CFB analysts adjust Clemson Playoff picks at midseason

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CFB analysts adjust Clemson Playoff picks at midseason

The 2018-19 season's midpoint offers some extra insight than the abundance of preseason predictions. Both CBS and Sports Illustrated adjusted those predictions this week.

Preseason, Dabo Swinney's Tigers were the majority pick by CBS Sports as the national champion. All six panelists are projecting Clemson to a fourth-straight Playoff, with the consensus being a 3-seed matchup with 2-seed Ohio State. The Crimson Tide, however, have all but one of the national-title predictions with Ohio State holding the other pick.

"Don't overthink this. There are about a handful of teams that appear to have the personnel to hang with Alabama in a College Football Playoff scenario -- even a few that have the kind of quarterback you need to take down a Nick Saban-led defense," CBS Sports college football writer Chip Patterson writes. "But even the teams in that group will need to exhibit a high level of consistency and execution that hasn't been shown to this point in the season. Ohio State's defense could take big steps forward between now and the end of the season and Trevor Lawrence could certainly improve to give Clemson that downfield passing attack that wasn't a threat the last time the Tigers played Alabama.

"There's a temptation to doubt the Tide's supremacy or likelihood of winning it all based on the 'but they haven't been tested' argument, but resist that temptation and accept the inevitability that has defined the Nick Saban dynasty at Alabama."

The SI renewed predictions all project a second-straight Tide title with that coming versus Clemson in four of the seven picks - lead writer Andy Staples projecting a Clemson-Alabama Orange Bowl semifinal as well. CFP-opponent and site predictions vary beyond that, ranging from Ohio State to Oregon to Notre Dame in Miami or Dallas.

"The Crimson Tide and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa look even better than I anticipated in August," SI's Ross Dellenger writes, "so I’m sticking with my champion selection. Instead of Clemson winning a semifinal duel with Ohio State, as we picked in the preseason, our midseason pick reflects the Buckeyes’ first six weeks.

"It feels like Alabama is two cuts above the rest and Ohio State is a cut above the rest, but all that can change. The Tide must travel to LSU and win a potential SEC title game. Ohio State, meanwhile, hosts Michigan to end the regular season and then would have to get past a rock fight against Northwestern, Wisconsin or Iowa to win the Big Ten title."

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