Clemson Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions
It’s time to take one last look at Clemson’s 2014 schedule, which will begin with Georgia in less than two weeks. The 2014 slate offers a couple of tough road games, and features home games against surprise teams within the ACC.
There are a couple of trap games for the Tigers, but the three big games will once again determine the outcome of the season.
Prediction: Win 27-20
Much like Clemson, Georgia enters this fall with a couple of question marks. The defense has to improve from last season, when it was 10th in the SEC in points allowed. Also, Hutson Mason will have to play efficiently for this Bulldogs team to make a run at a conference title.
This matchup could be much different from last year’s game, which saw a combined 73 points scored. With two much improved defenses, this one could be 27-20, or something similar. Either way, I think the Tigers take this one because of their defense.
Keeping pressure on Mason will be key No. 1 for the Tigers, and I think they are able to accomplish that goal. Georgia will have to replace three solid offensive linemen from last year’s team, and that could be evident early in the season.
The same could be said about Clemson’s offensive line, but the Tigers have the better defensive line of the two, and that will be a big factor for them in this one.
Vs. South Carolina State
Prediction: Win, 40-10
This game will be important for the young guys to prove they deserve to be on the field. If everything goes smoothly, the Tigers should be able to pull their first-team guys by halftime, allowing young players an opportunity to showcase their talents.
The thing I look forward to most about this game is likely getting to see Deshaun Watson play for a quarter or more. The Tigers should win this one, and my thought is a 40-10 score. With talent on the bench, even the second team and third team should be able to put points on the scoreboard.
At Florida State
Prediction: Loss, 27-17
Playing on the road against the No. 1 team in the country can certainly be a motivational tool, but I’m afraid the Tigers may need a little bit more than that. Jameis Winston returns after having a brilliant Heisman-winning campaign last season, and his supporting cast is just as good as last year.
The strength on Clemson’s team this year is without doubt the defensive line, but I’m not sure how much pressure they will be able to generate against the Seminoles. The Tigers were not able to get much pressure on Winston a year ago against Florida State’s strong offensive line.
Florida State enters this season with one of the nation’s best offensive lines, led by All-Americans Tre Jackson and Cameron Erving. Cole Stoudt will have to play huge in this one, but it still may not be enough on the road.
The Tigers are capable of winning this one, but Florida State looks tough to take down at this point.
Vs. North Carolina
Prediction: Win, 30-20
North Carolina could be the surprise team of the ACC this season, but luckily the Tigers get this one at home. Larry Fedora has brought this program along nicely, but the Tigers win this one if they play without mistakes.
Basically, Clemson can lose this one if it beats itself with turnovers, because North Carolina has momentum. After starting 1-5 in 2013, they enter 2014 after winning six of their final seven games.
I think Clemson’s defense is able to win this one. Marquise Williams, the likely starter at quarterback, has shown signs of inconsistency at times, and Clemson’s defensive line will keep him off his game.
Vs. North Carolina State
Prediction: Win, 34-17
The Wolfpack struggled in Dave Doeren’s first season as head coach, going winless in conference play. One of the reasons for that was quarterback play, which will need to improve this fall.
North Carolina State will be an improved team, but it still doesn’t have the talent to compete with Clemson on the road.
This is always a fun rivalry game, but the Tigers take this one 34-17.
Prediction: Win, 31-20
The Cardinals are another team within the ACC that I think will surprise people. After losing almost every key part of last year’s team, Louisville returns with a new coach. Well, an old coach, you could say.
Bobby Petrino has a proven track record, and he should be able to keep Louisville competitive. The question that remains is how quick can he do it? With star players gone off the defense and a new starter at quarterback, the Cardinals could see their ups and downs in year one of the Petrino era.
With this game in Death Valley, the Tigers are able to take this one 31-20.
At Boston College
Prediction: Win 38-17
The Eagles enter this season with the difficult task of replacing their leading passer, rusher and receiver. Unlike the Tigers, who have the talent to reload the positions, Boston College will look to find answers this fall.
The Tigers have a somewhat tricky history with Boston College over the last 10 years, but they have found ways to win the last three matchups.
Boston College may stay in this game at first, but I expect the Tigers to pull away in the second half.
Prediction: Win 31-10
In last year’s matchup, the Tigers were able to keep quarterback Terrel Hunt off his game, forcing him into three interceptions and only eight completions.
In Death Valley, where crowd noise is always a factor, the Tigers should once again be able to force Hunt into mistakes. I think Clemson takes this one, 31-10.
At Wake Forest
Prediction: Win 48-14
The Demon Deacons are in a state of rebuilding this season and shouldn’t give the Tigers much trouble in this one. Clemson has won the last five matchups with Wake Forest, winning the last two games by a combined score of 98-20.
With a new head coach and a new quarterback, this will be a slow process that won’t see many positive results in year one.
At Georgia Tech
Prediction: Win, 27-24
This is the trickiest game on Clemson’s schedule. While Florida State is certainly the toughest, this is the game Tigers fans should feel nervous about. The Tigers haven’t won on the road against the Yellow Jackets since 2003.
On paper, the Tigers have more talent, but Georgia Tech plays them tough. I’ll say 27-24 in favor of Clemson, but I’m not as confident about this pick.
Vs. Georgia State
Prediction: Win, 52-10
The way it looks on the schedule, this game is a chance to rest the key guys and get a better look at the young ones. With the showdown with South Carolina approaching, I wouldn’t expect the main contributors to play long.
By this point in the season, Chad Morris’ offense should be in a rhythm, and we should see that here. Even with the backups playing a majority of this game, expect the Tigers to score big. I say 52-10, or something similar to that.
Vs. South Carolina
This is probably the one game everyone has been reading this article for. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but there’s no way to put a score on this one just yet. The Gamecocks have won five in a row, so they seem like the early favorite, but there are many questions that need to be answered from both teams this season.
Carolina’s offense could be one of the best in the country, but the defense is the question mark. They are loaded with young talent on that side of the ball, but it will be a matter of which players are able to step up and have big seasons.
The Tigers need to play with more than motivation in this one. The six turnovers in last year’s loss were really disappointing for Clemson, so addressing that issue is priority No. 1.
Looking at it early on, the two keys in this game are limiting the turnovers and finding ways to keep pressure on Dylan Thompson.