After losing 2013 playmakers Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, 2014 will not be an easy year for Clemson. The Tigers play three ranked teams in the first four games, and could possibly drop out of the Top 25 if they lose to both Georgia and FSU. Fortunately the next eight games are all winnable, leaving the season-ending grudge match against South Carolina to determine how good a bowl game the Tigers get invited to.
Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson (right) may or may not be the key to Clemson’s season. Senior Cole Stoudt (left) will start and should be able to manage the offense quite well. Watson is supposed to play in the first game and could take most of the snaps in game two. Considering the lack of depth at running back, Watson’s running ability may be the only hope Clemson has against FSU and South Carolina – two defenses known to give inexperienced quarterbacks fits.
At #12 Georgia Aug 30: LOSE (0-1) Last year Clemson edged Georgia at home, thanks to Boyd, Watkins, and a late special teams breakdown by Georgia. Winning in Athens will be much more difficult. In a high-scoring game, this time the Dawgs edge the Tigers.
South Carolina State Sept 6: WIN (1-1) A typical Clemson blowout, though SC State will come in sky high. Many in the crowd will beat the heat (and traffic) and leave at halftime.
At #1 FSU Sept 20: LOSE (1-2) Clemson will make a game of it early, but the Noles will pull away in the fourth quarter.
#23 North Carolina Sept 27: WIN (2-2) With an uncharacteristic 1-2 record, the Tigers take out their frustrations on the over-hyped Tar Heels.
NC State Oct 4: WIN (3-2) The Wolfpack always plays Clemson tough, but the Tigers win this one easily.
Louisville Oct 11: WIN (4-2) Petrino’s Cardinals aren’t as loaded as last year, but win win their share of ACC games. Just not this week. After two wins the Tigers will have their confidence back. Beating Louisville will be a struggle, but doable.
At Boston College Oct 18: WIN (5-2) Clemson often struggles at Alumni Stadium, and could suffer a letdown after the previous week’s big win. The Tigers will win, but won’t cover the spread.
Syracuse Oct 25: WIN (6-2) In a repeat of last year’s drubbing, Clemson will easily beat the Orangemen for the second straight year.
at Wake Forest Thursday Nov 6: WIN (7-2) After five straight wins, the Tigers will be ripe for an upset. Playing at Wake Forest on a chilly Thursday night in front of a national television audience would be the perfect time. It’s happened before, but this time Dabo will have the team ready.
at Georgia Tech Nov 15: WIN (8-2) Some Clemson fans think Grant Field has a hex over the Tigers. Tech will be on a win streak of their own and will be running the pure triple option on all cylinders, making a Tiger victory that much tougher. Another close game, but Clemson wins their seventh straight.
Georgia State Nov 22: WIN (9-2) Climbing in the rankings, the Tigers come out fired up on senior day dressed in purple. The Panthers won’t have a chance, but are thankful for the payday. Dispite pregame pleadings from Dabo, the Clemson faithful stick around only until the fourth quarter.
#9 South Carolina Nov 29: WIN (10-2) With the exception of FSU, South Carolina will have the most talent Clemson has faced all year. Another close game. In the end, the Tigers finally win.