The college football season is about to get underway. Most oddsmakers have the two teams who appeared in the National Championship Game last season – Clemson and Alabama – as the prohibitive favorites for this year as well.
Why Clemson Repeats
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The Clemson quarterback took his team all the way to the national championship last season as a freshman. He put up impressive numbers, throwing for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He should not only be better in his sophomore season. Plus, he also has the benefit of a number of starters from last year’s offense returning.
That includes running back Travis Etienne, who rushed for nearly 1700 yards last year. He may be the very best running back in the country. Wide receiver Justyn Ross also returns after an impressive sophomore season where he made 46 catches for 1000 yards and nine touchdowns. There are going to be very few defenses that can slow this offense down if any at all.
The ACC Stinks
When Miami rose from the grave in 2017, there was a lot of speculation that this conference was going to be a major player once again. The Hurricanes are back many thought. However, Miami has fallen back to earth and the rest of this conference is mediocre, to say the least. Louisville is a mess right now and Virginia Tech simply hasn’t been good for 10 years.
No one knows what they’re getting out of Florida State and Syracuse is not a threat. Clemson should easily roll through this conference. That means their pathway to the national playoffs may be the easiest of all.
Who Is Better?
Not to be flippant but, outside of Alabama, no one has the pure talent of Clemson. They are well coached, have as deep of a squad as any in the nation, and have proven over the last four years that they are a force to be reckoned with. Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Notre Dame may have talent. They just don’t measure up Clemson right now.
Why They Don’t
Now that we have established three reasons why Clemson could repeat as national champions, here are three reasons to believe otherwise.
The Defense May Struggle
The Tigers defense lost a number of key starters from last season. Only linebacker Isaiah Simmons and safeties Tanner Muse and K’Von Wallace returned from last year’s squad. In other words, Clemson is in a rebuilding mode with their defense.
While the offense should put up some gaudy numbers, this defense is going to take some time to gel. All it takes is for one slip up for them to fall out of the national title picture. While there is a lot of talent on this side of the ball, no one looks ready to replace Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, and Dexter Lawrence. All of whom will be playing in an NFL uniform this season.
A New Offense Line
While much of the offense returns for Lawrence, two key players were lost. Clemson lost their starting left tackle and center, both of whom graduated. That means that the sophomore is going to need to build up the right timing with a new center. Plus, he has to gain confidence that his blindside is being protected.
Once again, all it takes is a couple of early fumbles this season or a hit that jars the sophomore, and the Tigers season can quickly fall apart. It is true that there are talented replacements for Mitch Hyatt and Justin Falcinelli. However, no one likes to see players having to prove themselves with such high stakes on the line.
It’s Hard to Repeat
Alabama has been to the national championship game in each of the last four seasons. What haven’t they done during that time? Repeat. It’s hard to win national championships in two consecutive years. That is why no one has done it since the new playoff format was instituted.
It is true that Clemson is quite talented, but so is Alabama. They have a stud quarterback as well in TuaTagovailoa, and he has a number of weapons at his disposal. Add to it the fact that the defense for the Crimson Tide is better all around than that of the Tigers. That makes it is easy to see why the road to a second consecutive national championship is laid with a lot of potholes and ruts.
There is also one other factor to consider when discussing repeating. Every team that plays the Tigers will want to make a statement. This will be the national title game for those teams each and every week. Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, Boston College, South Carolina are all teams that are going to play like their life depended upon it.
It’s hard for Clemson to get that kind of emotional boost each and every week. However, each of these teams will be hyped for this game above all others. The Tigers are going to get the very best effort from opponents each week. That may be a little too much for Clemson to try to overcome each and every week.
The truth is that the Clemson Tigers are still the class of the college football world. This is a team that is incredibly deep, well coached, and has a number of blue-chip players. While trying to beat Alabama for a second straight year is a real challenge, there is really no reason to believe this team won’t be 13-0 come national playoff time.