Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB?  (2023)

The Clemson Tigers have become a yearly national title powerhouse under Dabo Swinney. They are in a unique position now after a decade of dominance. While no one expects them to fall completely off, many question whether they can get back to the national championship contender.

Here is a breakdown of the 2023 way-too-early predictions for the Clemson football team.

Clemson's way-to-early 2023 season prediction

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Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (8)

The Tigers, who went 11-3 and finished ranked No. 13 last season, have arguably the easiest and least impactful schedule among contending teams.

If they can stave off the dullness of having to get up for a lesser opponent for 10 out of the 12 games, The Tigers will win their eighth ACC championship in the past decade.

Key matchups

Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (9)

When looking at the Tigers' relatively cupcake schedule, they even get the benefit of playing their two toughest tests at home.

Florida State has momentum unlike anything since the Jimbo Fisher era. Even still, the last FSU team to win in Death Valley won a national title. If you look beyond the 2013 FSU team, Florida State has only won at Frank Howard Field one other time in the 2000s. Not to mention, the Tigers have won the last seven matchups against the Seminoles, many in dominating fashion. Clemson should be the favorite to continue that trend.

Clemson’s newest rival, Notre Dame, is the other glaring matchup on the schedule. This has been a tightly contested rivalry, with Notre Dame blowing out the Tigers in South Bend last season. Nov. 4 is probably circled by Swinney's program.

Key players

Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (10)

Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is gone from the Tigers program. Cade Klubnik has taken his spot, to the joy of Tigers fans worldwide. In his few snaps, Klubnik won the ACC Championship Game MVP with a dominating performance. He followed that with a 300-yard game against sixth-ranked Tennessee in a 31-14 Orange Bowl win.

Will Shipley carries the load as the top runner again. Shipley scored 11 times and enters the season on the Paul Hornung Award watch list.

On the other side of the ball, Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is the best linebacker in college football. Barrett Carter is another impact player in the front seven. Peter Woods will start as a five-star freshman in 2023 and is a name to look out for in the coming years.

Roster analysis

Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (11)

The front four of Clemson was depleted. Peter Woods will have to fill that void much like Bryan Bresee and Tyler Davis have done before him.

Players like freshman All-American Antonio Williams and Jake Briningstool will be Cade Klubnik‘s favorite targets in his first full season as the starting quarterback.

The supporting cast around Klubnik will be the key to Clemson season. Will their patented under-the-radar style of recruiting continue to pay off as it did in their national championship years?

Coaching strategies

Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (12)

Long-criticized for his continuous in-house promotions. Dabo Swinney finally looked outside of Clemson to bring in his newest offensive coordinator.

Garrett Riley was plucked from TCU to reinvent the Tigers' stale offensive attack.

Everything that made Dabo Swinney successful as a head coach is what he has been criticized for recently. Going into his 14th season, Swinney filled the void that Brent Venables left when he went to Oklahoma with Wes Goodwin.

Wes Goodwin’s defense hasn’t yet met the Venables' level of defense. That’s pretty tough to do considering the historic level he produced at Clemson.

Expectations and goals

Is Clemson in Power Five Purgatory? can they handle their big games and return to the CFB? (13)

Dabo Swinney often jokes that when they lose two games, the media expect him to fire all his coaches and start over. That shows the expectations that Sweeney’s run at Clemson has created. That’s the expectation: win the ACC, win the national championship.

Some would put them in no man’s land. They have a top five easiest schedule in 2023. That gives them a great opportunity to be undefeated and unavoidably in the College Football Playoff.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein


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