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Are the Clemson Tigers a Good Bet to Win the 2021-22 College Football Playoff?

By Dan Vasta in College Football
| August 30, 2021 6:06 am PDT

Dabo Swinney has gotten over the hump for the Clemson Tigers, a program that was desperately searching for national championships a decade ago.

They were often a solid program but fell short of winning conference and national titles in the BCS era.

The College Football Playoff era has been a blessing for the folks down at Death Valley. The Tigers from the ACC have flexed their muscles and have made it in every playoff since year two when Florida State slowly fell apart. Clemson has done well in January, and they will be looking for their third national title under Swinney.

Star quarterbacks have come and gone, and the program has a new one ready to take the nation by storm. The number of star-studded recruits has helped them stay afloat in the title race, and many believe 2021-22 will be no different.

It is time to discuss whether the Clemson Tigers are a good bet to win the 2021-22 College Football Playoff. To gauge that, let’s look at Clemon’s title odds and why they will or won’t win the national championship.

Clemson’s College Football Playoff Odds for 2021-22

Clemson Tigers Logo

The opportunity to get in on Clemson as a title threat is dwindling as the season gets underway.

There isn’t much value other than MyBookie and Sportsbetting.ag due to their preseason expectations. The odds could change after their showdown with Georgia in the season opener, of course.

The expectations will be high, and many are excited to see the new wave of talent. So, are the Clemson Tigers going to get back to winning national titles this season?

Let’s break down their 2021-22 title chances from both sides to figure out if they’re a good bet this season.

Why Clemson Will Win the CFP

If and when they lose to Georgia in the opener, the odds will change drastically. Most will be off the bandwagon, and some will question if the Tigers’ relevance is over with Trevor Lawrence.

Opening weekend reactions are a thing in college football, but there is value to be had.

Stay patient and weigh all your options before placing a bet. With that in mind, here are your top reasons why the Tigers will win the national title in 2021-22.

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney

The Tigers head coach is 18-3 when atop the AP Poll, and there is a chance they could have several more opportunities.

Swinney has pulled off some remarkable accomplishments. Before Dabo arrived, Clemson had only won double-digit games on eight occasions. They currently have ten in a row.

The program has also finished their seasons in the final top 4 (AP/Coaches) the last six seasons.

Florida State has the record, with 14 straight accomplished seasons (1987-2000). That record seems out of reach, and yet Clemson keeps dominating the ACC. They are looking for their seventh conference crown in a row.

Nobody looks like they can stop Clemson, and Dabo deserves all the love.

He turned the program from an above-average group to an elite one at a rapid pace. 2011 was the last season in which the program finished outside the top 15. It was after their debacle to West Virginia in a humbling Orange Bowl defeat.

Dabo followed the next season up with an 11-2 season and a No. 11 finish after their dramatic comeback victory over LSU in the Peach Bowl. The team has won some barnburners, and they have benefited from their energetic head ball coach.

Defense Wins Championships

Dabo does deserve all the love in the world for what he has accomplished, but they have an elite defensive coach on their staff.

Brent Venables has dominated the landscape of college football for many years. He had success with Oklahoma before coming to Clemson, and the experience he has gained in the biggest of games has been an advantage for the Tigers.

Look at the number of stars that have taken their talents to the NFL in the past three seasons.

  • 9 players drafted
  • 5 first rounders
  • 2 top-10 picks

The 2019 squad had a dominant defensive line, and many believe this upcoming defensive front will be just as great. Determining who is the best of the bunch could be the challenging part. Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy, Tyler Davis, Justin Foster, and Xavier Thomas could become future early-round selections.

Venables is the underrated ingredient that hasn’t received quite the national-level credit. Many thought he would leave to become a head coach, but he has had so much success as a defensive coordinator with Clemson.

The numbers don’t lie, and many suggest this will be one of their better defenses in 2021.

  • 2020 Scoring Defense (FBS Rank): 20.2 PPG (No. 18)
  • 2019: 13.5 (No. 3)
  • 2018: 13.1 (No. 1)
  • 2017: 13.6 (No. 2)
  • 2016: 18.0 (No. 10)

If the program competes for additional titles, then Venables and the defense will continue to dominate. James Skalski is one of the leaders, and he will need to stay on the field after getting ejected in their last two losses in the CFP for targeting calls.

Skalski is one of three senior graduates that will have pivotal roles on the team. They are all in the back seven, the one spot that the Tigers have shown weakness in their recent losses over the years to LSU and Ohio State.

Still, this team has been clutch in the majority of their playoff games.

Why Clemson Won’t Win the Title

The Tigers will be seeking their seventh appearance and third national title victory in the CFP era. The Tigers have been dominating the College Football Playoff for years, but the elite teams in the nation are getting better by the season.

Here are your top reasons why Clemson will fall short of a national title.

Life After Trevor and Travis

Finding players as productive and talented as Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne is a real challenge.

Lawrence was one of the better college signal-callers in the entire CFP era. Lawrence had a rocket for an arm and was able to deliver the ball with such ease. The long hair and underrated speed that he showed off against Ohio State two seasons ago were impressive.

The ability to win games was record-setting.

Posting a 34-2 career record at Clemson with losses to LSU in the national title and Ohio State in the semifinal won’t be duplicated.

Travis Etienne had devastating moves in the backfield in his time with Clemson. Once he reached the secondary, he turned into a blur in the open field. Getting a back like Etienne in space was vital for the success of the offense.

Where does the offense turn to this season? The defense shouldn’t have to bail them out all the time because eventually, they will disappoint(see Ohio State). The talent is there, but a lot of familiar faces are now gone.

ACC Schedule

The ACC schedule is weak compared to most other title contenders this season. There are only a few Top 40 squads on the schedule for Clemson this upcoming season.

Many believe an opening loss could put the program on the outside looking in.

Teams like Alabama, Texas A&M, and Ohio State have challenging non-conference and divisional slates.

The SEC West and Big Ten East are likely the top divisions in the nation this season.

The ACC Atlantic is a middle-of-the-road type of division on a good day. Boston College and NC State could win 8-10 ball games, but the ACC has lacked consistency since Florida State has become average the past three seasons (putting it lightly).

If Clemson were to lose to Georgia in the opener, buckle up. Finding a realistic-looking path to get back into the CFP picture without other teams losing multiple games may not be possible.

The committee will need to see Clemson continue dominating the opposition, or else a one-loss power five champion will likely miss the party yet again.

Are the Clemson Tigers a Good Bet in 2021-22?

The million-dollar question remains one of the better topics of the season. Talk to me after their opener in Charlotte against Georgia.

It would be in their best interest to beat Georgia and avoid sweating out the rest of the season. Win or lose that game, Clemson should try running the table. There has never been a two-loss program to make the playoff in the four-team era, and I don’t foresee one happening this season.

Especially not with the current resume that Clemson will bring to the table by December. They will need several things to go their way to make the playoff. The likes of North Carolina or Miami will need to be a Top 10 type of team at 11-1 when they meet up in the ACC title.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Tigers prove all the naysayers wrong, but this is not the team I want to wager on this season.

If they manage to get by Georgia, their odds won’t shorten much. If they lose, the odds will start to drop like hotcakes.

I would suggest waiting until their opener is complete, but I would still take a pass. The value is respectable currently, but this is a trap bet due to their prior success. I have much more faith in other teams winning the national title this season (Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State).

See where other NCAAF teams stand heading into the 2021-22 season.



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