It is no secret that Clemson Football will be facing one of its more challenging seasons this upcoming fall. With playing both Georgia and Florida on the road very early in the season, and having to play ACC new comer Louisville right after back to back home games against North Carolina and North Carolina State, there is hardly room for error if Clemson wants to have a repeat of their previous two 11-win seasons. The most difficult stretch of games could arguably occur within the first four weeks of the season opener.
The key to a successful football season will include defeating top teams Georgia, Florida State and North Carolina all in September with their only break being a home game versus South Carolina State two weeks before they hit the road to play the preseason number one ranked Florida State.
Last year, Clemson suffered a heart-breaking defeat against the Seminoles in Death Valley that ended up in a 51-14 shocker. However, if Clemson can make it through that first month with only one loss, the Tigers will have the potential to have a great remaining season.
ESPN has ranked Clemson in the top 15 in their Preseason Football Power Index with an offensive rating of 25th and a defensive rating of 6th. Four other teams that Clemson will see in competition this season are ranked within the top 20 as well, and most of the teams are the ones Clemson faces in their first month of the season.
Clemson will also have to face the ever-challenging South Carolina again this season. The important rivalry game will be held at Clemson this time, and the stakes are high as Sportingnews.com has recently released that the bitter rivalry between the two southern schools is the third best in the nation. ESPN ranked South Carolina as 9th in the preseason with a #8 offense and a #18 defense. Although South Carolina may be basking in the glory of winning five consecutive rivalry games, the loss of star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is very detrimental to their powerful defense while Clemson’s 2014 defense will be stronger than ever.
There are varying predictions on how well Clemson will perform this season but one risky statement keeps popping up in multiple sources, and it reads: “Clemson could win the 2014 National Championship.”
Now this is one bold proclamation that would require many different things to fall in place during the season. However, Phil Steele recently listed Clemson among 15 schools that he believes fits the bill for winning the 2014 national championship. Stewart Mandel from SI.com also named Clemson as the season’s “darkhorse playoff candidate.”
The boldest statement of them all however, came from Pete Roussel of coachingsearch.com when he came right out and predicted that the Tigers will win it all this season. He even mentioned that Clemson’s defensive line will be able to aid in the defeat of Florida State, Georgia and South Carolina.
Now I believe that prediction, although exciting to Clemson fans everywhere, is a bit premature. Clemson’s new offense will have a lot to prove in its first month of the season, but it should be noted that Clemson has a tendency of surprising people with their success. If the stars align and Clemson defeats the number one preseason ranked team, and makes it through that September gauntlet still undefeated, then Roussel just may be right.