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Nix or Finley?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Have you seen the latest AP poll? Go look it up, I’ll give you a second. Take all the time you need. You’ll find Clemson ranked #25.

Is Clemson really the 25th best team in the country? They lost to a really good Georgia team and to an NC State team who, well, managed to get beat by Mississippi a couple touchdowns, actually. oof. That doesn’t make Clemson bad by any means. But ranked? They’re 2-2! .500! There are plenty of teams nationally that have better records. Shoot, there are unranked and undefeated teams out there that still don’t have a little number next to their name. Undefeated Maryland is still unranked, and they’re a Big Ten team! (Note, Maryland plays Friday night, on the date this is written, so this may age poorly. Nevertheless!)

Let’s face it, the only reason Clemson is still ranked right now is because their name is Clemson. They’re a sexy helmet. They were preseason #3, for goodness sake. They made the College Football playoff last season - that has to count for something, right? Should we consider #25 Clemson (2-2) better than unranked Maryland (4-0) just because Maryland didn’t make the College Football Playoff last season? That’s not really for me to say. I’m not an AP Voter. AP Voters didn’t have a clear idea on how to rank Clemson compared to Maryland, either. Eyeballing the ballots, I’d guess about half voted Maryland above Clemson in some form, and vice versa.

Have you ever tried to rank 25 teams? You should try it. Sunday morning, before 10 a.m. Fire up your notes app, or get out a pen and paper. It’s really tough! I’ve tried it a couple of times. After about #15, you could make the case for almost 20+ teams in any possible order to fill #16 through #25. But the AP has a panel of 61 voters that do that every week. They are much more qualified than myself.

What the heck is this doing on College and Magnolia, anyway?

Bryan Harsin has a decision to make. Maybe he’s already made it. Maybe he made it last week, with less than a minute remaining in the Georgia State game, as TJ Finley threw a touchdown pass to Shed Jackson after escaping pressure.

Bo Nix has been Auburn’s starting quarterback for 28 straight games. His last name is Nix. The job was his in 2019. And 2020. That likely had a major role in determining who would start in 2021. Nix had taken first team reps for, literally, years. He’s a household name that’s beaten every school in the SEC West.

Finley is the newcomer, the fresh face. Finley had no preseason expectations or memes, no big flashy NIL deals, no speeches at media days.

I look at Finley as a Maryland. Their body of work this season, so far, is probably better than Nix/Clemson. But Clemson was the preseason favorite. Nix is the guy we all tweeted about all summer.

Let me ask you something, would you take undefeated Maryland over 2-2 Clemson right now? Yes, SP+ still says Clemson would be a touchdown favorite over Maryland on a neutral field, but that’s still pretty dependent on preseason numbers.

We’re talking about one game. 60 minutes of football. It doesn’t matter which helmet is flashier, which program is more well known, or anything. One game. Maryland or Clemson, tomorrow?

So let me ask you, would you take Finley over Nix for one game?