Perfection. It's the ultimate goal of every college football team entering a season. However, in reality, only a few programs have the potential to run the table each and every year. Alabama is certainly one and based solely on talent, so is Ohio State.
And now Clemson has entered that mix. The Tigers are certainly among the elite of the elite thanks to their recent championship results and they begin 2018 with the highest of high expectations. With dynamic playmakers on offense and next-level performers all over the defense, Clemson can go undefeated.
But will they? Athlon Sports polled a few editors and college football contributors share their realistic win/loss projection for Clemson in 2018.
Clemson Football Game-by-Game Predictions 2018
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clemson lose once during the regular season. After all, the Tigers lost to Pitt in 2016 and fell at Syracuse last year. A defeat at Florida State or Boston College seems reasonable despite the stacked roster coach Dabo Swinney’s team returns. Clemson possesses the nation’s No. 1 defensive line and a plethora of talented skill players on offense. Regardless of whether Kelly Bryant (above, right) or Trevor Lawrence start at quarterback, the Tigers will rank among the best in the ACC on offense. Bryant played well in his first year as the starter, but Lawrence is a difference-maker through the air and can provide the offense with more big plays downfield. Even if Clemson stumbles once during the regular season, it should find its way into the CFB Playoff and likely a spot in the national championship game.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Clemson is loaded once again and enter the 2018 season as the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC for the fourth straight season. The big question: Will the Tigers go undefeated in the regular season? It's obviously possible — and they very likely will be favored in every game — but it's so hard to make it through a college football season unscathed. Just ask last year's Clemson team. Or the previous season's Clemson team. On paper, the trips to Texas A&M in Week 2 and Florida State in in late October appear to be the most challenging, but I'm picking the Sept. 22 visit to Georgia Tech as the week Clemson stubs its toe in 2018. It will, however, be a small step back en route to another league title.
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer)
My biggest question for the Tigers during the regular season is if they will be challenged at all. Some of their toughest games come against teams that are rebuilding to a certain extent and only the trip to Tallahassee carries significant danger on the ACC road slate. Believe all the hype around the defensive line because it's that good but don't forget about all the pieces they can throw at you on the back end too. No matter who's at quarterback, this seems like it will be a team purposefully trying to be more explosive on offense, which is scary to think about. No offense to Alabama, but this is the favorite to win it all in 2018.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
It’s more than just Clemson’s deep stock of talent. Two other factors come into play: the schedule and confidence. What many don’t understand is that this is not a three-year success story. Dabo Swinney’s team is 72-11 since the start of the 2012 season and 6-2 in postseason games over that time. This is a consistent program in that the players believe they will win every game. The schedule this fall has some tricky contests like at Texas A&M, at Florida State, and at Boston College. But Clemson could be a double-digit favorite in each of those games. It is true that they were unexpectedly tripped up once in each of the last two seasons. But to predict where that will occur is extremely difficult, and that’s assuming that a team this loaded, prepared and motivated is going to lose at all. My thought is that Clemson goes into the ACC Championship Game at 12-0.