The Tigers, with Deshaun Watson leading the way, are the current favorites to win the ACC and should be challenging nationally as well. Our NCAA football odds preview is inside.
Though the Florida State Seminoles are right there on their heels, the Tigers are the top dogs on the futures list in the ACC, and they're getting a lot of respect nation-wide too.
You can currently back Clemson at roughly +250 at sites like 5Dimes if you think they'll run away with the conference title. Interestingly enough, however, the Tigers are actually listed behind Florida State nationally, with Clemson available for backing at approximately +3000. Meanwhile, the Seminoles are hovering around the +1500 mark to win the national title.
Clemson Tigers: 2014 Recap
You can see why expectations are high heading into the 2015 season. The Tigers had a fantastic 2014 campaign, finishing 9-3 in the regular season and then thumping Oklahoma 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
After losing two games early on (to top-ranked opponents in Florida State and Georgia), Clemson locked in down the stretch and got better and better as the season wore on, culminating in that fantastic win over the Sooners. Offensively, the Tigers averaged 30.8 points per game (#54 in the nation), but they were at their best defensively in 2014. Clemon allowed just 16.7 points per game, which was the third-best mark in all of college football last season.
Individually, Deshaun Watson quickly emerged as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country as a freshman. He had a 14:2 TD:INT ratio and ran for 200 yards and five additional scores over a period of eight games, and he linked up nicely with both Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, who combined for almost 2,000 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2014. Out of the backfield, Wayne Gallman ran for 769 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman.
Clemson ranked fifth against the run last season and did just fine against the pass too, which gave them a nice foundation to work from on the other side of the ball.
Clemson Tigers: 2015 Look-Ahead
There's a lot of room for optimism ahead of the new season, and the College Football odds clearly agree.
We'll start with Clemson's schedule. The non-conference schedule is easy as pie, but things really get dicey quickly, with matchups against Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks. Meetings with Florida State, South Carolina and Miami (FL) should prove to be rather challenging too, but the Tigers have the talent to hold their own and emerge as the cream of the crop in the conference. Based on the college football betting lines, however, a run at the national title doesn't seem very likely.
Still, Watson's play as a freshman bodes well for the future, and he should only get better and better as he gains more and more experience. In fact, the same can be said across the board offensively. Gallman is back to head up the rushing attack after a solid freshman campaign, and the team's top two wideouts (Williams and Scott) are back too. Williams especially is expected to become one of the premier wide receivers in the nation after recording 1,030 receiving yards and six scores as a sophomore; he's already built a nice rapport with Watson, and that dynamic duo should be hard for the rest of the ACC to stop.
Defensively, it may prove difficult for the Tigers to repeat their dominance from last season, but they should still have a pretty formidable unit. The loss of Vic Beasley to the NFL will be a blow, but Clemson still has enough talent to be a top 25 defensive unit.
All in all, we can expect to see the Tigers vying for the top spot, and the odds are quite tempting, at least on the national scale all the way up at +3000. That may be worth serious consideration with your College Football picks.