Sorry Alabama, the best you can hope for is No.2
The AP has released its official preseason top 25 list, and for the first time in school history, they are ranked No. 1. As the reigning national champions that clobbered Alabama in the title game last year, that is an understandable position for them to be in.
Of course, the first thing that most college football fans will wonder upon hearing the news is how long they will stay there. Don’t the Tigers know that’s Alabama’s traditional spot? But the Tide are sitting pretty at No. 2 just waiting for the Tigers to lose.
But according to the over/under DraftKings has set for the Tigers, that may not happen. There is a very good chance the Tigers go undefeated, win their conference, make the playoffs, and face Alabama in the national title game once again (and win):
Win Total—11.5 Over -120/Under +100 Win ACC -600 Make Playoffs -750 Alabama/Clemson Rematch in Championship Game +250 To Win National Championship +170 So—yeah, it is safe to say that big things are expected of the Clemson Tigers this year. With Heisman favorite (+200) Trevor Lawrence behind center, there is no reason to think they can’t do great things this season.
Yes, they are going to have some spots to fill in their starting units on both sides of the ball. The defensive front that helped lead the team to the title game last year is gone as are Lawrence’s favorite receivers. But he will have one of the best running backs in the country in Travis Etienne keeping defenses from focusing too much on the passing game.
It doesn’t hurt that Lawrence’s offensive line is expected to be one of the best in the country.
But back to the original question—how long is Clemson going to be the No. 1 team in the nation? With the CFP Committee not releasing its rankings until midseason, Alabama is going to have to count on Clemson losing for them to take over the top spot.
So—is there anyone that can beat Clemson?
Of their 12 regular-season opponents, there are only two distinct possibilities—Texas A&M in Week 2 and Syracuse the following week. The Tigers are a better team than Syracuse and are favored to win by 20, but Syracuse has given Clemson a run for its money the last couple of years. Enough so to think they may score the upset? Of course not. But they may beat the spread.
No, the only real chance the Tigers have of losing is going to be in Week Two against Texas A&M. The Aggies gave Clemson’s defense all it could handle last season, and the Aggies nearly forced overtime with a late touchdown (but failed to connect on a two-point conversion).
Lawrence was ineffective when he was in the game last year; Kelly Bryant had to lead the team to victory. But Lawrence has come a long way since then. The only problem is, so have the Aggies under the guidance of head coach Jimbo Fisher.
Texas A&M could pull off the upset which would then open the door for Alabama to take its usual spot at No.1. Is the chance they could strong enough to bet on? Absolutely not—but taking Texas A&M and the points (+17) has a lot of value.
Sorry ‘Bama fans. It looks like the best your team can hope for is No. 2 this season.