2019 Clemson Tigers Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
The Tigers won their second national title since 2016, and it was probably more impressive than the first time. Trevor Lawrence was an incredibly highly-touted recruit, but his play in the postseason has ratcheted those expectations up to a dramatically higher level. He's two years away from being draft eligible, and many people have already written his name on the 2022 Pro Bowl roster in pen. Now he's back for more and at the helm of a truly loaded offense that will terrify opponents. The defense has likely taken a significant step back, but how good does it really need to be when it's in the ACC and the offense is able to score like this one will be able to?
2018 in a Nutshell
Things don't go much better than that. Starting a true freshman quarterback, the Tigers rolled through the regular season after an early scare from Texas A&M. Then they dominated the ACC Championship Game, which isn't much of an accomplishment when you play in a one-team conference and you are that one team. Then they found another gear - as impressive as they had been already. Their first playoff game against Notre Dame was an embarrassing mismatch, and then they made Alabama look absolutely foolish to win their second national title since 2016. Things looked pretty bleak after week 2 in College Station and pretty much perfect after that.
Key Additions and Departures
The team lost three defensive linemen in the first 17 picks of the draft last year. That would impact any team. Ironically, though, the first guy to go will be the easiest to say goodbye to. Even Clelin Ferrell's own mother had to be uncertain that the Raiders made a good move taking him fourth overall. They will be starting four new defensive linemen, and that unit surely won't be as dominant as it has been. And they have seven new defensive starters overall. They can't be too upset about what happened, though. Three of their star defensive linemen were expected to leave after the 2017 season, so last year was just a bonus - one that worked out very well for the team.
The team added a Top 10 recruiting class, though perhaps one not quite as good as you might expect given their strength in recent years. There aren't likely to be any freshmen starters at this point, and there isn't a consensus five-star among the group. Trevor Lawrence isn't in this group, in other words.
Biggest Area of Concern
The obvious answer here is the defensive depth. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons and both starting safeties are back, even though all thee would have been drafted, so that really helps. But that's pretty much it in terms of experience. They have talent, and it's not like guys haven't been on the field at all, but they have much more of a rebuilding job to do defensively than you might expect a National Championship favorite to have. They have plenty of talent to work with, and Brent Venables is as good as it gets as a defensive coordinator, so there isn't a huge reason to panic. And this schedule gives the team plenty of chances to find their game. But the defense is certainly a bigger concern than the offense.
Clemson Tigers Schedule Analysis
Like last year, the Tigers face a big test when they meet Texas A&M in the second week of the season - though this time it's a home game for Clemson. And much like last year, that really looks like the only test that this team will face in the regular season. The ACC is not a very good conference beyond the Tigers, and the other nonconference games against Charlotte, Wofford and South Carolina aren't going to be that tough. Anything can happen in college football, and the Tigers have shown that they can lose games that they really shouldn't in conference play. But if this team beats the Aggies in Week 2 - and they will be solidly favored to do so - then their fans may as well start making plans to attend the playoffs.
2019-20 Clemson Tigers Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has the Tigers tied with Alabama at +225 to win the national title, which is well ahead of the third choice, Georgia, at +700. Trevor Lawrence is the second choice to win the Heisman at +300, just behind Tua Tagovailoa at +250. Running back Travis Etienne is listed at +1400.
2019-20 Clemson Tigers Predictions and College Football Picks
Trevor Lawrence throwing the ball to Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, with Travis Etienne in the backfield, and an offensive line with four returning starters protecting them. That's pretty much the nightmare that has every other coach in football waking up in cold sweats. That offense was remarkably good in the playoffs last year, and there is a good chance that it is going to be better. It seems inevitable at this point that the Tigers and Crimson Tide will be playing for the title again. And with that national title performance from last year still in my mind, I would lean pretty strongly towards the Tigers again. There isn't any value in this price. However, compared to the Tide this price at least looks relatively strong.
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