Alabama is atop the crowd, with future ACC-member Louisville at 7th, South Carolina at 8th, Georgia right behind the Tigers in 11th and Florida State back at 16th (the only other ACC team in the top-25).
Talking Clemson, SI writer Andy Staples said: “Coordinator Brent Venables had the defense playing better at season's end. If that improvement continues through the offseason, the Tigers will deserve this ranking.”
On the Tigers’ opening opponent Georgia: “The Bulldogs should be fantastic on offense…The questions are all on defense, where Georgia will replace its entire secondary and most of its linebackers.”
On why USC could be ranked lower: “The offensive line will be experienced, but it must get better this offseason to keep Shaw and Thompson healthy enough to last through the SEC schedule.”
And FSU’s lower ranking: “I'm not going to go overboard on Florida State until the Seminoles prove they can avoid the random ACC road losses that have derailed their hopes of late.”
Clemson played 5 top-20 defenses in 2012
We’ve checked in with Seldom Used Reserve (SUR) several times this season for offensive stats, but Marty Coleman tallied up final defensive efficiency numbers as well.
The Tigers were average overall (63rd), above average in defensive rating (100.43) and below in yards per play given up (5.65).
Clemson’s No. 9 offense (by his rankings) faced five top-20 defenses in (2) Florida State, (8) LSU, (11) South Carolina, (18) Virginia Tech and (20) Maryland.
…and special teams
Clemson was one of three ACC teams in Football Outsiders’ top-30 special teams units, joined by Miami and Duke.
FO measures team’s against the national averages, along with their own metrics, on field goals, kicks and kick coverage, where the Tigers ranked 26th.
Chandler Catanzaro carried the ranking at No. 8 in field goal efficiency, and the punting corps was also top-25 (22).
They were average in kick and punt returns (64/61 respectively) and below average in kick coverage (76).
Turnover tipping point
One turnover? You’re okay. Two? Not so much. Three? Better get those talking points ready for the press conference.
Per SUR, teams with one turnover won 59.3 percent of the time – with two, 47.3 percent and three, 32 percent.
Teams had zero-to-two turnovers 74.2 percent of time in the research – the most with one (403) followed by two (357).
If you’re lucky enough to not turn it over, there's an almost 74 percent win rate.