College Football – Clemson Tigers Odds To Make CFP 2020

Written by:
Phil Simon
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A thorough pounding of Alabama in last season’s College Football Playoff title game vaulted the Clemson Tigers to the top of the college football food chain.

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And Dabo Swinney’s juggernaut isn’t going anywhere except back for a repeat this season. The Tigers have been a fixture in the CFP the last four years and matched Bama for the most titles with their 28-point victory last January to complete a perfect 15-0 season. That was enough to silence the ACC-is-weaker-than-the-SEC rhetoric.

Going toe-to-toe with Alabama over the last four seasons, Clemson’s two national championships came with a win over the Tide. And the Tigers are 55-4 in that span. Some retooling will have to take place on defense with several top performers no longer around. But Clemson’s offense is frightening and with Trevor Lawrence running the show they’ll be a top-5 unit again in 2019.

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Clemson Tigers 2019 Season Preview

It’s college football and players looking for a payday tend to chase the cash when the time comes. A number of stars stuck around last year for a chance to win a national championship and with a checkmark next to that box the exodus began. What was the best defensive line in the game needs to be replaced – all of them – and there are some holes on the second level. But this is Clemson, a machine that churns out top talent seemingly every year. This season should be no different.

The line will be fine and the situation at linebacker will get resolved because there are too many talented players to pick from. The Tigers topped the country in fewest points allowed with just over 13 per game, and they were sixth in total defense in 2018. Even if there is some regression, opponents won’t do enough to keep up with Lawrence and the explosive offense.

With Lawrence, Travis Etienne and a slew of players from an offense that amassed over 527 yards and 44.3 points per game returning, there won’t be a dropoff in production. The key, of course, is Lawrence. Inserting him as the starter in Week 4 last year was a pivotal move for the program. Lawrence threw for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four picks. And he was brilliant in the playoffs with a combined 674 passing yards and six touchdowns in wins over Notre Dame and Alabama.

There is plenty of talent to go around on offense. Is it possible for a guy to rush for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns and not be the headliner? It is at Clemson. Etienne was a beast putting up those numbers while averaging 8.1 yards per carry. The entire group of pass catchers has height, speed, and hands. And the offensive line returns three starters from a group that allowed 17 sacks and the third-fewest tackles for loss in the country. Frightening indeed.

2019 Clemson Tigers Schedule

Week 1: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Week 2: Texas A&M Aggies

Week 3: at Syracuse Orange

Week 4: Charlotte 49ers

Week 5: at North Carolina Tar Heels

Week 6: OFF

Week 7: Florida State Seminoles

Week 8: at Louisville Cardinals

Week 9: Boston College Eagles

Week 10: Wofford Terriers

Week 11: at NC State Wolfpack

Week 12: Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Week 13: OFF

Week 14: at South Carolina Gamecocks

The ACC schedule shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge this season and the Tigers avoided that what-the-heck-happened loss last year. The Week 2 matchup with Texas AM is at home and the Aggies are an improved squad from last year. That’s a crucial matchup since a loss leaves no margin for error the rest of the season.

The first road game of the season is at Syracuse, which has given Clemson fits the last two years. The Orange pulled off the upset at home in 2017 and held a late lead last year before the Tigers rallied. Clemson won its games against the Aggies and Orange last year by a combined six points. The game at NC State could be dangerous and the season-ending rivalry tilt at South Carolina could pose a problem, but likely won’t. Those who say Clemson has an easy road to the CFP are spot on with their assessment.

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