, I don't give the Gamecocks a snowball's chance.

Barring major injuries to key pieces, there doesn't appear to be any real threats to Clemson's current 18-game unbeaten streak. There isn't much anyone can do about it, and we can basically fast forward to the CFP semifinals in January in hopes of some juicy matchups.

In "hopes" of juicy matchups. Last season, Clemson blew the doors off of two teams that were supposed to represent their highest level of competition. But maybe this year will be different.

Maybe it will be different, or maybe it will be exactly the same, with Swinney and Saban facing off in their annual matchup to determine the best team in the land.

Ho hum. At least we can argue about who's No. 5.

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