2018 Clemson Tigers College Football Preview

by | Jul 11, 2018 | NCAA Football


Clemson Tigers
Memorial Stadium
(81,500 Seat Stadium)
Tifway 419 Bermuda Grass
Clemson, South Carolina

For the so-called experts in the sports world, the Clemson Tigers are the overwhelming favorite to win the ACC Championship but for Dabo Swinney and the Tigers, there is so much more at stake this year, which includes winning the College Football National Championship.

The Tigers won the National Championship in 2016 and finished up last year as the #4 team in the country. They went to the College Football National Championship Playoff semifinals but dropped the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide by the score of 24-6.

Clemson has become one of the staples in the National Championship picture, posting a 40-4 record over the past three years. The Tigers will look to get back on track here with another shot at the National Championship in 2018 and they have all the talent in the world to do it. Clemson will return 15 starters from a team last year that went 7-1 in the ACC and 12-2 overall.

Clemson Tigers Coaching

Dabo Swinney is back for another year with the Clemson Tigers. Swinney has won four ACC Championship, six ACC Atlantic Division Titles and won the National Championship with Clemson in 2016. He has won tons of “Coach of the Year” awards including the Bobby Dodd, ACC Coach of the Year, Home Depot Coach of the Year AP Coach of the Year, Walter Camp Coach of the Year, Paul Bryant Award and George Munger Award.

Swinney has posted a 101-30 record and is 7-5 in the bowl season. One could call Swinney Mr. ACC, as he has never had a losing record in the conference. His worst season in Clemson was in 2010 when he went 4-4. He has gone to a bowl every year he has been with the team, including playing in the past three College Football Playoffs.

Swinney will have his Co-Offensive Coordinators back with him in 2018. Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott with operate the Clemson Tigers offense. This offense has been really good over the past few years and a lot has to do with the way they run the offense in Clemson. Brent Venables will be back with Dabo for his 7th year as the Clemson Tigers Defensive Coordinator and it would shock me this year if his name is thrown around for one of the vacant Head Coaching positions that become available towards the end of the season.

Clemson Tigers Offense

The Clemson Tigers will run the Spread Offense once again in 2018. The Tigers have had a lot of success with this offense and will keep on the same path this year, with a talented crew of returners. The players that have been lost, are being replaced with 5 Star recruits and instead of taking a step back, they are really getting better. If you read the Spooky Express 2018 ACC Conference Preview, you are aware that we feel that they have the best offense in the ACC this year.

Kelly Bryant is back for his senior year as the quarterback of the Clemson Tigers. Bryant is a Heisman Trophy Candidate over at our Spooky Express ACC Conference Preview and is sitting at +3000 at BetMania to win the prestigious award. Bryant left the Sugar Bowl last year with the media calling for his job! The Tigers were only able to muster 188 yards in a 24-6 loss at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Bryant took the criticism in stride and showed up for the annual Orange and White Game, looking very strong. Head Coach Dabo Swinney has said that Bryant is the unquestioned starter in Clemson however even Swinney admitted that he has guys breaking down his back wanting to take that starting position.

5-star quarterback Prospect Hunter Johnson is the one that everyone is calling to get a shot in Clemson. Johnson is a sophomore quarterback that has a very bright future. There is also Freshman Trevor Lawrence, who is also very hyped in Clemson and getting all of the attention in the offseason leading up to 2018. Lawrence went 11 for 16 for 122 yards and a touchdown in the annual Orange and White Game in the Spring.

Whichever quarterback ends up in the backfield, they will have one of the best receiving units in the ACC. Hunter Renfrow, Diondre Overton, Amari Rodgers and Tee Higgins are going to a complete nightmare for most secondaries to match up with. This unit could make any quarterback look good, just throw them the ball!

In addition to the amazing quarterback/receiver combos, the Clemson Tigers have a great backfield returning this year. Tavien Feaster and Heisman Trophy candidate Travis Etienne will load up the backfield and take a ton of pressure off Bryant, or whichever quarterback the Tigers end up with.

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Clemson Tigers Defense

The Clemson Tigers have a great defense and if the pieces fall into place this year, they may overtake Miami Hurricanes as the best defense in the ACC. In our 2018 ACC Conference Preview, we have Miami Hurricanes listed as the top defense but we could have very easily put Clemson in that spot.

Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, and Christian Wilkins will all be back on the front line and that is a scary situation for any offense in the ACC, or even in the country! All three of these guys could have gone pro last year but choose to stay in school and play one more year with the Clemson Tigers.

The one thing that Venables has this year is depth. He can change up this defense as frequently as he would like to keep fresh legs in the game and the 2’s and 3’s are nearly as good as the starters. This team is going to be very hard to score on in 2018, which makes them one of the favorites to win the ACC Championship.

2018 Clemson Tigers Schedule

The Clemson schedule is very favorable for the Tigers this year. They will get to host the South Carolina Gamecocks this year in the final game of the regular season but they do have to go away and face Jimbo Fisher in his second game of the year, as the new Texas A&M Aggies Head Coach.

If the Tigers get out of Texas A&M unscathed, there will be a real shot at them going undefeated on the year. Now, I know…some of you will say that they lost to Pitt in 2016 and Syracuse in 2017 but it can happen to any team in the ACC on any given week. That being said, I don’t see any team in the regular season that will give them a run for their money. I think they can roll into the ACC Title game with an undefeated record.

  • September 1 Furman Paladins
  • September 8 @ Texas A&M Aggies
  • September 15 Georgia Southern Eagles
  • September 22 @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
  • September 29 Syracuse Orange
  • October 6 @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • October 13 Bye Week
  • October 20 NC State Wolfpack (Homecoming)
  • October 27 @ Florida State Seminoles
  • November 3 Louisville Cardinals
  • November 10 @ Boston College Eagles
  • November 17 Duke Blue Devils
  • November 24 South Carolina Gamecocks
  • December 1 ACC Championship Game (Charlotte, NC) *If Applicable*

2018 Predictions and Betting Outlook for Clemson Tigers

I’ve already said it that I think this team will go undefeated in the regular season. They are as strong of a team that I’ve seen in many years for Dabo Swinney and with his leadership, I just don’t see anyone beating them. We have them ranked #1 in our ACC Conference Power Rankings and the difference between them and the next team, Miami Hurricanes, is actually pretty drastic.

Our friends over at BetMania have listed the Clemson Tigers at +450 to win the National Championship. I think that is a good play, even though I’m not a fan of the odds. I would certainly like to get better odds on this game but even so, they are a strong contender this year to win the National Championship. As far as the ACC Championship, they are currently the favorite at -300 and all though I think they will win the ACC Championship, I am not going to bet them because of such short odds. The Hurricanes will have a defense that can pose problems for Kelly Bryant led offense. Too risky for the ACC Championship wager but by all means, jump on the +450 to win the National Championship!

As far as betting on the Heisman Trophy candidate Kelly Bryant, I do not recommend it. First off, the winner of the Heisman Trophy is considered the best player in College Football and I highly doubt that Bryant will be the best football player in the NCAA this year. He is good and I do think at the end of the day, he will most likely shut up all his critics but not enough to win the Heisman.

Don’t forget to check out our NCAA College Football Betting Guide to stay up to date on all of the happenings in College Football throughout the 2018 Season.

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