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Is Clemson the ACC Atlantic Favorite?


Clemson has not won an ACC title since 1991, when Ken Hatfield’s Tigers won the conference the season before Florida State started in league play. Could that change this year? After beating Auburn and Florida State, Clemson looks like it may have a shot to finally get over the ACC hump. It’s not like the program has been bad; in fact the Tigers have only missed a bowl game four times in the last 25 years. Despite that consistent success, there is a feeling around college football that the Tigers continually fall short of expectations. Dabo Swinney and staff have recruited well lately, and the win over the Seminoles will definitely raise those expectations once again.

Will Clemson win the ACC Atlantic?

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
It’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon and pick Clemson to win the ACC Atlantic Division. After all, the Tigers are already 1–0 in league play with a win over the team (Florida State) that was picked by almost everyone to win the league in the preseason. And the Clemson offense, which struggled a bit in the first two weeks of the season, looked very sharp in wins over Auburn and FSU. It’s clear that Tajh Boyd is an ideal triggerman for Chad Morris’ offense and, as usual, the Tigers are loaded at the other skill positions. But I’m sticking with Florida State. First of all, the Seminoles are still a very good football team — a team that has been forced to play the past six quarters without its starting quarterback. Also, the Noles have a much kinder league schedule than Clemson. The Tigers are forced to play at Virginia Tech and at Georgia Tech, the two teams that have emerged as the best in the ACC Atlantic, while Florida State plays neither team. That is a huge advantage. One more factor: I don’t trust Clemson. I want to trust the Tigers. I want to believe that this year’s club is different, but Clemson has been one of the most schizophrenic programs in the nation over the past decade (or more). Whenever you fall in love with the Tigers, you end up getting hurt. I don’t want to get hurt.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
Clemson has a good shot at winning the division, but the defense must improve quickly. Chad Morris’ offense has been a breath of fresh air for the Tigers, and the Tajh Boyd-Sammy Watkins combination has been lethal so far this season. I’m not worried about Clemson’s past inconsistencies; it’s the road schedule that is a concern. The Florida State win was huge, but now the Tigers have to travel to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Maryland. They also have to play a gritty North Carolina bunch, while the Noles avoid the Hokies, Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels. Additionally, FSU gets Miami and Maryland at home so there might not be another league loss on the schedule for Jimbo Fisher's crew. If Clemson can beat either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech on the road, I think Dabo Swinney’s team will win the division and change the perception of the program.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I think Clemson will fall short of winning the ACC Atlantic title. After two sluggish performances to open the year against Troy and Wofford, the Tigers have looked like a different team against Auburn and Florida State. Quarterback Tajh Boyd seems to be finding his rhythm in the new offense, and freshman receiver Sammy Watkins has been as good as advertised. However, the defense has struggled and is giving up 405.5 yards per game. I don’t think the Tigers get by Virginia Tech this Saturday and will probably lose at least two more times in conference play. If nothing else, the 4-0 start should provide Dabo Swinney some job security. However, I don’t think Clemson is ready to win the ACC Atlantic this year and still think Florida State will find a way to play for the conference title in December.