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COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2015 PRESEASON TOP 25

#14 Clemson Tigers

NATIONAL FORECAST

#14

ACC Atlantic PREDICTION

#2

HEAD COACH: Dabo Swinney, 61-26 (6+ years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Jeff Scott, Tony Elliott | DEF. COORDINATOR: Marion Hobby, Brent Venables

has won at least 10 games in four consecutive seasons, and even with personnel losses on both sides of the ball, the Tigers should be in contention for the ACC title in 2015. Quarterback Deshaun Watson should be at full strength from a torn ACL by the fall, and the rising star will be surrounded by a deep group of skill players. Only two starters return on one of the nation’s top defenses. However, has recruited well, and there’s still talent on the roster to replace some of last year’s stars.

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Previewing Clemson’s Offense for 2015
 

The moment fans had dreaded for the better part of four years finally arrived in December when offensive coordinator Chad Morris became SMU’s new head coach. But the Tigers’ offense shouldn’t look that different as long as star sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson stays healthy. Coach Dabo Swinney opted for continuity, elevating running backs coach Tony Elliott and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott to co-offensive coordinators.

Watson is the key. In eight games (five starts), he threw for 1,466 yards with 14 touchdowns against two interceptions, but he missed nearly five full games with a broken finger and later a torn ACL. He had surgery in December and will be healthy for the season opener. With Cole Stoudt at the helm, the offense largely struggled. averaged 30.8 points per game, No. 51 nationally, and ranked 110th in red zone offense.

Watson is a dynamic dual threat with excellent targets in Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, who combined for 1,995 yards with 14 touchdowns on 133 receptions a year ago. Wayne Gallman leads an improving backfield as a powerful speed back. There are questions about a line that must replace both starting guards, and true freshman Mitch Hyatt is expected to start at left tackle after Isaiah Battle declared for the NFL supplemental draft. But if Watson is healthy, the Tigers’ offense should be scary good.

Previewing Clemson’s Defense for 2015

, which includes an in-depth look at all 14 teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Brent Venables raised some eyebrows when he left Oklahoma to take over ’s struggling defense in January 2012; but three years later, it looks like a brilliant move. Last fall, the Tigers had the nation’s top overall defense, allowing 260.8 yards per game, and the No. 3 scoring defense, yielding 16.7 points per game. The challenge? Repeating the feat after losing nearly the entire defensive line two-deep (including Clemson’s career sack leader Vic Beasley) as well as middle linebacker Stephone Anthony, the team’s leading tackler.

Junior defensive end Shaq Lawson will be expected to take his game to the next level: He was a freshman All-American two years ago and had 3.5 sacks as a reserve last fall.

Junior Ben Boulware, one of the defense’s most intense players, will step into a lead role at weak-side linebacker. He and senior B.J. Goodson will have to carry bigger loads while a pair of hard-hitting redshirt freshmen — Kendall Joseph and Korie Rogers — provide depth.

The secondary will be a major strength. Sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander established himself as one of the ACC’s top cornerbacks with excellent shutdown ability.  Safety Jayron Kearse is an athletic specimen who is expected to take the next step this fall. was No. 2 nationally in pass defense a year ago, allowing 157.4 passing yards per game, and the defense will lean on the secondary again while the new defensive line gets acclimated.

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Previewing Clemson’s Specialists for 2015
 

’s only early draft departure was junior punter Bradley Pinion, who averaged 42.6 yards per boot. His replacement, junior Andy Teasdall, had two punts for 87 yards last fall. Kicker Ammon Lakip struggled initially while replacing Chandler Catanzaro, but he recovered to make 21-of-28 field goals and finish as a Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

Final Analysis 
 

Under Dabo Swinney, has developed into one of the nation’s steadiest programs, winning 42 games over the last four seasons with an ACC title and bowl wins over LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Now is the time for the Tigers to take the next step and make a run at the College Football Playoff. This group has the talent and the schedule to win the ACC. From there, the sky is the limit.

The Debate

Is Deshaun Watson the ACC's Best Quarterback for 2015?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2015 PRESEASON TOP 25

#15 LSU Tigers

NATIONAL FORECAST

#15

SEC West PREDICTION

#4

HEAD COACH: Les Miles, 103-29 (10 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Cam Cameron | DEF. COORDINATOR: Kevin Steele

owns one of the nation’s most talented rosters, but key question marks remain for Les Miles’ team in 2015. Will the offense take a step forward after ranking 13th in the in scoring last season? Getting better play from its quarterbacks would help, but the Tigers finished spring with uncertainty under center. On defense, has a new coordinator in Kevin Steele and needs to revive a pass rush that registered only 19 sacks in 2014.

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Previewing LSU’s Offense for 2015
 

Another spring in Baton Rouge and another quarterback controversy after 2014 provided little to no clarity in the race between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Coach Les Miles said the two quarterbacks split the snaps in the spring but indicated that Jennings — who completed only 49 percent of his passes last season — had the upper hand in closed scrimmages. Maturity issues and a failure to learn the playbook plagued Harris last season, and he’s admitted as much. Jennings heads into the fall as the frontrunner, but the position is far from settled.

Miles claims that tailback Leonard Fournette is bigger and stronger after almost a full year in the Tigers’ strength and conditioning program, so expect the Tigers to abandon the committee approach and allow the former five-star recruit to handle the majority of the work. He is poised for a huge season.

Poor quarterback play limited the production of a young but talented group of wide receivers. Travin Dural, who led the team with 37 receptions for 758 yards, was the only Tiger to catch more than 17 passes in 2014. Malachi Dupre, a top recruit in 2014, is poised for a breakout season if he can stay healthy.

The Tigers lose two valuable members of their offensive line but are well-equipped to move forward without taking a step back. Jerald Hawkins has the unenviable task of replacing three-year starter La’el Collins at left tackle. Hawkins has started every game he’s played at but now must shift from right to left tackle. 

Previewing LSU’s Defense for 2015 

, which includes an in-depth look at all 14 teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

The moniker “DB U.” is tossed around Baton Rouge as each new crop of defensive backs expects to be as good as their past teammates now in the NFL. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, the leader of not only the secondary but also the entire defense, is bringing along Ed Paris and early enrollee Kevin Toliver II to carry on the tradition. “We’re still DB U. It’s just different cats,” Paris said during the spring. Jalen Mills, a former Freshman All-American as a cornerback, and Jamal Adams will form a dynamic safety duo in what figures to be one of the most talented secondaries in the .

Issues surrounded the inexperienced defensive line from the start in 2014 as an endless rotation of players made it difficult for the unit to have any continuity. Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux have settled in nicely at defensive tackle, but there is concern at defensive end. With new coordinator Kevin Steele’s experience in a 3-4 base defense, the Tigers may play more three-man fronts as they continue to search for playmaking ends.

The insertion of true freshman Kendell Beckwith into the lineup at Florida ignited the linebacker corps, a unit maligned during much of 2014 for its inability to play sideline to sideline. Beckwith, the team’s second-leading tackler in 2014, brings a youthful energy and a ton of athleticism to the middle linebacker spot.

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Previewing LSU’s Specialists for 2015 
 

The once-automatic Colby Delahoussaye struggled late in his sophomore season, missing three of his final four attempts. He will battle classmate Trent Domingue for the placekicking duties in preseason camp. Jamie Keehn returns as the Tigers’ punter.

Final Analysis 
 

It’s pretty simple: needs much better play from the quarterback position in 2015. Whoever gets the starting nod must improve on an anemic passing attack that failed to throw for more than 150 yards in seven of eight games. Fournette is a star, but he can’t carry an entire offense on those broad shoulders. The defense, led by a top-flight secondary, will be strong — if not elite like defenses of the recent past. The Tigers are talented enough to be a factor in the rugged SEC West — only if the passing offense improves.

The Debate

Is LSU's Leonard Fournette the Best Running Back in the SEC?

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The exodus at Michigan

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh had quite an impact on the NFL when he began his stint with the team back in 2011. Harbaugh was fresh off a 2011 Orange Bowl victory with his Andrew Luck-led Stanford Cardinal when he inked a five-year deal...

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