It is now officially time to turn the page on the 2021 college football season.
The 2021 season wrapped up last night, as the Georgia Bulldogs knocked off Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to win the program’s first national title since 1980.
Now, if you are a history buff and a Clemson Football fan, you hope history repeats itself. When Georgia won its 1980 National Championship, the Tigers claimed one of their own the next year.
When Clemson won its first of two national championships under Dabo Swinney in 2016, the Bulldogs advanced to the title game in 2017. So, what I am saying here is that at the very least, the Tigers should be playing for another national championship in 2022.
However, we have a long way to go between now and then, so let’s put a bow on the 2021 football season and wrap this whole thing up.
It seemed like forever ago that Clemson and Georgia opened the 2021 College Football Season at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Of the Bulldogs’ 14 wins, the Tigers stayed the closest, losing by just seven points, thanks to a pick-six.
Georgia won the other 13 games by a minimum of 15 points and by an average of 33.5 points.
As for Clemson, it finished ranked inside the top 15 of the final Associated Press Poll for a school-record 10th consecutive season.
However, the Tigers’ streak of six consecutive top 4 finishes came to an end in 2021. This season marked the first time since 2014, when it finished No. 15 in the final poll, Clemson did not end up in the top 4 of the AP Poll.
The Tigers’ streak of six consecutive top 4 finishes marked just the fifth time in the history of the AP Poll, which began in 1936, that has happened.
But getting back to the 2021 season, Clemson concluded the year with six straight victories, which represents the longest current win streak among Power 5 schools to close the season. The Tigers actually won eight of their last nine games to finish the year 10-3 overall.
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Clemson has now recorded 11 consecutive 10-win seasons, the third longest such streak in the history of college football. Only Florida State’s (1987-2000) and Alabama’s (2008-’21) runs of 14 straight have been better. Those three teams are the only programs in the history of college football to record 11 straight years of 10-plus-win seasons.
Statistically speaking, the Tigers finished ranked second nationally in scoring defense (14.8 points/game), marking the fifth time in the last six years they have ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense.
Clemson has led the ACC in scoring defense in all five of those seasons, as well. The only year it did not was in 2020 when it ranked second behind Notre Dame—who was a one-year member of the ACC due to the pandemic—and 18th nationally at 20.2 points allowed per game.
In all, the Tigers led the ACC in eight different defensive categories, including total defense, points allowed, touchdowns allowed and yards per play. They also ranked in the top two in four others.
From a national standpoint, the Clemson defense ranked in the top 5 in seven different categories, including total points, yards per play and touchdowns allowed. Overall, they ranked in the top 10 in 12 different areas, including sacks, yards per attempt, total defense and rushing defense.
Offensively, the Tigers had their worst year under Dabo Swinney since the 2010 season. They averaged just 359.2 yards per game, which ranked 13th in the ACC. Their 26.3 points per game average, is also the lowest total under Swinney since the 2010 season.
However, you have to keep in mind how banged up the Tigers were all season. Yes, D.J. Uiagalelei struggled last season, but to be fair, he started to show some progression before he injured his knee in the Louisville game.
After that, he injured the index finger in his throwing hand, which limited him more. The offensive line, which was already inexperienced to begin with, was also banged up throughout the year, which caused a lot of issues.
The wide receivers were a M.A.S.H. unit at best. At the end of the season, Clemson was down seven scholarship wide receivers and reserve player Will Swinney was the only wideout to play in all 13 games for the Tigers. That is how bad it was.
Besides Uiagalelei, left tackle Jordan McFadden and right tackle Walker Parks are the only other players on offense to start every game in 2021.
So, when we look back at the 2021 football season, it will be remembered as one of the Tigers’ better seasons. It was not a great year, but it was a good year. And how the Tigers got to 10 wins—with all the injuries and the nine in-season transfers—is still a head-scratcher.
This was, without a doubt, Dabo Swinney’s best head coaching job. And that is how it should be remembered. Now on to 2022 where Clemson is currently +1,000 to win the national title in 2022, according to FanDuel.