Clemson Primed to Make National Title Run in 2021

It’s that time of the year. College football programs all across the country have either just wrapped up spring practice or are about to finish, and every team in the nation has College Football Playoff aspirations.

Even the perennial cellar-dwellers have rosters full of players thinking things like “why not us” or “what if” as they head into the summer months. However, in reality, only a handful of teams have an actual shot at pulling it off.

There might be half a dozen teams that realistically have a shot at winning a national title next year. It’s the same case as every other season and the best argument for why the playoff doesn’t need more than four teams.

Then once we get into the season, that number tends to shrink even more. Usually there are two, maybe three teams that separate themselves from the rest of the pack and there’s no reason to think things will be different in the upcoming season.

Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State are all faced with having to replace first round quarterbacks and yet those are the teams getting the best odds to win a national title.

2021 National Title Odds

  • Alabama +260
  • Clemson +475
  • Ohio State +650
  • Georgia +700
  • Oklahoma +800

Fans do not like hearing it, but the Tigers have one of the easiest paths to the playoff. While they do open with Georgia, there doesn’t appear to be much resistance regarding the path to a seventh straight ACC title game, meaning chances are a loss to the Dawgs could be overcome.

Clemson is leaps and bounds ahead of where every other ACC team is currently. Their second toughest game might not come until the ACC Championship and while teams like North Carolina and Miami may have made strides, in reality, there is still a sizeable gap.

Trevor Lawrence is off to the NFL, but in his place is former five-star talent D.J. Uiagalelei. The rising sophomore’s ceiling is just as high as any quarterback the Tigers have fielded in the Dabo Swinney era and this offense should thrive with him as the triggerman.

Uiagalelei will have at his disposal one of the most talented group of receivers that the Tigers have fielded in quite some time. Justyn Ross, Frank Ladson, Jospeh Ngata, and EJ Williams are all former five-star players. Ajou Ajou, while still raw in some ways, might have a ceiling as high as any receiver on the roster.

Clemson also has a group of dynamic tight ends and with Tony Elliott now coaching that group, expect them to be an even bigger part of the offense. The biggest problem the Tigers might have this season is finding a way to consistently keep all those pass catchers involved.

Travis Etienne, the schools all-time leading rusher, is also off to the NFL. However, Clemson features one of the nations deepest groups of running backs, led by senior Lyn-J Dixon.

After having patiently waited his turn for three seasons behind Etienne, there probably isn’t a player on the roster more hungry than Dixon. The senior back enters the season with a chip on his shoulder and is determined to prove he is capable of being the feature back in the Tigers offense.

Add Kobe Pace, Chez Mellusi, Phil Mafah and Will Shipley into the mix, and Clemson should have a fairly potent rushing attack, provided the offensive line can give them room to run. An offensive line that admittedly, vastly underperformed at times last season.

Don’t expect a repeat in 2021. This is a group that is very motivated to prove they are better than what they showed last season. The Tigers are determined to get the best five guys on the field, meaning the competition was fierce in the spring and should remain that way throughout fall camp. There is a lot of young talent to work with.

Then there’s the defense. Outside of some depth concerns at corner and needing a couple of those young safeties to take the next step in their development, there is a lot to like about what Brent Venables will put on the field.

The defensive front is loaded. Myles Murphy, Xavier Thomas, KJ Henry and Justin Mascoll give the Tigers a group of dynamic and experienced pass rushers.

Where this team will really thrive is along the interior of the defensive line. Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis lead the way and Ruke Orhorhoro is primed to have a breakout season. Highly touted youngsters Tre Williams and DeMonte Capehart both now have a season under their belts and should be ready to contribute.

This is a front four capable of getting after the quarterback and that is an area the Tigers should excel in next season, which in turn will also help mask any deficiencies on the backend of the defense.

On top of the talent that will line up at every position for the Tigers, this team is out to prove something. Determined to prove that they are better than what they showed the last time they took the field in New Orleans.

Talent, determination, and with Dabo Swinney leading the way, this Clemson team has the look of a champion. Not just a conference champion but maybe even a national champion.

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