Clemson Tigers Football: 4 Realistic Postseason Scenarios for Tigers
Losing to Florida State on September 22 almost certainly ruined Clemson's chances at a National Championship.
But this doesn't eliminate the Tigers' chances of making a BCS bowl game for a second consecutive year.
Florida State was upset by N.C. State, putting the Tigers right back in the thick of things in the ACC's Atlantic Division. Maryland sits atop that division at 2-0, but FSU, Clemson and N.C. State are the class of that division.
The Tigers must win out and need FSU to lose again to defend their division crown, while N.C. State controls its own destiny and has the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Seminoles.
Here is a look at some realistic postseason scenarios for the Tigers this season.
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech: ACC Championship Game
In this scenario, the Tigers run the table in the remainder of their ACC schedule and Florida State trips up with another loss.
The Seminoles tend to underperform in big games against inferior opponents, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them lose again.
Virginia Tech is struggling this year, but head coach Frank Beamer is capable of righting the ship and getting the Hokies to the top of a mediocre division.
Three of Clemson's final five conference games are at home, and the only road contests are against Wake Forest and Duke.
The Tigers have put up 92 points in two weeks since falling to Florida State, and are coming off a bye week. They will be fresh and ready to make it to Charlotte and reach their third ACC Championship Game in four years.
Clemson vs. Louisville: Discover Orange Bowl
Assuming Clemson reaches and wins the ACC Championship Game, they will most likely take on the winner of the Big East, just as they did last year.
Fortunately for the Tigers, West Virginia has left the Big East and they will not have to contend with Heisman candidate Geno Smith and his fellow Mountaineers (WVU was unstoppable in a 70-33 win over Clemson in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl).
You can bet the Tigers will want people to forget the embarrassment from last season.
Clemson will take on Louisville on New Year's Day. The Cardinals are unbeaten and may be able to run the table if they can beat Cincinnati at home and take down currently unbeaten Rutgers in a huge showdown to end the season.
New defensive coordinator Brent Venables will come up with a game plan to stop Louisville and get Clemson the Orange Bowl win that evaded them in 2012.
Clemson vs. Georgia: Chick-Fil-a Bowl
The Tigers can win out and still be shut out of the ACC Championship Game by either FSU or N.C. State.
In this scenario, Clemson either drops another game or wins out, but either the Seminoles or Wolfpack win out and prevent the Tigers from reaching Charlotte. In this case, the Tigers' are not selected as a BCS at-large team and will face off in a bowl game against a strong SEC opponent like Georgia.
The Georgia Bulldogs were throttled 35-7 by South Carolina and still have to play Florida. If they lose that or any other game, it would likely eliminate them from contention in the SEC and would make it tough to get a BCS at-large selection.
This matchup would pit two great quarterbacks in Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray against each other.
If the Tigers emerge victorious, it would show that the ACC and other conferences are not too far behind the SEC.
Clemson vs. Notre Dame: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
While this may be a long shot, it is not impossible.
In this scenario, the Tigers win out but do not reach the ACC Championship Game. Meanwhile, several teams ahead of them in the BCS standings slip up.
In ESPN.com's current bowl projections, Kansas State and Notre Dame are expected to meet in the Fiesta Bowl.
Kansas State plays four ranked teams in its final six games and could easily lose two or more of those contests. Notre Dame still has the likes of BYU, Oklahoma and USC waiting for them.
Other undefeated teams ahead of Clemson in the standings such as Oregon State and Mississippi State will have to prove their legitimacy with very tough schedules down the stretch.
The Fighting Irish will beat BYU and either Oklahoma or USC, and that will be good enough to get into this game.
It is realistic to think the chips could fall into place for the Tigers to play in another high-profile game.