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Clemson's destruction of Miami was amazing, but the Tigers were already elite

The worst loss in the history of the Hurricanes was just the best piece of evidence yet that Clemson's a title contender.

Entering Saturday, Clemson held the No. 1 spot in S&P+, the advanced formula developed by SB Nation's Bill Connelly, for the second straight week.

Then the Tigers went out and handed Miami its worst loss ever, a 58-0 beatdown so one-sided that Clemson didn't even bother to immediately head to the locker room to make adjustments at halftime, instead staying on the field to listen to Dabo Swinney preach about sportsmanship.

And sportsmanship's all well and good, but it also obscures what seems to be Clemson's awesome truth in 2015. The Tigers, a virtual lock to hold on to No. 1 in S&P+ and now No. 3 in the AP Poll, are playing better than any other team in college football.

S&P+ only takes into account stats accrued before "garbage time," which it defines as situations when "a game is not within 28 points in the first quarter, 24 points in the second quarter, 21 points in the third quarter, or 16 points in the fourth quarter." Clemson got to garbage time with 8:59 left in the second quarter against Miami, marking the third time it has done so before halftime this year ... and then scored 30 more points, despite pulling several starters midway through the third quarter.

What else has Clemson done? It has beaten the only big-time team that it's seen, winning a slugfest against Notre Dame earlier this month. It scored 34 points on Boston College, a team that had previously given up 43 points in six games, last Saturday. And that Georgia Tech team that upset Florida State on Saturday? Clemson was a point from putting the Yellow Jackets in the trash in the second quarter.

The only unimpressive win on Clemson's resume this fall is a 20-17 Thursday night squeaker at Louisville, one of the nation's more inscrutable teams, and Connelly's postmortem of that game includes the phrase "Clemson should've won by more."

There are no more truly terrifying games on the Tigers' slate, either, now that Florida State isn't a behemoth. FSU has lorded over the ACC of late, but that spell seems to be broken, and the Seminoles clearly aren't as good as they were in 2014, much less 2013, without Jameis Winston at quarterback.

Plus, that game's in Death Valley, where Clemson no-showed its 2013 showdown with the 'Noles so horrifically that Winston later claimed ownership of the stadium. You think Dabo might have his players fired up for that one?

The other four games feature just one team that entered the weekend in the top 40 of S&P+, No. 39 NC State. And while the Wolfpack will surely rise after putting 28 on Wake Forest in the first quarter and then settling for a more ho-hum 35-17 final, Clemson has beaten NC State by double digits in each of the last three years.

Add in a potential ACC Championship matchup with Pittsburgh, and the Tigers have six games left in which S&P+ should give them at least a 75 percent chance of victory, and will project them to win by double digits. (A title game against Duke would project a bit closer.) After stats update for Week 9, those figures might be more like 80 percent, and the formula might forecast two-touchdown wins in all those contests.

Clemson is playing inspired football, and it should be a heavy favorite in each game from now until the College Football Playoff. And this is after losing first-rounders Vic Beasley and Stephone Anthony off its fearsome 2014 defense to the 2015 NFL Draft, and without genius offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who left for SMU late last fall.

No wonder Dabo gets worked up about the negative connotation of Clemsoning. This fall, the definition of the word has shifted toward "laying waste to everything."


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