Dabo Swinney's Tigers are ready to defend their national title
Despite what Alabama's Dylan Moses may think, Clemson has ascended to the Crimson Tide's level in the college football world. With two titles in three years, it may be the Tigers that are the true kings of the sport.
With the 2019 season set to begin, another loaded Clemson team will be ready to go. Criticizing anything on the offense is nit-picking of the highest order and though the defense loses a considerable amount of talent, Dabo Swinney has recruited exceptionally well on that side of the ball and coordinator Brent Venables has a history of successfully rebuilding defenses.
Clemson is once again poised to roll into the College Football Playoff and beyond. But are there landmines on the Tigers' schedule where they could slip up? Here are the opinions of two Athlon editors and one of its college football contributors.
Clemson Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is one of the easiest game-by-game predictions to do for 2019. Clemson will be a heavy favorite in all 12 of its regular-season games and should be No. 1 or No. 2 going into the CFB Playoff. It’s no secret the Tigers have one of the nation’s top offenses, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. Clemson has a few concerns on defense, but it’s hard to doubt coordinator Brent Venables. Finding the next wave of stars up front and restocking the linebacker position will be the biggest priorities for Venables and his defensive assistants this fall. Two games stand out as the toughest on the 2019 slate: A home date versus Texas A&M and a road trip to Syracuse in September. Those games won’t be easy, but the Tigers have too much firepower on offense to suffer an upset loss in 2019.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
There's not much analysis needed when reviewing the Clemson schedule. Sure, the Tigers will get tested — the home game against Texas A&M and the road trip to Syracuse figure to be the most difficult games — but this is an elite team with very few, in any, holes on its roster. I would be surprised if Clemson is not playing for the national title on Jan. 7.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
Clemson is in everyone's top two and will be a prohibitive favorite in each of their games this season. So why don't I think things will be as easy as many predict? Dabo Swinney is great at filtering out all the noise, but there is so much of it this year, with everyone clamoring about the greatness of Clemson. The team will have to ignore the plaudits and that is easier said than done.
The schedule is not brutal, but back-to-back games with Texas A&M and Syracuse — with the Orange battle coming on the road — won't be easy. They also play a tricky road game at NC State and though the Tigers have owned South Carolina in recent years, this year's matchup at Williams-Brice against the improved Gamecocks could be interesting. And as big an advantage as Death Valley is for the Tigers, Syracuse should have beaten them in Clemson last year and Pittsburgh did in 2016.
Still, it's impossible to pick against perhaps the most talented team in America. The Tigers will be pushed on more than one occasion, but they will come out of the regular season unscathed.