Clemson Tigers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Two straight National Championship Game appearances. A surprising and impressive win against Alabama last year. You sure can't complain about how the last two years have gone in Clemson. Now the question remains whether this is a team which, like other top programs, can show they are bigger than a player or a class of players. Can they remain truly elite as things change? Or will they have to wait for the next profound talent (two, really) to come along and lead the way?
2016 in a Nutshell
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Deshaun Watson had one last chance to make a statement last year, and he certainly did. He led the team all the way to the promised land, often putting them on his back to get there. For his efforts he was drafted 12th overall, and favorite target Mike Williams went five spots sooner. The team was on a roll early, winning nine straight, including wins over key rivals Florida State and Louisville. But then they had a truly mystifying loss at home to Pitt. It was only a one-point loss - 43-42 - but Pitt had no business being within 20 points. That is the kind of loss that can really derail a season, but this team was too mentally tough for that, and they bounced back to win their last two regular-season games. Then they beat Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, though the 42-35 game was closer than it should have been. Then things got surprising. In the national semifinal game they seemed to be in tough against Ohio State, but the Buckeyes never showed up, and Clemson rolled to a 31-0 win that wasn't as close as the score. And then came the tight and exciting win over Alabama to wear the crown.
Key Additions and Departures
Watson and Williams are both gone, and that is a giant hole in the offense. They have some nice options at QB, but Watson's are some massive shoes to fill, and it is hard to be entirely optimistic. Watson was more than a good player - he was this team. Those two aren't the only big departures, either. Ben Boulware was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year - even though he went undrafted. They lost other key players like Cordrea Tankersley and Wayne Gallman. They have plenty of talent, but they will have to prove they can handle this transition. It is one that has set other teams in similar situations back - like Florida State when Jameis Winston left and they had two tough seasons at QB, for example.
The incoming freshman class is tougher than some to evaluate because it featured only 14 players. The quality was there, but the lack of size limits the short-term impact that is possible immensely.
Clemson Tigers Schedule Analysis
Things set up reasonably well for a team breaking in a new QB. They open against an outmatched Kent State team and then play an Auburn squad that still isn't as dynamic as they should be. Those are two solid-but-manageable tests. But then they travel to Louisville in what could be a very tough game. A road trip at Virginia Tech could be a challenge, too. At home the only remaining big test is the same as always - against Florida State in a game that will likely determine the winner of the division and therefore probably the conference.
All in all it is far from the toughest or most interesting schedule. That is both a gift and a curse. On one hand, they will be able to mount up some wins with relatively little stress despite the transition. One the other hand, if they are in a pack of teams vying for playoff spots then they won't likely have the signature wins aside from Florida State that other teams will.
2017-18 Clemson Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has the Tigers at +2800 to win the national title, which has them behind eight other teams and in a whole different stratosphere than the Alabama squad they beat last year, which is heavily favored at +250. They are the second choice to win the ACC at +350 but again far behind the favorite - Florida State is at -110. While oddsmakers don't love them overall, they aren't worried about the opening game - Clemson is favored by a ridiculous 38.5 points in the opener against Kent. They don't have a player among the 25 players listed in Heisman favorites - no surprise given that they are replacing the core of their offense.
The team covered the spread in both playoff games, but that wasn't representative of the season overall. They were just 6-6 ATS during the season and failed to cover the ACC title game spread. They were only 2-5 ATS in their last five before the playoff, so the fact that they were underdogs in both games isn't that surprising.
2017-18 Clemson Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
It's hard to know what to expect from this team until we see the new offense in action. It seems likely, though, that there will be some growing pains. I expect a loss to Florida State and at least one other one along the way. This won't be a disastrous year by any means, but it's going to be one in which the team steps back and catches their breath after two great seasons. Ten wins would be a nice accomplishment.
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