2017 season: 12-2, 7-1 in the ACC (1st in the ACC)

Head coach: Dabo Swinney (10th season)

Clemson had a 2017 season reminiscent of the two prior years–ones that ended in a chmapionship playoff berth. The Tigers secured the ACC Championship title with then junior quarterback Kelly Bryant taking home the most valuable player honors in the ACC championship game. However, after just losing one game in the regular season and advancing to the Sugar Bowl, they could not return to the championship game for the third straight year. The Tigers suffered a devastating 24-6 loss to Alabama in the semifinal game, who then went on to win the championship. 

But last season’s team is not done yet.

Bryant will return as a graduate student. Not only is Bryant returning in the hopes of leading his team to another championship run, but so are other key players such as left tackle Mitch Hyatt–a three-year starter. Defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, expected to leave to the draft, will also be returning, making it so that seven defensive starters will be returning for the 2018-2019 season. 

Clemson's sole loss came against Syracuse, where Orange quarterback Eric Dungey torched the Tigers normally stringent defense while Bryant had an uncharacteristically underwhelming game in leading Clemson's attack. If the Tigers play to their full potential, they should avoid similarly head-scratching upsets this year. The real test will come in the playoffs, when they may face the reigning champs once again.