Clemson Tigers Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
One thing stands out about this Clemson team above all else in my eyes - and after the run they have been on the last few years there is plenty to choose from. When the preseason all-ACC team was announced recently, all four defensive lineman on the squad were from Clemson. I can imagine few things more terrifying than being an opposing offensive coordinator trying to figure out how you are going to keep your quarterback alive for four quarters. But this ferocious front wasn't good enough to give Alabama a real test in the playoff semi-final last year, so the Tigers go into this season with questions to go along with sky-high expectations. They also have the easiest path to a conference title of any major contender, so concerns about motivation have to be at least a little bit on your mind when it comes to the team. But man, that defensive line.
2017 in a Nutshell
Six brilliant games and then a stunner - that was the pattern the team followed last year. They opened with six lopsided wins, with three against ranked teams in Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech. And then, in perhaps the least explainable result of the entire season, they lost at Syracuse. They had a bye week to figure out what in the world happened, and they came back strong. They won another six in a row, with ranked NC State being the only game that was even close. A massacre of high-flying Miami in the ACC Championship Game was most impressive of all. It all meant that they were the top-ranked team in the playoff. But the team couldn't win seven in a row last year, so their limp loss to Alabama in the semi was probably fated. It was a bitter and disappointing end to what had been a very strong season as defending champions.
Key Additions and Departures
For a team as strong as they have been, the losses were remarkably limited. They had only three players drafted, and the first was just the 100th player taken, so most of their depth has stuck around.
The quarterback position is interesting, as Kelly Bryant was excellent last year, but many people are still calling for Trevor Lawrence, last year's top overall recruit, to get a shot. Their third stringer is a five-star recruit, too, so the depth is ridiculous. Travis Etienne was strong at running back and should get more opportunities this year. Two of the selected players in the draft were receivers, but there is no reason for real concern. They have as much depth here as most everywhere, and new recruit Derion Kendrick is generating major buzz. They have a four-year starter at left tackle, and a decorated center, but face changes in the other three line positions. Stop me if you have heard this before, though, but the depth is excellent and they will be fine.
When Dexter Lawrence is arguably your fourth best defensive lineman then your defensive line is far from a concern. This is just ridiculous - and they added two five-star recruits on the line this spring like they needed the help. Linebacker Dorian O'Daniel, the team's leading tackler, is gone, but again depth - yada yada yada. The secondary is probably the weakest position group on the team right now. Two or three true freshmen are likely to see playing time and, if you can imagine, they aren't even five-star recruits. It's a good time to break in a secondary, though - quarterbacks have to be upright to throw passes, and against this defensive line that isn't likely to happen too often.
Biggest Area of Concern
It's hard to have too many - at least in the regular season. Complacency, I guess. The secondary, maybe. Or maybe a quarterback controversy could be a distraction. I'm grasping at straws here.
Clemson Tigers Schedule Analysis
Anything can happen - this is a team that lost to Syracuse - but man is it tough to find a loss on this schedule. Furman and Georgia Southern are embarrassing nonconference opponents. And while Texas A&M is a tough place to play, the team is facing too many changes to be a real threat in only Week 2. The final nonconference game is the rivalry game against South Carolina to close the season, and it's hard to see that as a real challenge. Their conference games are at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Boston College and a Florida State team that is facing a massive overhaul - and still represent the toughest game the Tigers play. And they get Syracuse, NC State, Louisville and Duke at home. NC State and Louisville will likely be decent but not nearly of the same caliber. This is quite simply as soft of a schedule as a major contender could ever hope for. The risk, of course, is that there is no loss here that would be even remotely acceptable, and two would be just disastrous.
2018-19 Clemson Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
Clemson is the second choice to win the national title at +550, behind only defending champs Alabama at +180. They are very heavy -375 favorites to win the ACC Coastal and -190 favorites to win the conference. Trevor Lawrence is at a fast rising +1600 to win the Heisman, with Kelly Bryant at +3300 and Travis Etienne at +5000. The season win total is set at a very high 11, and the "over" is still favored.
2018-19 Clemson Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
It is very rare that I say this, but I would truly be shocked if Clemson is not undefeated after the regular season. The ACC Championship Game should be a little tougher, but not by much. They should be the top seed in the playoff - which did nothing to help them last year. The biggest threat comes from within - after three straight playoff appearances, it would be very easy for a team to get complacent against this joke of a schedule. If Dabo Swinney can keep them focused and hungry, though, the sky is the limit. They should be playing a 13-game preseason to get ready for what they hope will be a two-game season.
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