Will Someone Dethrone Clemson in the ACC this year?
All In. That’s been the Clemson Football Team motto for 13 years now, since they hired Dabo Swinney in 2008. They have done just that with 7 ACC Championships since then. But is their 6 year reign over the ACC coming to an end in 2021?
There are a few teams that have built dynasties in the College Football Playoff Era. Those teams are Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Clemson. In fact, all of the Championship Games since 2014 have featured one of these teams.
Clemson has had their fair share of success in the College Football Playoffs, winning 2 championships with two Heisman caliber quarterbacks.
Their first championship was back in 2017, where they took down then #1 ranked Alabama. It was a back and forth game that ultimately came down to the very last play, where Deshaun Watson found Hunter Renfrow for the game-winning touchdown. This started the epic journey that this team would go on for years to come.
After losing in the semi-finals to Alabama in 2018, they got their revenge again in 2019 where freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence led the Tigers to an absolute rout of the Crimson Tide. He threw for nearly 300 yards and had 3 touchdowns.
Many people thought that Clemson wouldn’t make the College Football Playoffs again once Deshaun Watson skipped his senior year, but freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence was able to prove them wrong. Now that Trevor Lawrence is the best recruit since Andrew Luck and the number one overall pick in the recent NFL Draft, Clemson looks to his replacement for success this season.
But boy, do they have a good one to replace Lawrence. We saw glimpses of DJ Uiagalelei last season with Clemson when they decided to sit Trevor Lawerence in the 2nd half and when Lawrence was ineligible due to COVID-19.
DJ Uiagalelei has an absolute rocket for an arm and can hit any receiver at any spot on the field. He already has great vision and can take off when the play collapses, which will benefit him well in Dabo Swinney’s offense.
But there are a few teams out there that could pose a threat to Clemson this year in the ACC.
Bias? Maybe a little, but I do think that they are one of the few teams in the ACC that have the star power and ability to take down Clemson in the ACC Championship. They were 7-2 in the ACC last season, with losses to Clemson and North Carolina.
They would have been the eventual ACC Coastal Champions and face off against Clemson in the ACC Championship if COVID did not affect the season and change the way the ACC worked.
Notre Dame was added into the ACC for football for the first and last time ever last seasons and was able to make the ACC Championship over Miami.
Even though Miami was routed by North Carolina to end the regular season, they showed a ton of resilience in the Cheez Its Bowl when D’Eriq King went down with an ACL injury in the 2nd quarter.
They did lose the game but the way that the team rallied on offense was showing glimpses of hope for Rhett Lashlee and his game plan.
With King coming back for another year, and the new offensive weapons that the Canes have brought in over the past 2 recruiting classes, they will surely be able to be a force to be reckoned with. Their defense is always great as Manny Diaz prioritizes that side of the ball more as the Head Coach.
They will finally need to get over the hump of playing down to their competition, but if they can this season they will have the best chance at taking down Clemson in the ACC Championship.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Speaking of North Carolina, I think that they have the second-best chance to take down Clemson this season. Junior QB Sam Howell has proven himself as an elite QB, passing Trevor Lawrence’s record for most touchdowns before his Junior year. Coach Mack Brown has turned this program around in just a few years with his incredible recruiting classes. They had another great class in 2021 and many of these players will have breakout seasons.
Their dynamic duo Michael Carter and Javonte Williams have both gone to the NFL this year, but they still have a very potent offense with Sam Howell under center. I expect them to give Miami and run for their money in the Coastal and compete for the ACC Championship if they are able to take down Miami.