It's Shark Week.
The television event draws a large audience every year with in-depth shows about ferocious marine life. This fall, there will be an entirely different devouring in front of a live audience.
Based on recent history, the Clemson football team is poised to demolish a Power-5 squad on its schedule by a huge margin. Think back to 2015, when the Tigers rolled Miami 58-0 in South Florida. They dropped 77 on Louisville in 2018 and 73 on Georgia Tech a year ago. The 66-point margin of victory over the Yellow Jackets was the most in ACC history.
In the College Football Playoff era alone, there's the unforgettable 56-7 win over South Carolina in 2016 and the 49-point win over Florida State in Tallahassee in 2018.
Once again, the Tigers, who are listed as +400 and second on FanDuel Sportsbook's odds list to win the national title, are going to be huge favorites in several games this fall. Earlier this summer, they were favored over FSU and Louisville by 27 and 21.5 points, respectively.
In honor of Shark Week, here's a look at which Power-5 team could take the worst thrashing (along with where it ranks in terms of an impending blowout) from Clemson in 2021:
Georgia Tech (Sept. 18)
The last time the Yellow Jackets came to Memorial Stadium, they left with a 52-14 loss in the first game of the Geoff Collins era. And while there have been some signs of improvement as a program since the shift from the Paul Johnson triple-option to a more modern offense, GT is still very far behind Clemson in terms of talent. Collins just wants to see that gap close. It didn't last year and there's a good chance it won't again. These were two very similar teams in terms of wins and losses for many years, but it's been as lopsided as any ACC series since the Tigers vanquished road demons back in 2016.
Beatdown ranking: 4
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Syracuse (Oct. 15)
Yes, Dino Babers has beaten Dabo Swinney during the regular season. Yes, the Carrier Dome is a weird, some would say difficult, place to play. But there is nothing on paper that suggests anything other than a major rout in mid-October. The Orange have won just six games since the 10-win season of 2018, and Babers could be on the hot seat. It's a venue the Tigers will take seriously, and if QB Tommy DeVito is still behind that atrocious offensive line, it's hard to see Clemson struggling against a team it's beaten by a combined 61 points the last two seasons.
Beatdown ranking: 2
FSU (Oct. 30)
The Seminoles SHOULD be much improved in coach Mike Norvell's second season. They've hit the transfer portal hard. The recruiting numbers are improving. A new culture is being set. There are some legitimate reasons to like what FSU football is doing these days. There's just one problem: Like a great white shark, Clemson will be out for blood in 2021. The Seminoles canceled last year's contest due to COVID-19 after the Tigers traveled to Tallahassee. It sparked controversy and many disparaging words from Swinney. With FSU coming to Death Valley on Halloween weekend, expect Clemson to be extra motivated for this regular-season game, and if there's a chance to really stick it to the Seminoles, which Clemson has beaten by 80 points in the last two meetings, if the Tigers are up big, the home team might not hesitate to run the score up.
Beatdown ranking: 1
Wake Forest (Nov. 20)
No offense to Dave Clawson. He's a tremendous coach and has made Wake Forest extremely respectable, especially considering the lack of talent the program possessed when he got there. But the Demon Deacons haven't beaten Clemson since 2008, and they've lost by double digits during that 12-year span 11 times. More recently, Clemson has beaten Wake 63-3 in 2018, 52-3 in 2019 and 37-13 in 2020. This is just not a good matchup for the Deacs, which implement a mesh offensive play that's been mastered by Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Also, this game in Death Valley always seems to be played late in the year when the Tigers have hit their stride.
Beatdown ranking: 5
South Carolina (Nov. 27)
When it comes to mercy, Clemson has spared none for its in-state rival. Following a five-year win streak by South Carolina that began in the last 2000s, the Tigers have won six consecutive games in the series by an average of 25 points. The Gamecocks aren't expected to be very strong in 2021, and it's hard seeing them closing the gap following a two-win season that forced the school to fire Will Muschamp. Shane Beamer takes over, but it'll be his first season ever at the helm of any team. Maybe Swinney takes it easy on Beamer in their first meeting, but for the long-running series that took a break last year, it seems another impressive (and large) Clemson win is inevitable.
Beatdown ranking: 3