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Seven months after Clemson thrashed Alabama to win a second national championship in three years, the Tigers get their title defense underway at home against Georgia Tech.
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Dabo Swinney’s team became the first team in the history of the playoffs era to go 15–0 last season and is the bookmakers’ favorite to win back-to-back titles.
It is hard to disagree with the prediction, given Clemson, the No 1-ranked team in The Associated Press poll, has retained the core of its championship team.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is back and, in Travis Etienne, Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, Swinney has some frightening offensive options at his disposal.
Lawrence was named the Offensive MVP of the National Championship and Cotton Bowl games and is a joint favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, alongside Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
“I just try to enjoy everything,” Lawrence told USA Today.
“I’m really hard on myself as far as on the field, just […] knowing I’m not going to be perfect and just enjoying the moment and everything with those guys [his teammates].”
On the other side of the ball, the Tigers’ defense has lost some pivotal figures, but defensive coordinator Brent Venables can still count on key players such as Isaiah Simmons.
The Tigers’ four defensive linemen and two of their linebackers are new starters, but Xavier Thomas, Logan Rudolph and Justin Foster have already caught the eye.