Athlon Sports released its pre-season top 25 on Wednesday and
brought Clemson back to the next level.
The Tigers ranked No. 4 overall, behind only Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia.
“The Tigers won double-digit games for the 11th straight year in 2021, but failed to qualify for the CFB playoffs for the first time since 2014,” writes Steve Lassan. “Was last season a year-long anomaly or a sign of a small slip from the top of college football? Although question marks remain, the coach Dabo SwinneyClemson’s team should be able to build on their defense to get back to the top of the ACC… Clemson’s defense is good enough to win the ACC title again. However, to get back into the playoffs, the offense needs to improve.”
Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M Aggies round out the top 5.
The Nov. 5 road trip opponent, Notre Dame, is No. 7 on the list.
“Marcus Freeman is entering one of the best situations for any first-year coach, as the Fighting Irish bring back 14 starters and have won double-digit games in each of the last five seasons,” Lassan said.
The ACC’s second-highest-ranked team is NC State at No. 12, with Wake Forest not too far behind (No. 16) and Coastal Division reps Miami (20) and Pittsburgh (23) also ranking among the first 25.
Clemson opens its season at Georgia Tech on Sept. 5 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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