by: Nathan Wernsing
As the 2018 College Football National Champions begin their 2019 season, most fans believe that Clemson should be able to dance right into the College Football Playoff. However, there are some areas where Clemson may be a little vulnerable to opponents. Here are some things to remember with every season opponent:
– GEORGIA TECH @ CLEMSON
There is not a lot to be concerned about here. The Tigers open at home against a very shaky Georgia Tech team who just lost their head coach Paul Johnson to retirement and will be moving from a 3rd option team to a more modern form of play. Nothing about this GA Tech team is impressive. Clemson should comfortably roll over the Yellow Jackets during their National Championship Celebration.
– TEXAS A&M @ CLEMSON
This game is going to be a loud, adrenaline pumping, hard hitting, emotional game. Texas A&M had Clemson in a bit of a scare last season with a narrow 28-26 victory over the Aggies. The Aggies return their excellent QB Kellen Mond who threw the ball over Clemson’s head numerous times last season. Not only is A&M’s offense talented, but the A&M defense is also going to be a bit of a show stopper if the Clemson offense doesn’t find a good rhythm early. However, Clemson does hold an offensive advantage. The lightning fast Etienne, an amazing WR core, and the legendary Trevor Lawrence will be on fire during this game. As long as the stadium has enough crowd noise, Clemson may have the advantage on defense as well. You can expect that Death Valley will be shaking and roaring come 3:30 as two potential contenders collide.
– CLEMSON @ SYRACUSE
As obvious as it might sound, most college football fans love to label this game as a trap game for the Tigers. The Orange upset the Tigers 27-24 in 2017 giving the Orange football program some hope for the future. In 2018, Dino Babers rallied his impressive Orange team in Death Valley to give the Tigers a close call ending in a final score of 27-23. The Orange lose Eric Dungey and a few other key players to the NFL, so their offense has taken a step down. However, what they lost on offense, they make up for it in defense. Especially with the scenario in mind where the Orange knockout Lawrence from the game. The Tigers have to be careful in Syracuse. The Orange fans will be out in droves for that game during that game. Like in the A&M game, the Tigers have to set their rhythm early.
– CHARLOTTE @ CLEMSON
Do I need to say anything about this game? The 49ers are a mediocre C-USA team who only just entered the FBS in 2014. To put it short, the Tigers will be able to breathe a bit before their next few games. The only concern is keeping the Tigers from looking past this game and keeping the Tiger players healthy. So sit back, and watch a fun stress-free game.
– CLEMSON @ NORTH CAROLINA
It isn’t very often anymore that the Tigers Play the Tar Heels. This will be a very fun game. You should expect a good Tiger crowd at Kennan Memorial Stadium. The Tar Heels now have a returning coach in Mack Brown with high hopes for improvement. The Tar Heels may have the home field, but the Tigers will have another comfortable game. However, the Tigers have to be wary of the Tar Heel offense. If the Tiger Defense is bringing their “A game”, there won’t be too many problems.
– FLORIDA STATE @ CLEMSON
After the first bye week for the Tigers, the Seminoles come to town for the rivalry’s renewal. The matchup in 2018 was nothing to be excited about with a comfortable Tiger victory in Tallahassee 59-10. The Seminoles are hoping to improve in Willie Taggart’s second season as head coach. After a 5-7 season and missing out on their first bowl game in three decades, the Seminole fans are losing patience with their program. The Seminoles also lose their QB Deandre Francois due to an assault charge and he will now play for Towson State. The Seminole offense will be a little shaky with a new starting QB, and the Seminole defense will be about average. Clemson will have to be careful not to stumble in this matchup by creating turnovers or injuries. Since Death Valley will provide the home field advantage, this will be a somewhat comfortable win for the Tigers.
– CLEMSON @ LOUISVILLE
If any power five team is as close to terrible as Rutgers and Kansas, it is Louisville. Many expect the Cardinals to go 2-10 this season for a second time in a row. Last season, the Cardinals came to Death Valley only to be destroyed by the Clemson team by a score of 77-16. After the loss of head coach Bobby Petrino, the Cardinals may begin to see some improvement in the program with the new head coach Scott Satterfield. Sadly for Cardinals fans, the change will not be immediate. The Tigers should have an easy task on their hands and a fun trip to Louisville, Kentucky.
– BOSTON COLLEGE @ CLEMSON
The Eagles gave the Tigers a decent matchup in Chestnut Hill last season during a 27-7 Tiger victory. The Eagles lose their great RB A.J. Dillon to the NFL. The Eagles gave little to be excited for in this game. The Tigers will have another great game against the Eagles in Death Valley, even if the score says otherwise.
– WOFFORD @ CLEMSON
Good for you Wofford! You get to play a football game in a big house (not to be confused with Michigan). The Wofford-Clemson game was alive in the early days of College Football when the stadiums were only made of grass. Clemson fans expect this to be yet another comfortable game, but as long as Clemson does not tie their FCS opponent like Alabama did The Citadel in 2018 with a 10-10 score at halftime, the Tigers should be just fine.
– CLEMSON @ NC STATE
If there has been any team that has been the most consistent (and persistent) challenging the Tigers, it’s the NC State Wolfpack. For the last 2 seasons (before 2018) the Wolfpack have kept it close with the Tigers. In 2018, the score was anything but close. The difference this year is that the game will be in Carter-Finely Stadium. The Wolfpack crowd will show up and make this an intense atmosphere. As long as the defense keeps up tempo, the game will be a lot smoother for the Tigers.
– WAKE FOREST @ CLEMSON
Most Tiger fans like to think that the Deacons will be stomped this season after the 63-3 Tiger victory last season. However, the Deacons may have the most experienced team in the ACC in 2019. With losing hardly any players to the NFL, the Deacons may be show stoppers for some teams in the ACC. However, this game is being played in Death Valley so don’t expect it to be a close one. The score may not be as crazy as the 63-3 score last season, but the Deacons will have to play an “A+ game” if they want any chance of keeping it close.
–CLEMSON @ SOUTH CAROLINA
The Palmetto Bowl will be renewed in Columbia for a great game to finish off the regular season. After a second bye week, the Tigers will be well rested and prepared for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks will have one of the toughest schedules this season. They will play Texas A&M and have a bye week before coming home for the heated rivalry. The Gamecocks return their QB Jake Bentley to play his 4th season. Gamecock fans are in dismay after the Tigers have dominated over the last five years. This will be one of the toughest games on Clemson’s schedule. With the home field advantage for the Gamecocks, the Tigers will have to be very careful not to overlook this game before the ACC Championship. The Tiger Defense will have to be prepared for the Gamecock passing game. The game was closer than usual last season with a barrage of touchdowns from their WR group. Is it too late to say “Never Again”? Well, most of the College football world thinks not. The Tigers should have a quality win in Columbia to finish off their regular season and move on to the ACC Championship game.