Clemson football will be a national title contender once again in 2020. The Tigers have been to the College Football Playoff Championship Game four times in the last five years and have won it twice.
Led by Trevor Lawrence and an abundance of offensive skill talent–even including the loss of wide receiver Justyn Ross due to injury–Clemson will be back in the mix this year. In fact, they are the national title favorite right now, according to the oddsmakers.
ESPN’s Bill Connelly analyzed 18 of the best teams in college football and determined what he thinks needs to happen in order for them to contend for a championship. At the top of the list is Clemson, which Connelly thinks only has two “ifs” that need to go in its favor.
One involves the offensive line, which has talent but lost 126 career starts due to graduation. It is all about how the returning players step up.
The cupboard is far from bare: Swinney’s insistence on deep rotations (and Clemson’s propensity for blowing teams out) means the Tigers return four players who logged at least 325 snaps, and three of them (tackle Jackson Carman, guard Matt Bockhorst, center Cade Stewart) have starting experience. Still, a unit that has never seemed quite as strong as the rest of the offense could be a weak link until proven otherwise.
Secondly, Connelly has his eyes on the back end of the Clemson defense. The Tigers are filling several holes on that side of the ball, including at safety.
K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse are gone, and do-it-all defender Isaiah Simmons is as well.
Corner Derion Kendrick and safety Nolan Turner are both veterans, but Venables will have to skip heavily into a pool of freshmen and sophomores — nickel Mike Jones Jr., corner Andrew Booth Jr., etc. And an extra big-play glitch or two could make trips to places like Florida State and Notre Dame awfully tricky.
If we had to make a prediction, Clemson will go undefeated in regular season ACC play for the third-straight year. The other teams just don’t have enough to challenge them.
All that leaves is having to survive non-conference games against Notre Dame and South Carolina and winning the ACC championship in order to return to the CFP.