Winning 10 games and a bowl is usually considered a strong year for most college football programs, but for Clemson that’s part of the face from recent times.
Under the direction of Dabo Swinney, the Tigers made the College Football Playoff six consecutive times through 2021, and won two national championships, both against Alabama, the dynasty of the 21st century, including remains Nick Saban’s worst loss.
But injuries to an elite defensive unit and subpar play from 5-star quarterback DJ Uiagalelei added up to a down year for this team.
What does the 2022 football season have in store? Recently, the ESPN college football power index prediction machine crunched the numbers for every game on this slate.
Game 1 vs. Georgia Tech. The Wreck lost lead back Jahmyr Gibbs to Alabama as a transfer, throwing this offense almost completely off track. Jeff Sims is back at quarterback after passing for 12 TDs and seven picks, but doesn’t have a ton to work with around him moving the ball on the ACC’s third-worst scoring unit. The chance to win FPI: 94.3%
Game 2 vs. Furman. Not much to worry about here for Clemson in Week 2 against a team that finished fifth in the Southern Conference a year ago behind a 6-5 mark and was handled by NC State in an ACC matchup last year. fall The chance to win FPI: 99.4%
Game 3 vs. Louisiana Tech. Don’t worry for Week 3 against a Bulldogs team working under a new coach after firing Skip Holtz and coming off a three-win season in Conference USA. But last season Mississippi State also played close to a one-point loss on the road, and lost by just seven on the road against NC State. The chance to win FPI: 97.7%
Game 4 at Wake Forest. Nine starters from the 11th-ranked offense in college football return, including quarterback Sam Hartman, a 4,200-yard passer with 39 touchdowns in 2021. Clemson gives the Deacs their worst loss a year ago, and will have to do some work against a Wake D that placed 91st overall last season. The chance to win FPI: 79.2%
Game 5 against NC State. Four points kept the Wolfpack from going undefeated in ACC play, including a win over No. 9 Clemson with losses to Miami and Wake. Ten defensive starters ranked No. 3 in the ACC last fall returns for a reunion in 2022, as does quarterback Devin Leary, a 3,400-yard passer in 2021 with 35 touchdowns against three picks. The chance to win FPI: 87.4%
Game 6 at Boston College. BC gets more than a half-dozen starters back on defense, a unit ranked No. 4 in the ACC in 2021, and essentially brings back quarterback Phil Jurkovec after the Eagles’ offense ranked worst in the conference in yards and fourth worst in points. . The chance to win FPI: 90.0%
Game 7 at Florida State. See how quarterback Jordan Travis has fared this season after a 5-game stretch in which he didn’t get picked: the Noles went 4-1 in those games and Travis scored 13 all-purpose TDs. Now he’s playing behind a great offensive line, too. The chance to win FPI: 80.1%
Game 8 vs. Syracuse. It was the fourth-worst total offense in the ACC and amassed less than 150 yards per game in the conference, a trend that resulted in the Orange winning just 15 games in 50 league games under Dino Babers. The chance to win FPI: 95.2%
Game 9 at Notre Dame. The last time Clemson ventured north, it lost as the No. 1 team in the country (before avenging that loss in the ACC title game). DJ Uiagalelei accounted for three total TDs and 439 yards passing in that game, his only loss of 2020. How well the QB plays coming into this one will help determine if the rematch has any impact. in the College Football Playoffs. The chance to win FPI: 60.0%
Game 10 vs. Louisville. Getting quarterback Malik Cunningham back on the field in 2022 is a huge positive for the Cardinals. He was a 62% passer a year ago, passing for 2,734 yards and 18 touchdowns to just six interceptions, while also rushing for 968 yards and 19 touchdowns, which is now sixth most national. The chance to win FPI: 90.3%
Game 11 against Miami. Just eight points kept the Hurricanes from a perfect record in the ACC games and, although the school brought in a new coaching staff, it returned a potential star in quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and has real speed on the defensive back end. The chance to win FPI: 80.0%
Game 12 against South Carolina. Oklahoma quarterback transfer Spencer Rattler — a Heisman favorite heading into 2021 — leads this group right now and he has fellow Sooner transfer Austin Stogner at tight end. But Clemson’s front line group should still have a decided advantage lining up against a Gamecocks offensive defense that coughed up 31 sacks last fall. The chance to win FPI: 92.2%
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