There are few certainties in life… life, death, and the Clemson Tigers being the best team in the ACC.
For the second year in a row, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will open up their season against the Clemson Tigers. Last year, the Jackets were dominated by the Tigers on the road, 52-14. This time, the Yellow Jackets will get the Tigers at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium. But will the result be much more different this season?
Let’s take a preliminary look at the Clemson Tigers heading into the 2020 season.
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The Tigers last year were one of the best teams in the country, collecting a 14-1 record, an ACC Championship, and a Fiesta Bowl Championship. While their ultimate goal of winning a National Championship came up short, losing to LSU in the National Championship Game 42-25, the Tigers once again had a tremendous season and continued to do what everyone expects them to do for the most part, dominate on the field and dominate off the field. Outside of their loss to LSU and their one-point victory over North Carolina, the Tigers won each of their other 10 games by double-digits.
Key Players Returning: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, DE Xavier Thomas
There’s a good amount of players you can put here for Clemson’s key returners but we kept it to just three. Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence and senior running back Travis Etienne are two of the best at their position in the country and are potential Heisman contenders. Junior defensive end Xaiver Thomas, however, enters 2020 as he finally tries to live up to the expectations that surrounded him coming into his career. Through his first two seasons, Thomas has left more to be desired. He’ll have the opportunity in 2020 to become “the man” on the Clemson defense.
Key Players Lost: WR Justyn Ross (injury), LB Isaiah Simmons, CB A.J Terrell, WR Tee Higgins, S Tanner Muse, S K’Von Wallace
Let’s start with Justyn Ross as he’s the most notable right now. For Ross, it was recently announced that he would miss the entire 2020 season as he had to undergo spinal surgery. The surgery was an attempt to fix the congenital fusion of Ross’s spine and it could be a career-ending surgery for the probable first round pick. If Clemson had any questions entering this season, it was at the wide receiver position after losing Tee Higgins to the NFL and now with the loss of Ross, that question becomes even bigger.
Simmons, Terrell, Muse, and Wallace, on the other hand, were all high-quality players for Clemson over the last few years and will surely be missed. However, thanks to the Tigers strong recruiting efforts over the last half-decade or so, the Tigers should be able to replace them over time though replacing Simmons and Terrell will be extremely hard to replace.
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What to Expect in 2020:
Barring something that is currently and significantly unforeseen, the Tigers in 2020 should very well once again be undefeated throughout the regular season and ACC Championship game. There is simply just no team in the ACC right now that looks like they have a chance at beating Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. Clemson will be one of the top-3 teams in the country from start-to-finish and they have a significant chance to go wire-to-wire as the country’s No.1 team. Unfortunately for the Jackets, that likely means they’ll end up taking the loss in their week one matchup against the Tigers at Bobby Dodd Stadium.