Wofford Clemson Football

Clemson's Jake Venables (15) reacts after making a defensive play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wofford, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

CLEMSON – Despite pummeling nearly every team on its 2019 schedule, the unbeaten Clemson Tigers would be on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to start right now.

Ohio St, LSU, Alabama, Penn St are top 4 in 1st CFP rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee on Tuesday night announced that Clemson, which sits at 9-0 after a 59-14 win Saturday against Wofford, was ranked No. 5 just behind Penn State at No. 4. Clemson was previously ranked No. 4 in the AP poll. The top three, according to the committee, are Ohio State, LSU and Alabama.

Rob Mullens, selection committee chairman, said during a press teleconference that Penn State’s strength of schedule, which included wins against Michigan and Iowa, was the difference in putting the Nittany Lions in the top four ahead of Clemson.

Mullens didn't however say it had anything to do with the fact that Penn State plays at Ohio State on November 23, and that marketing the game to have one knock the other out of the top four spots is expected.

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“We had a lengthy discussion about Penn State and Clemson, two really, really good teams, both strong defensively,” Mullens said. “In the end, what it came down to — and again, much debate — Penn State has marquee wins against 14th-ranked Michigan and a road win at 18th-ranked Iowa. In addition, they have a non-conference win over Pitt, which is a pretty good win at this point.”

Mullens said the Tigers’ 21-20 win against North Carolina played a part in Clemson’s No. 5 playoff ranking this week.

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“The close win over North Carolina is a factor because we're looking at the entire resume, and what we see with Clemson is an impressive team, an offense that's improved in the last few weeks, outstanding quarterback, outstanding running back,” Mullens said.

Mullens said Alabama was ranked No. 3 in the ranking because of the Crimson’s Tide's “overall performances and quality play on both sides of the ball.”

Mullens was asked to what extent the committee used an “eye test” to evaluate Alabama’s ranking.

“Obviously, we watch all the games and see the data, and what you see when you watch Alabama is obviously outstanding playmakers,” Mullens said. “They've been dominant against their schedule, and while it may not be as strong as some others, when you watch the games, they certainly have been dominant.”

Mullens was also asked how the committee justifies ranking Alabama above Penn State based on strength of schedule.

“I think at the end of the day, when the committee watched Alabama, what they saw is a team that's being dominant against that schedule, and that was the difference between Alabama and Penn State,” Mullens said.

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