The Clemson Tigers have aspirations of winning a national championship every season. Last season, the Tigers tried to defend their title but fell a little short of winning back-to-back titles. Despite an October loss to Syracuse, the Tigers had little trouble winning their third consecutive ACC title. However, they couldn’t quite hang with Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
Alas, few coaches are better at reloading than Dabo Swinney. Clemson has recruited so well in recent years that they can almost always find a player to plug into a spot vacated by a future NFL player. That means the Tigers will once again have their sights set on a national championship in 2018.
The Tigers are one of the leading favorites to win this year’s title. Oddsmakers list them at +525 to win it all. Only Alabama has better odds. Clemson also has a projected win total of 11, which is tied with Alabama for the highest in the country heading into the season. In short, the oddsmakers don’t believe Clemson will have much trouble winning the ACC for a fourth straight year and returning to the CFP.
It’s not hard to see why the powers that be think that. Quarterback Kelly Bryant took the reigns from Deshaun Watson last year and was nearly as good. Heading into 2018, there are some questions about Clemson’s lack of experience. However, between Bryant’s ability to run and the backfield duo of Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne, the Tigers shouldn’t have a problem moving the ball and creating explosive plays.
Defensively, the Tigers have a chance to be one of the best teams in the country. The Tigers have three defensive linemen who could have been NFL draft picks. But all three decided to return to school, giving Clemson a defensive line that’s as deep and talented in the country. That group should become a dominant force that should help to ensure at least 11 wins and a return to the ACC Championship Game.
|Sep 1||Furman Paladins||12:20 PM|
|Sep 8||@ Texas A&M Aggies||7:00 PM|
|Sep 15||Georgia Southern Eagles||3:30 PM|
|Sep 22||@ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||12:00 PM|
|Sep 29||Syracuse Orange||12:00 PM|
|Oct 6||@ Wake Forest Demon Deacons||12:00 PM|
|Oct 20||North Carolina State Wolfpack||12:00 PM|
|Oct 27||@ Florida State Seminoles||12:00 PM|
|Nov 3||Louisville Cardinals||12:00 PM|
|Nov 10||@ Boston College Eagles||12:00 PM|
|Nov 17||Duke Blue Devils||12:00 PM|
|Nov 24||South Carolina Gamecocks||12:00 PM|
Clemson won’t play a team in the regular season that can match up with their talent, but their schedule is tricky nonetheless. An early season road trip to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M could provide an interesting challenge. The Tigers also face road tests against Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Florida State, and Boston College. The Seminoles and Eagles, in particular, have the goods to upset the Tigers. Remember, Clemson stumbled against Pitt in 2016 and Syracuse last year, so they can be prone to upsets.
However, the Tigers should be able to absorb one loss and still come out on top in the ACC Atlantic Division. Even with Virginia Tech and Miami lurking as possible opponents in the ACC title game, it would take something dramatic and unexpected for the Tigers not to four-peat as ACC champs and return to the College Football Playoff. If we end up with Clemson and Alabama in the national championship game for the third time in four years, it wouldn’t that shocking.