With Clemson’s defensive line back, the Tigers are looking to dominate 2018 and knock off the SEC from being the best in the land.
The Sweet Taste of Victory, The Ache of Defeat
The 2017 Clemson Tigers could have won the national championship. And so could the 2018 version. Plenty of teams have looked like they could win it all and have failed to do so. Look at Ohio State in 2015 or Alabama in 2016.
And Clemson could and should win the national championship game. Just like they could and were predicted as a favorite in 2017.
Then came Week 7 in Syracuse, New York where the Orange held on and upset the Tigers to give them their only regular season loss, 27-24. It hurt Clemson’s ranking and probably the Tigers’ pride, but didn’t ultimately keep them from the title game. Their loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl kept them from that.
See You Next Year NFL
It’s not often that you have all the key parts needed to be made the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoffs and you don’t lose a single one of them on your defensive line to the professional football league.
But somehow, that’s what happened at Clemson. The Tigers are one of the most talented teams in college football, with depth at every position, but especially the D line. If you’re drafting a fantasy defensive line for your pro team, you’re gonna wish Clemson’s d-line was available.
Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Instead, 2017 was Clemson’s third straight season with an appearance in the College Football Playoff race.
And after sitting and watching Alabama hoist the CFP trophy, Dabo Swinney’s machine in football pads knows it has unfinished business.
Plus, last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Instead, 2017 was Clemson’s third straight season with an appearance in the College Football Playoff race. They’ve made it to the semifinals, made it to the finals and won the national title (in 2016), so the only thing to do would either be to not make the finals or win it all again. We’re taking the latter.
Deshaun Watson, Who?
Ok, just kidding a bit with that header. Deshaun Watson is, after all, Clemson’s best quarterback ever. But the point we’re making is that they lost him and still didn’t fall flat on their face in 2017, so the fact that they have a battle at QB is great news for Tigers fan heading into 2018.
Sure, you might not want to hear about a two-quarterback system. Sounds like a disaster to most. But it could also sound like making the best of the best. QB Kelly Bryant has the experience and experience around him at WR, RB and OL. And while Swinney has never deployed a two-QB system, contender Trevor Lawrence is making a case of listening to his coach to just “go play well.”
What we’re saying is, Clemson has options and when you have a loss on your record last season to Syracuse and you no longer have Watson, options can give you a win and keep you from a loss. Or vice versa, but we prefer to look at the “grass is greener” side of the ball.
Goin’ To The ‘Ship
It rolls a little bit better than the “College Football Playoffs semifinals game.” But Clemson has the talent and the recruits to make 2018 the perfect 10-year celebration of Swinney at the helm. Can you remember the last time Clemson underachieved? Us either. And while there’s parody in college football, use March Madness to show you the way: while we love Cinderellas, in the end, you can’t recall the last time an underdog hosted the trophy. All that’s left for Clemson? Get past the Elephant not yet on the schedule. (Psst. That means beating ‘Bama in the playoffs.)
Week 1: Sept. 1 vs. Furman Paladins
An FCS program that made it to the second round of the FCS playoffs last season. But we’re talking about facing one of the best in the FBS. There’s a chance the battle for starting quarterback is played out in the season opener.
Week 2: Sept. 8 at Texas A&M Aggies
One of Clemson’s biggest tests this season comes early and it’s not only just on the road and a night game, it’s against a familiar face with former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies aren’t lacking in talent, just translating that talent into wins. Clemson is favored but if you wanna pick a Week 2 upset, you wouldn’t go wrong here, but we still think you need to give Jimbo more than two game days in Texas.
Week 3: Sept. 15 vs. Georgia Southern Eagles
The Eagles went 2-10 last season.
Week 4: Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets*
Clemson’s won the last three meetings and six of the last eight. Dao Swinney has Paul Johnson’s scheme down.
Week 5: Sept. 29 vs. Syracuse Orange*
You know how we make all these predictions but they’re based off preseason and paper? Yeah, well. Syracuse pulled the big-ol’ upset and ruined the Tigers’ chances of going undefeated in 2017. Then it went on to lose five straight to close the season. Look for Clemson playing for paybacks.
Week 6: Oct. 6 at Wake Forest Demon Deacons*
The Tigers picked up their sixth straight victory against Wake Forest last season. Can you say, repeat? Well, slow down before you do because Wake went 8-5 last season and then beat Texas A&M for a bowl win. Clemson’s defense will need to shut down Matt Colburn’s run game and new QB Kendall Hinton’s aerial game.
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Oct. 20 vs. NC State Wolfpack*
In 2016, it took an overtime. In 2017, it took a touchdown with 6:31 in the fourth remaining. But Clemson eked out both against NC State. So if you don’t pick Texas A&M, Syracuse, or Wake Forest as your upset, we understand that you were waiting for this one. Just remember, the Wolfpack is missing its entire starting defensive line.
Week 9: Oct. 27 at Florida State Seminoles*
Florida State has the talent, it’s just missing its talented leader who skipped on over to College Station in Texas. So now new coach Willie Taggart’s turn to turn this into a classic. If there’s any time, it will be this year. But Dabo also has talent and the experience of coaching it in big games.
Week 10: Nov. 3 vs. Louisville Cardinals*
No more Lamar Jackson. No more even possibility of Louisville upsetting.
Week 11: Nov. 10 at Boston College Eagles*
Shut down BC running back AJ Dillon and shut down BC.
Week 12: Nov. 17 vs. Duke Blue Devils*
Duke can’t pull off a string of wins in the ACC, so you think it’s got the talent to hang with the best in the ACC for four quarters? We don’t.
Week 13: Nov. 24 vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
If Clemson is still undefeated at this point, expect this game to go a lot like the last two years: total domination. Straight onto the ACC Championship game, Tigers.
*denotes conference game
TOTAL 2018 Predicted Wins: 12