Clemson Season Win Total Prediction
Few would argue that the best player in college football resides in Death Valley. After narrowly missing out on the ultimate prize this past January, will Clemson’s entire team reign supreme in 2016-17?
Deshaun Watson and the Tigers are as physically gifted as any group in the country. They’re unspeakably hungry, too, having been swatted down by Alabama in the national title game. Taking into account a brutal batch of ACC rivals, though, online sports book Bovada.lv projects Dabo Swinney’s troops for 10.5 victories.
At first blush, said number may seem fairly conservative. Yet the program has never faced pressure like this. Two other New Year’s Six hopefuls, Florida State and Louisville, also set up shop in the same league. In effect, everybody’s just waiting to jump on the slightest sign of vulnerability.
Swinney’s signal-caller, of courses, embraces that challenge. Watson comes off a campaign in which he threw for 4,104 yards and rushed for another 1,105. The dual threat’s rampage resulted in a third-place finish in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Entering the fall, he’s the odds-on favorite to capture the statue as a junior.
The coaching staff spared no expense in assembling a top-notch supporting cast for Watson either. Intermediate weapon Artavis Scott recorded 93 catches for 901 yards and six touchdowns last season. He’ll be joined by Mike Williams, Deon Cain and Jordan Leggett. It’s particularly exciting to see Williams back in uniform, as he suffered a broken bone in his neck almost 12 months ago. Various scouts view the South Carolina native as one of the premier perimeter options in the land.
On the ground, Wayne Gallman offers a refreshingly different dimension. While the Tigers boast a host of burners everywhere else, the main tailback prefers a violent, north-south style. He’ll gallop behind a reconfigured, albeit shrewd, O-line. Sophomore left tackle Mitch Hyatt embodies the anchor, with center Jay Guillermo and guard Tyrone Crowder providing veteran assistance. Bear in mind that this crew allowed only 18 sacks in 2015.
Defensively, Clemson couldn’t ask for a better mastermind than Brett Venables. The coordinator loses star ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, but the next round of incoming blue chips should help ease the pain. Carlos Watkins and Christian Wilkins form an imposing interior tandem. Venables’ depth will enable him to utilize Dexter Lawrence, the No. 2 overall recruit in America, as a rotational piece in the early going as well.
Senior Ben Boulware, the Tigers’ leading returning tackler, and Kendall Joseph guarantee a sturdy linebacking corps. The T.J. Green-less secondary, however, looks dicey. Can former role player Jadar Johnson morph into a full-fledged starting safety? Where does true freshman Trayvon Mullen fit into the equation? How many warts is All-ACC corner Cordrea Tankersley capable of hiding? The questions threaten to hover around Memorial Stadium for some time.
Even so, Clemson’s strengths far outweigh its “weaknesses.” The bulk of experts envision the squad’s Oct. 29 date at FSU as the clash that decides the Atlantic Division. While the Seminoles promise to present a mammoth test, we dare not stray from the sport’s most spellbinding – and flat-out effective – individual talent. Roll with Watson & Co. all the way to the College Football Playoff again.
THURSDAY COLLEGE FOOTBALL FREE PICK: CLEMSON TIGERS OVER 10.5 WINS (EVEN)