The Clemson Tigers football program has become a mainstay on the College Football Playoff stage. 2019-20 marked the fifth straight season that Clemson made the Playoff. Even more impressive is the fact that the Tigers advanced to the National Championship game in four of those five appearances, winning the title twice. After an offseason that saw several players advance to the NFL level, the Tigers are once again armed and ready for the upcoming campaign. The commitment to football excellence in Clemson, South Carolina, ensures that the team will be in the thick of the national championship picture once again.
Clemson Odds to Win National Championship 2021
Clemson Odds Analysis
Clemson may not have brought home the title last year, but it was an impressive season, nonetheless. After completing an undefeated regular season and routing Virginia in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson was one of three teams to enter the College Football Playoff with a 13-0 record. The Tigers dispatched of one of those teams in the semifinal round, winning a come-from-behind thriller over Ohio State. The near-perfect season fell short in the National Championship Game, a 42-25 loss to LSU. The Tigers from Baton Rouge proved to be too much for even the elite Clemson defense to contain. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was uncharacteristically inaccurate in the title game as well, completing less than 50% of his passes. While it wasn’t the ending Clemson had in mind, the loss should only serve as extra motivation heading into the 2020-21 campaign.
Unlike many of the other teams that have drawn favor from the betting market with regard to their National Championship hopes, Clemson’s odds sit at +250 at most shops across the board. That price is enough to make the Tigers the consensus betting favorite with Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia being the next three in line. At DraftKings, Ohio State is listed as a co-favorite at the same +250 price. Alabama hovers between the +400 and +600 range, while Georgia is a bit further back, falling between +1000 and +1200 at most books.
Just like their status as favorites when it comes to the National Championship odds, Clemson also has the highest win total line of any team in the country. In actuality, the market total of 11.5 makes it a wager of whether or not Clemson will run the table for a second consecutive 12-0 regular season. Behind the Tigers, Ohio State has a win total of 11 while Alabama and Oklahoma are next in line at 10.5.
ACC Betting Odds
When it comes to betting on the ACC Championship picture, Clemson finds themselves as the runaway market favorite. At BetMGM, the Tigers are a massive -625 favorite. The next closest team is Miami at a distant +800. The only two teams who would figure to have any real chance at dethroning Clemson before the ACC Championship Game on the Atlantic Division side of the conference are Florida State (+2500) and Louisville (+3500). Both are clearly sizable underdogs. Miami heads the Coastal Division odds. Other teams that might be potential ACC Championship Game opponents for Clemson include North Carolina (+1400), Virginia (+2500) and Virginia Tech (+3000). It’s interesting to note how several Coastal teams find themselves with shorter betting odds than comparable Atlantic Division teams simply because they wouldn’t have to get through Clemson until the conference title game.
Clemson Schedule Preview
While saying that the ACC is a cakewalk would fail to do the conference justice, Clemson figures to be light years ahead of the rest of the league once again in 2020-21. The Tigers will have to be ready in Week 2 for a Louisville team that is on the rise. Early October presents a pair of difficult matchups in a Friday night game at Boston College and a road game against Florida State the following week. FSU figures to be Clemson’s chief competition in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
The month of November figures to be one in which Clemson is making its push for both the ACC Championship Game and a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Tigers open the month with what should be another strong road test at Notre Dame. They then will host the regular-season finale against South Carolina three weeks later. While the Tigers are vastly superior on paper, the Palmetto Bowl is not just any old football game.
Clemson Roster Outlook
Like any premier College Football program, Clemson naturally lost its share of players to this past spring’s NFL draft, as well as to general graduation. Fortunately, a good number of notable names and key contributors from last year’s roster return. Dabo Swinney and the recruiting staff cinched a top-3 2020 recruiting class as well. The future remains bright both in 2020-21 and beyond for the Tigers.
The Clemson offense will again revolve around quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Now entering his junior, collegiate season, the three-year starter has rewarded Swinney’s early faith in him by leading the Tigers to two consecutive National Championship Game appearances. At 6’ 6” and 220 lbs., Lawrence is widely projected to be the surefire number 1 overall selection made in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has the stats to go along with his calm demeanor, poise, and leadership. In 2019-20, he passed for over 3600 yards, 36 touchdowns, and recorded a 65.8% completion percentage.
Lawrence isn’t the only notable junior who will again be a fixture in the Clemson offense. Running back Travis Etienne is another impactful piece that also has many NFL scouts drooling. He has rushed for over 1600 yards in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Etienne piled up 19 rushing touchdowns. He also saw an expanded role in the passing game, hauling in 37 receptions for 432 yards and 4 scores. The most impressive stat of Etienne’s college career to date is undoubtedly his average yards per carry. Etienne has never averaged fewer than 7 and notched a 7.8 YPC mark in 2019-20. Fellow junior Lyn Dixon will also see work in a complementary role.
The Tigers lost their top wideout from a season ago to the professional ranks in Tee Higgins, but they still welcome plenty of talent back. Senior Amari Rodgers is a threat, while Will Swinney has proven that he can carve teams up over the middle of the field. Sophomores Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. figure to be in line for increased looks. Wide receiver has to be considered the weakest spot of this Clemson offense, but one should expect growth from several of the younger players at the position.
Clemson does welcome back an experienced offensive line led by senior center Cade Stewart. He will be flanked by a pair of juniors and sophomores on either side. Clemson lacks experienced O-line depth, however. Any number of freshmen could be in line for critical minutes should injury strike.
Clemson’s defense ranked second in the country in points allowed last season, affording opponents just 13.5 per game. Coordinator Brent Venables is widely revered for his coaching ability. Despite losing a few key contributors from last year’s unit, the Tigers bring back plenty of experience (not one freshman is listed in the projected starting lineup) and will once again be tough to score against.
Seniors Justin Foster and Nyles Pinckney will lead the defensive front. James Skalski is one to watch at middle linebacker after his 90-tackle season. Jake Venables, the son of the defensive coordinator, sits behind him on the depth chart. Clemson will likely start a pair of juniors opposite each other at the cornerback positions in Mario Goodrich and Derion Kendrick. Senior Nolan Turner will anchor the unit at safety.
-Backfield Experience and Depth
-Defense, Especially at the Linebacker Position
-Lack of a True Top Receiver
-Inexperienced Offensive Line Depth
-No Proven Receiving Threat at Tight End
-New Defensive Leadership Must Emerge
Clemson is the odds-on favorite to hoist the National Championship trophy for a good reason. Oddsmakers have correctly identified the Tigers as one of the best teams in the country. Pair that with an easier road in the ACC than those of some other College Football Playoff hopefuls, and Clemson deserves to be the favorites. Despite the lack of value relative to other contenders, there is no denying that a futures wager on the Tigers would have a real chance to cash.
While it is hard to get excited about laying -625 on a futures bet, backing Clemson to win the ACC is certainly not the worst scenario to do so. I don’t see the Tigers having any trouble in conference play. They could very well claim the Atlantic Division even with a slipup at Boston College or Florida State. Assuming they make the ACC Championship Game, no Coastal Division team figures to pose much of a threat on a neutral field. The Tigers have throttled their opponents in the conference title game in each of the past three seasons.
Despite all there is to love about the Tigers, a bet on the under of 11.5 wins for the regular season is something I am in favor of. As good as Clemson is, going undefeated is no easy task. While they will likely be favored in every game, there are several tough dates. Remember that injuries can also play a factor.