Like all FBS teams, the Clemson Tigers are scheduled to play 12 games. The slate includes six home contests and five true road matchups.
But as we prepare for the 2021 season, it is Clemson’s opener – the neutral-site battle with Georgia – that is drawing all the attention. While it is possible that the Tigers are tripped up sometime after week one, Clemson will be heavy favorites in their last 11 games of the regular season.
Here is how some Athlon analysts believe Clemson will fare against Georgia and how they will handle the remaining games on the schedule.
Clemson Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2021
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Clemson is set for another run at the national title in 2021. The defensive line is the best in college football, and there’s no shortage of firepower on offense with the return of receiver Justyn Ross back to full strength and quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei’s development in his first full year as the starter. The Tigers will be heavy favorites in ACC play, while the opener against Georgia (a toss-up) looms large for the playoff picture. A showdown against North Carolina or Miami in the ACC Championship Game is interesting, but coach Dabo Swinney’s team has won each of the last four league title games by 24 or more points. Clemson has made the CFB Playoff six years in a row, and while a loss to the Bulldogs would put that streak in jeopardy, I think Swinney’s team extends that run to seven and finishes with a perfect 12-0 mark in the regular season.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
I certainly think Georgia is capable of beating Clemson in the season opener, but the timing of this game seems to favor the Tigers. The Bulldogs will be breaking in several new starters on defense, which should benefit D.J. Uiagalelei. Yes, he's tasked with replacing the No. 1 pick in the most recent NFL draft, but talent is not a question with Uiagalelei or with Clemson as a whole. If the Tigers get by Georgia there really isn't another game that screams "upset alert." That doesn't mean Clemson won’t be tested (see Boston College last season) at some point, but as boring as it may seem, Dabo Swinney's team should go 12-0 without too much difficulty.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
Clemson has not lost a game to a current ACC team since the Friday the 13th loss at Syracuse in October 2017 and it’s unlikely that the Tigers will be beaten in the league this year. NC State is projected to be the second-best team in the Atlantic Division, and Clemson has to go to Raleigh this season. But the Tigers have dominated the last two meetings and there is quite a difference in the teams’ talent levels. The same is true when comparing Clemson to every other ACC squad and rival South Carolina.
It may seem crazy to say that Clemson’s season will be defined by their first game, but that may be true. Despite injuries to their wide receiver group, Georgia is loaded. Quarterback JT Daniels is expected to give the Bulldogs an improved vertical passing game and head coach Kirby Smart has accumulated a wealth of talented players in recent years.
But the Clemson defense should be among the best in the country and will limit the Georgia offense. And while the Bulldogs have athletes all over the defense, they are breaking in several new starters and Tigers’ quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has some nice pass-catching options, including Justyn Ross, who missed all of last year with a neck injury. As a result, Clemson will survive the opener and, while a challenge in one or two other games is possible, will finish the regular season 12-0.