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Clemson Football

Clemson projected to finish behind Alabama in preseason poll

June 21, 2019
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Athlon’s annual preseason college football magazine has hit shelves everywhere, which always gives fans a much-needed fix before August rolls around.

Every year, the magazine ranks all 130 teams in the country prior to kickoff. These ranking project where each team will finish the season, as opposed to starting it. Clemson and Alabama are in familiar territory - at the top of the list.

The Crimson Tide are listed at No. 1, while Clemson is just behind at No. 2.

“The last image of Alabama in the 2018 college football season was a blowout loss at the hands of Clemson in the national championship,” Athlon’s Steven Lasson writes. “Defeats like the one the Crimson Tide suffered in Santa Clara simply don't happen under coach Nick Saban's watch. But after another offseason of coaching changes, Alabama is poised for another run at the national championship – the sixth during Saban's tenure.”

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Clemson and Alabama could be on a collision course for a fifth consecutive season.

If these are indeed rankings based upon how the season will end, then Athlon is projecting a fifth straight meeting between Clemson and Alabama, four of which have been in a national championship setting. The last time Alabama faced Clemson after losing the year before, the Crimson Tide came out motivated and took care of business in the 2018 Sugar Bowl, 24-6.

The Tide return Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa, who will get a second season of starting under his belt. Last season Tagovailoa threw for almost 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns. Tagovailoa also boasts one of the best receiving corps in the country, led by Jerry Jeudy.

With Trevor Lawrence and so many key pieces on offense returning, the offense should be as explosive as ever. That’s what makes Clemson such an early favorite, not only in every game it’ll play this season, but the favorite to make it back to the national championship game.

Texas A&M, who the Tigers will play on Sept. 7, is interestingly picked to finish No. 10. The only other team on Clemson’s schedule to finish in the top 25 - Syracuse, which the Tigers will face on the road a week after they play the Aggies.

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Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher hope to be one of the toughest challenges for Clemson in 2019.

The next closest teams on the list who also appear on Clemson’s schedule are South Carolina (No. 32) and Florida State (No. 33).

“Although Clemson is one of the favorites to win it all in 2019, history isn't on their side,” Athlon writes. “Only one team (Alabama) has won back-to-back national titles since the start of the BCS era. But with Lawrence and a talented cast of playmakers in place on offense, along with a standout defense, the Tigers have all of the necessary pieces to reverse that trend.”

Athlon ranked Clemson’s non-conference schedule as the ACC’s third-toughest trailing only Duke and Florida State. 

The Blue Devils open the season against the Crimson Tide in a neutral site game in Atlanta. Duke also takes a trip to South Bend in November to face the Fighting Irish.

As for the Seminoles, they open with Boise State in Jacksonville and travel to SEC rival Florida on November 30.

Duke Florida State Clemson

Aug. 31 vs. Alabama (Atlanta)

Aug. 31 vs. Boise State (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Sept. 7 vs. Texas A&M

Sept. 7 vs. North Carolina A&T

Sept. 7 vs. ULM

Sept. 21 vs. Charlotte

Sept. 14 at Middle Tennessee

Nov. 16 vs. Alabama State

Nov. 2 vs. Wofford

Nov. 9 vs. Notre Dame

Nov. 30 at Florida

Nov. 30 at South Carolina

You can check out Athlon’s full list of 130 teams here.

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Clemson projected to finish behind Alabama in preseason poll

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