- “Prog Avg” is the program’s average ranking in the WRC between 2006 and 2019.
- “18 AP” is the final AP poll ranking from this past year.
- “2019 WRC” in where each team ranks nationally.
- “2018 diff” is how many spots each team moved up or down nationally.
Clemson remains 3rd behind Florida State and Notre Dame. This has not been a concern for The Tigers on the field as the staff has been able to recruit talent that fits their system and develop that talent better than ND, and far better than FSU. The end result is 4-straight wins over FSU (should be 5, really), 2 over ND, and blowout wins against both last year. Throughout our run, FSU has had the more talented team to work with, but the last time that they were clearly the better team on the field was the infamous 2013 game in Death Valley. Because of all that talent, FSU remains dangerous even if they are frozen in sleeping giant mode for now. ND is schematically better than they have been in previous years, and therefore, looks like a program that is not going to slip back into mediocrity this time.
The only change in the talent pecking order for the ACC is at the very bottom with Wake moving ahead of BC. The rest of the order remained the same from 2018.
You can see in the 4th column at the bottom that the conference as a whole lost 10 spots in the WRC collectively this year. That was after gaining 20 last year. The average ranking, located in the 3rd column at the bottom, went down by 0.7 this year. Still, the conference is stronger from a talent perspective than it was in the previous decade except for when it peaked last year.
Let’s look at Clemson’s 2019 Schedule from an opposition talent perspective.
The average ranking of last year’s schedule was 37.1, which was the most difficult schedule from a talent standpoint since at least 2006. This year’s average ranking is 37.9, which isn’t that far off. The “Score” in the far right column is perhaps a better indicator though, and it shows that Clemson will face a more difficult schedule this year. After removing Clemson from the equation, it’s at 76.8 this year compared to 80.0 last year.
Of course, Clemson moved up this year and will be bringing their most talented team since 2006 to the table. The lower rated 2014 class came off the books and was replaced by another top 10 class. I said last year that I expect Clemson to secure a spot in the top 10 of the WRC for the foreseeable future. While it didn’t happen this year, it seems inevitable within the next two years at the most.
We add UNC to the schedule this year, and as you can see, they have access to a higher level of talent than Duke. However, they have not consistently performed at the level of their talent, whereas Duke consistently overachieves. Exit Larry Fedora and enter Mack Brown. Clemson travels to UNC for a late September game and a win for UNC would be absolutely monumental for their program from a recruiting standpoint.
In our own state, Clemson will be going for their 6th win in a row against the Gamecocks. This is a big year for Muschamp. The honeymooon usually wears off about year 3 of a new coach’s tenure. Programs become who they really are and are not looked at by recruits as being upwardly mobile unless they are overachieving. So credit is due to Will Muschamp and staff for bringing in his best class to date (17/17). With the honeymoon coming to a close, dropping a 5th straight game to us, and getting mudstomped by Virginia (VIRGINIA!) in their bowl game, that is pretty impressive.