If Ohio State wanted bulletin board material for the College Football Playoff semifinal, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney provided it.
Swinney’s vote in the weekly USA Today Coaches Poll showed that he didn’t believe the Buckeyes (6-0) are a top-10 team. Swinney’s Tigers take on OSU on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl for the right to play in the national championship game, and he apparently believes Ohio State to be the 11th-best team in the country.
Here’s how Swinney ordered his top 12 in the poll released Sunday:
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Iowa State
- Coastal Carolina
- Ohio State
- North Carolina
Swinney has been outspoken throughout the 2020 season about how teams playing fewer games should be viewed. Ohio State played a shortened season because of a late Big Ten start and multiple game cancellations, meaning the Buckeyes played six games compared with double-digit games for every team Swinney ranked ahead of them.
“It’s almost like you’ve got to have 120 hours to get a business degree and yet these people over here only need 60 hours to get a business degree,” Swinney said recently, according to 247Sports. “I think any time you step in between the lines, the game of football, there’s a lot that can happen — a lot. I mean, heck — in 2017, we lost to a three-win or four-win Syracuse team and still went to the playoffs. So anything can happen. Guys can get hurt. There’s a lot. So I think the fact that we’re going to have 11 games as well as the SEC teams — I mean, you look at Florida and Texas A&M and Alabama. I mean, these teams are going to have 11 games this year.”
Swinney also has no doubt that Ohio State is a good team, though. He expressed that sentiment on the CFP selection show on ESPN Sunday while bringing up Clemson’s win over the Buckeyes on last year’s semifinal stage.
“We all know Ohio State is an incredibly talented team,” Swinney told ESPN’s Rece Davis. “We look forward to a great matchup. We had a heck of a game with them last year and I doubt it’ll be anything different this year. It’s going to be a great, competitive game. Both teams fighting, probably going to come down to a few plays and we’ll be looking forward to it in New Orleans.”
Someone up in Columbus is probably printing out Swinney’s coaches poll voting at this very moment, if they haven’t already. There’s nothing like an apparent slight to serve as motivation.