Clemson Football

Clemson No. 1 in ESPN's Way Too Early Top 25

January 17, 2018
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After falling short of winning back-to-back national championships, the Tigers should enter 2018 as a heavy favorite to win the ACC and make their fourth straight appearance in the CFP.
- Mark Schlabach

The Tide may have bested the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl a few weeks ago, but ESPN believes the Tigers are the team to beat next season.

The shift in opinion comes with the return of Clemson's dominant front four, announced earlier this week. 

ESPN's Mark Schlabach writes the following about the Tigers' chances in 2018:

"After falling short of winning back-to-back national championships, the Tigers should enter 2018 as a heavy favorite to win the ACC and make their fourth straight appearance in the CFP.

Clemson's chances received a major boost when a handful of underclassmen -- defensive linemen Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins and linebacker Kendall Joseph -- decided to return to school. Ferrell and Wilkins were considered probable first-round selections if they entered the NFL draft.

The Tigers had one of the most dominant defenses in the FBS this past season; they were tied for the FBS lead in sacks (46), sixth in tackles for loss (109) and eighth in yards allowed per rush (3.1). They also signed two of the top three defensive linemen prospects in the 2018 class in Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry.

Much of the Tigers' offense returns in 2018. One burning question: Can quarterback Kelly Bryant hold off incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 pocket passer and No. 2 player overall in the ESPN 300?"

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Clemson No. One in ESPN's Way Too Early Top 25

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