We've already laid out our season expectations for Clemson, and now our entire writing staff is making their predictions for what will actually happen. Below you'll see everyone's record predictions as well as who they think Clemson will lose to.
Brian: I really really want to predict a 10-2 season. The only team we "should" lose to is FSU. Georgia and South Carolina are both in the tossup area. Even with an unknown Louisville, Clemson should run the table in the ACC outside of FSU. 9-3 is probably where we end up, but I'm going to say we go 10-2 with a loss to FSU and Georgia while finally beating South Carolina again. Oh and we'll also win our bowl game for another 11 win season.
Ryan K: After losing the greatest QB/WR duo in school history and winning the third Orange Bowl in school history (1950 and 1981 seasons), some regression should be expected.
In my expected wins article I gave Clemson a one-in-three chance to win in Athens and a one-in-five chance to win in Tallahassee. If we call those losses and go 9-1 in all other games I will be pleased, but only if one of those nine wins comes against South Carolina.
For all the losses on offense, the Clemson defense should be special and nine wins and a Palmetto Bowl victory followed by an invitation to the Capital One or Champs Sports Bowl should not be unrealistic.
Mayclore: After a close win in Athens and a delicious bulldog-shaped cupcake at home, Florida State will likely prove a bit too much unless someone can bait Jameis Winston with some Publix crab legs. I don't see either UNC or NC State posing much of a problem at home, but Louisville is an interesting game - despite having lost both their star QB and star coach - but I'll say it's a win too. Boston College barely even counts as football anymore, and Syracuse coming to Memorial Stadium ain't gonna be pretty for the other orange Atlantic team. After that lies Wake Forest - another win - but as always, never trust Georgia Tech. I'm going to say this is a loss, just because it seems to happen at random. This leaves Clemson's ACC record at 6-2, and overall record at 8-2, certainly enough for a long look by some large bowl. Georgia State is... oh, we're doing the SEC 'hurr durr cupcakes in November' thing now? Right.
Which leaves one game: the enemy. Subtract Connor Shaw and Jadaveon Clowney, and add that this is a home game, I expect victory.
With the new postseason system, I have no idea where a 10-2 Clemson team would go. Florida State is probably in an access bowl, and as such the Tigers are the next best team for anyone wanting an ACC squad unless they take the loser of the conference title game (Duke again?).
An Orange Bowl revisit is not out of the question, since they're not an access bowl this year and thus likely will take an ACC team. Let's stick them there for old times' sake - but who would Clemson play? An SEC team. It's literally the Peach Bowl but more citrus-y. I'll take... uh... hrm. Not Alabama, not LSU. Screw it, I'm going long. The SEC is a league that's lost all the quarterbacks except one: Bo Wallace. Ole Miss and Clemson in Miami, my friends, and I expect it'll be a lot like last year's game. Clemson fights off the scurvy for another year with a nice bowl of fruit.
Final record: 11-2, 6-2 ACC
QuackingTiger: Predictions are so hard and I hate going on record with anything at the beginning of the season because things change and teams evolve. But for the exercise I am going to go 10-2 with a loss to FSU and one we don't see coming. At FSU is just a mountain to climb. We could win with improved secondary play and if we can sustain more drives on offense but with Winston at home you can't bet against FSU.
I think the offense could struggle at times this year with a new QB, no proven breakaway WR, and no consistent RB threat to pound the ball. I don't think we lose to USC. But I have Georgia as a pick em game and Louisville is the other big threat as the season grinds on.
We should never lose a bowl game.
CUVince: The defense should be sick right off the bat but the offense is going to take a little while to catch up. Getting Georgia and FSU first thing isn't going to work in our favor with so many new faces on offense. I think we lose a hard fought game to Georgia. Florida State is going to beat the brakes off us again. I'll say by two touchdowns this time as opposed to five friggin' touchdowns. North Carolina is a trap game. I think we get a big scare here but pull through in the end. Louisville concerns me some as well but I'm giving us the edge at home.
The rest of the season is a cake walk. We'll fine tune our offense heading into the big showdown against the Coots and mark my words, WE WILL NOT LOSE AGAIN. Unless we do, in which case I am just absolutely going to snap. It won't be pretty. We go down in a vicious bloodbath against Auburn in a Peach Bowl rematch...played in the Orange Bowl this time around. This will give us a shiny 10-3 (7-1) record to end the season, which is fine by me. As long as we beat Sakerlina.
Spencer: 11-2 with losses to UGA and FSU. I think we could go 12-1 (wow that sounds more optimistic than I thought now that I’m typing it out) mostly because of our defense. However, I think we lose to UGA because of their talent in the front 7 + Pruitt coupled with our offensive line problems. Our defense will most likely play very well but I’m also still concerned about the secondary to an extent. I think its a close one but ultimately we lose. Hopefully I’m wrong. I think we play FSU close because of our defense and their offense will take a step back in terms of explosiveness, especially early in the year. After the rough start I think we will win out. If there is a potential trap game its on September 27 against UNC. Thats the week after the FSU but UNC has to play away at a good East Carolina team the week before. I think that we finally get the chicken off our back this year because of our defense.
However, I've been a Clemson fan long enough to know better. Realistically, I think we go 1 for 3 against UGA, FSU, and USCe. I'm preparing myself for a loss to UGA as our offense and DBs struggle to get up to game speed. FSU is still the class of the ACC and we have to go to Tallahassee. It's possible that we never quite gel on offense due to a weak line or inconsistency at RB or WR and that could cost us another game somewhere. But, hopefully, we don't stumble anywhere else and we take down the Coots to finish 10-2. We should be the clear #2 in the ACC and, therefore, get another invite to the Orange Bowl. I don't have a clue how the new bowl selection will happen, but by the end of the year, I think we'll be really clicking on offense and I like our chances against just about anybody. 11-2, Orange Bowl champs, and a top ten ranking seem reasonable to me.