The Clemson Tigers were the best team in college football last year, putting the Alabama Crimson Tide to the sword in the National Championship game. Heading into the contest as slight favorites, Clemson produced a dominant performance against Nick Saban’s men – eventually running out 44-16 winners in front of a jubilant Levi’s Stadium crowd.
People are running out of superlatives to describe Clemson’s 2018 campaign. The Tigers made history with that victory over Alabama, becoming the first team in 121 years to go undefeated for the entire campaign with a perfect 15-0 record. Clemson will be looking to build on that feat this year and another push for college football supremacy looks likely.
With Trevor Lawrence tied down to stay with the program, Clemson will head into the 2019 as red hot favorites to retain the title. According to the latest American football odds, the Tigers are 2/1 to fend off their rivals at the top of the college football ladder. Alabama will be right in the mix yet again but Clemson have the strength in depth to cope in the absence of NFL-bound stars.
At 19 years old, Lawrence looks destined for greatness already. Tipped to be the first overall selection in the NFL Draft, the Tigers star is in no rush to declare himself eligible for the professional game. He led Clemson to an unprecedented campaign, throwing 30 touchdown passes and just four interceptions along the way. On paper, Lawrence ticks all the right boxes for a long and successful career.
Clemson now boasts an incredible 55-4 record over the last four seasons and it would take a brave man to back against the Tigers with that in mind. Their scouting system is rivalled only by that of Alabama and most college football fans will be expecting these two teams to lead the way once again in 2019. After all, Clemson and Alabama have won 11 of the last 12 CFP games.
Our first Football Power Index ranking of 2019 and @ClemsonFB is in the No. 1 spot— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) February 14, 2019
How do the Tigers follow up such a prolific 2019 campaign? It won’t be easy but repeating the feat will be Clemson’s ultimate goal this year. Defensively, the Tigers have been hit hard with players heading to the NFL but most of the offense remains the same. Clemson could put up historical figures this year if everything goes to plan – Dabo Swinney will be expecting big things from his team in 2019.
Doubters will argue that Clemson have lost valuable experience in the past few months; and it is hard to dispute that. The Tigers are certainly much younger now than they were at this stage last year but it is time to see whether Lawrence and co are capable of stepping up to lead the team. Leadership qualities are essential to succeed in the National Football League and this can be their audition.
Write the Clemson Tigers off at your peril. Backing against the defending champions after winning 15 games on the spin would be foolish to say the least and Swinney will have his side fired up for the new season. Be wary of a Crimson Tide backlash though; we could be set for another Bama-Clemson National Championship game and this one may go in favor of Saban's side.