The 2010 season begins Tuesday as the Tigers practice for the first time. Today the TCI staff gives you their early predictions for the 2010 season. Many things can change during August, so these predictions will be updated just before the home opener against North Texas.
North Texas at Clemson
Lee: Clemson will start off its season in Memorial Stadium again this season, and again it will be against a much lesser opponent in the Mean Green of North Texas. The two teams have never faced off before, and after this game the Mean Green will hope that they don’t have to face the Tigers again for a long time. We will see Clemson’s defense look to make a mark, literally, on their first opponent of the year, and they will do so. Much to everyone’s surprise, it will be dominant play of Clemson’s young linebackers that will lead the way for the defense too. On top of that, look for Mr. Boyd to get some lengthy playing time, and throw for two touchdowns in the final two quarters.
Trey: Clemson opens with a Sun Belt team for the second consecutive year and should win its seventh home opener in a row. North Texas is coming off a 2-10 season, has a new offensive coordinator, and inexperience at quarterback. Clemson should pull away easily in the second half and look for some young guys to get some playing time.
Gray: There are too many uncertainties within the Mean Green program heading into this season, most notably at quarterback. Their defense allowed almost 500 yards a game last season, most of which were on the ground. It’s safe to assume that Clemson will primarily seek to establish and maintain its run game throughout this one. I don’t see it being close.
North Texas – W (1-0)
Robert: Clemson couldn’t pick a better way to open the season for the young players. Parker will find some playmakers at receiver and the Tigers will roll by 40 or more in this contest. Boyd gets his first playing time as a Tiger. Ellington and Harper both rush for 100.
Presbyterian at Clemson
Lee: The coming out party for the much talked about Tiger defense will continue in this one, and every part will be hitting on all cylinders. This game will see more of the Boyd show, but only after starter Kyle Parker throws for 200 plus yards and leaves with the team well in control. One other note here, Dwayne Allen will have his coming out party in this game, much due to Boyd getting more playing time.
Trey: This has been called one of the biggest mismatches of the season. Presbyterian, coming off an 0-11 season, and this game is more about the experience the Blue Hose players will get from playing in Death Valley than the outcome. Look for the Tiger offense to score early and often while the young guys continue to get playing time.
Gray: I’m generous to give Presbyterian a touchdown. Last season the Blue Hose offense ranked at the bottom of the Big South in almost every category. Against a strong Clemson defense, I don’t see them scoring until late in the game when the third stringers are playing for the Tigers. The Clemson offense, in the meantime, will have a field day against a defense that gave up plenty of scores a year ago.
Robert: Tajh Boyd will get plenty of playing time in this one. Expect Clemson to score 60 plus and play the entire team in this blowout.
Clemson at Auburn
Lee: The Tigers (real ones) will come into this match-up looking to prove something. Anyone remember the last time Clemson played a team from Alabama early in the season? You can bet that Coach Swinney remembers, and you can bet that he will make sure that the Tigers are ready to play in this one. After a defensive struggle for three quarters, Clemson will take a fourth quarter lead and hold it.
Trey: This was an EXTREMELY tough call for me as I can see this game going either way. I give Auburn the edge only because it is a home night game. The return of Kyle Parker makes this game a little easier for the (Clemson) Tigers, but in the end I expect Auburn to pull out a close fourth-quarter game decided by no more than a touchdown.
Gray: This will be Clemson’s first real test in 2010, and I think it will be one they will lose. This has the makings to be a great defensive battle and ultimately, given home field advantage and Clemson’s lack of experience at wide receiver, I think Auburn will do enough offensively to get the W.
Robert: Can the Tigers go on the road and win in the SEC? Sure they can. It won’t be easy, but this team has the talent and experienced quarterback with Parker back to get the job done. Kyle’s last trip to Auburn will be one he never forgets as he hit his 20th homerun and was drafted in the first round as the Tigers won the final game to advance to the Super Regionals. The Auburn defense will be improved, but not enough to shutdown Parker and the Tigers. Clemson escapes with a win.
Miami at Clemson
Lee: After last years meeting, the Tigers really won’t feel like they can’t win this one. Coming in off of a win over Auburn, Tiger players will be jacked and so will the fans in Death Valley. Clemson will win this one, and do so fairly easily due to the Hurricanes still having issues on defense. Da’Quan Bowers will have his coming out party in this game, facing what was one of the worst teams last year in terms of sacks allowed.
Trey: This may be one of my more shocking predictions, as Miami (FL) will be looking for revenge from last season. I have to give Clemson the edge on Homecoming and coming off an open date. The Valley will be loud and don’t be shocked if this is yet another overtime thriller between the two teams.
Gray: Homecoming in Clemson is usually against a lighter opponent than this year’s Miami team. Regardless, I think the Tigers will come out ready to win, especially coming off a loss to Auburn. Much like the 2009 Miami-Clemson game, I expect this one to be high scoring, with Kyle Parker out-playing Jacory Harris for the win.
Robert: Will this be another overtime thriller between the Tigers and the Canes. Clemson’s defense will be the key for the Tigers and will feed off the crowd to keep the Canes in the 20’s. That won’t be enough as Parker leads the offense to 30 points or more. The Tigers beat the Canes for the second year in a row, no overtime needed.
Clemson at UNC
Lee: All of the preseason hype surrounding UNC was just that, in my opinion, hype. Factor in the looming NCAA investigation and the pending loss of star players, and this North Carolina team will falter this season. Even the investigation only involves one or two players, the cloud hovering over will impact the team, and that is a bonus for Clemson fans. Without that fact, I might have picked this one differently.
Trey: A couple of weeks ago, I would have picked the Tar Heels here. However, with everything going on in Chapel Hill, I just feel like this is a game Clemson can win. It is also the third straight “toss up” game for the Tigers and is they can come through the stretch 2-1 or better, this could be a special season.
Gray: The Tar Heel defense is good, but I think the experienced offensive line at Clemson will hold defenders like Robert Quinn at bay. The North Carolina offense was shaky throughout last season under quarterback TJ Yates. He should be better this season, but I don’t think it will show against Clemson’s dominant D.
Robert: Most people think the NCAA investigation will be a distraction for the Heels, but it could actually help motivate this team. With one of the top defenses in the nation, even without Austin, the Heels will be tough to score on at the Hill. North Carolina’s offense is streaky and play much better at home. Clemson will battle the Heels for four quarters, but expect North Carolina to shut down the Tiger offense and come away with the victory.
North Carolina (4-1)
Maryland at Clemson
Lee: I think Clemson players are just as tired of the Terrapins as Clemson fans are. This game will be another notch in the belt to retire Ralph Friedgen from Terpville, and the Tigers will handle them easily. Despite this year being an improvement on recent years for Maryland, Clemson rolls.
Trey: The Terps will be coming off an open date, but I think last year’s game in College Park should be all the motivation the Tigers need. Maryland will be improved from last year and Clemson will be coming off a couple of emotional games. In the end, Clemson’s defense will take over and the Tigers will fight off the pesky Terps.
Gray: After an embarrassing loss in College Park a year ago, you better believe the Tigers will be seeking revenge in this one. Maryland has been on a slide the last few years and I think that trend will continue into this season. I think Clemson will dominate all aspects of this game.
Robert: The Terps won’t catch Clemson napping this year. The Tigers will have revenge on their mind when Maryland comes to town. This one won’t be close. Expect a beat down from the Tigers.
Georgia Tech at Clemson
Lee: Talk about thorns in the side of Clemson football, and you can’t help but think Georgia Tech. This will be the game that decides how Clemson fans see defensive coordinator Kevin Steele this season, and perhaps for a long time. While I don’t really think it is fair to judge a defense on a game where they are facing an offense like Georgia Tech’s, I don’t think it will be an issue this season at all. Coach Steele has seen it before, and so has this Tiger defensive unit. This game will be closer than my predicted score, but the Tigers prevail, and set up even more momentum on their way to the ACC Championship showdown.
Trey: This is VERY difficult for me to pick the Yellow Jackets, but until the defense can prove it can consistently stop the option it is hard to pick against the defending ACC champs. Both of last year’s games were thrillers right down to the wire and I would expect this season to be no different. If the defense can slow down the option, this is clearly a game the Tigers can win at home.
Georgia Tech (5-2)
Gray: Until the Tigers’ receivers prove that they can make plays, teams will continue to stack the box to stop the run. Unfortunately for Clemson, Georgia Tech’s defense faces the run over and over again every day in practice. I think it will be close, but I think at this point in the season Clemson’s passing game will still be too shaky to pull out a win. Besides, there always seems to be that one game in the ACC that Clemson could’ve, should’ve won, but still lost. This will be that game.
Georgia Tech (5-2)
Robert: In the third time the charm. Last year the Tigers struggled to stop the Jackets offense for six quarters, only shutting them down in the second half at Atlanta. The Jackets lost their main weapon in the passing game to the NFL. The Jackets won’t be able to stop Clemson’s offense in the Valley and the defense will feed off the crowd to do enough for the Tigers to finally beat the Jackets.
Clemson at Boston College
Lee: Oh no, it’s those hard-nosed guys from Boston, and it is being played at their house. In the past, that would be enough to scare any Clemson fan, and make some even pencil in a sure loss. It shouldn’t this season. This will no doubt be one of the more physical teams that Clemson faces all year, as is always, but this time the Tigers ride that wave of momentum right in and ride out even higher.
Trey: In what is quickly becoming one of the better ACC rivalries, I think the Tigers will sneak out a win in Chestnut Hill. Alumni Stadium is a tough place to play and you can count on the Eagles to be tough to beat at home. But in what is quickly becoming a common trend for this season, I think Clemson’s defense will again do just enough to pull out a win.
Gray: Boston College’s team looks almost identical to last year’s, which Clemson beat badly in the rain in Death Valley in 2009. The Eagles return Mark Herzlich, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year in the conference, but I don’t think he will be enough to stop Clemson’s run game. I think Clemson will return from Boston with a win.
Robert: This is a must win for the Tigers if they want to win the Atlantic Division. Boston College is very tough at home and they could surprise and battle for the Atlantic. Defense will be the key to the Tigers victory if they can shut down the Eagles because the Tigers will struggle to put points on the board against a solid defense. Expect the Tigers to do enough to escape with the victory.
NC State at Clemson
Lee: NC State. Russel Wilson. Kyle Parker. Come on? Surely you see the drama shaping up here? Wilson has been hyped up all preseason, and even signed with the Colorado Rockies, the same team that Kyle Parker is likely to sign with in the coming days, yet Parker hasn’t received quite the love of Wilson. Why is that? That question will be even harder to explain after this game, and it will start the chatter of Parker’s decision about the NFL draft too.
Trey: This game will be much closer than last season, but Parker and Co. will score enough points to run Clemson’s win streak to seven straight games over the Wolfpack. Tom O’Brien always has a team prepared so the Tigers can’t overlook this game with a big matchup in Tallahassee the next weekend. As long as Clemson stays focused, the Tigers set up a division title showdown the next weekend with Florida State.
Gray: NC State, much like Boston College, looks a lot like they did last year. Playing in Clemson, I don’t think they have much of a chance this season. There are too many strengths on the Tigers’ offense and defense that will put a win far out of reach for the Wolfpack.
Robert: This could be a trap game for the Tigers. Sandwiched between road games against Boston College and Florida State this game could catch the Tigers napping. Expect Kyle Parker to show that he is the much better quarterback against the hyped Wilson. The two could be teammates next year with the Rockies, but on this day Parker and the Tigers roll.
Clemson at Florida State
Lee: “We will, we will, ROCK YOU”. Remember this? You can bet that the Seminoles do, and you can bet that their fans do too. Florida State will be coming into this game at 8-1, and will be looking to make a statement. Riding high, the Tigers will give it their all but will fall short in this one, and will suffer their first loss of the season.
Florida State (9-1)
Trey: This will be a tough test for Clemson. Even though the Tigers have won five of the last seven games with the Seminoles, Mark Stoops will lead a much-improved defense in 2010 while the Seminole offense will continue to put up big numbers. In such a close battle, you have to go with the home team so I give Florida State a slight edge.
Florida State (7-3)
Gray: This is probably an unpopular choice, but I don’t think Clemson will stand a chance in Tallahassee this year. The Seminoles were absolutely embarrassed last season on national television against the Tigers. This year under new head coach Jimbo Fisher with Heisman candidate Christian Ponder leading the way on senior night, I think FSU will get their revenge.
Florida State (7-3)
Robert: The winner of this game is likely to win the Atlantic Division. In Dabo’s first trip to FSU the Tigers held an early lead before fading. The Noles return ten starters on offense including Heisman candidate Christian Ponder. Don’t be surprised if Parker has a better year than Ponder. The big question for the Noles is can the swiss cheese defense play better this year. My heart says Clemson, but I’ll have to go with the Noles in a close one.
Florida State (8-2)
Clemson at Wake Forest
Lee: The Tigers have won just one time since 2000 in Winston-Salem, ONE. That win, as all of you remember, was on the miracle play of Gaines Adams. This season, the Tigers make it two. Wake has some good players back, especially at receiver, but with questions at quarterback, the Tiger defense will handle this team just enough to let Parker and the offense take care of things.
Trey: Groves Stadium…A house of horrors for Clemson and its fans. The Tigers have lost three of their last four games in Winston-Salem, but without Riley Skinner Clemson should end that skid this season. Wake Forest also has some questions on its offensive line and Clemson could be playing for a second straight trip to the ACC Championship game.
Gray: There are too many question marks around Wake Forest this season, especially on offense. I think the Clemson defense will shut the Demon Deacons down in this game, while Kyle Parker leads the offense to several scores.
Robert: This game is a very tough call as the Tigers have nightmares about going to Groves Stadium. Skinner is finally gone from the Deacs and Parker will make the difference. Clemson will need to be able to stop Wake Forest’s misdirection running game to come away with the victory. The Tiger win a close one in Winston-Salem.
South Carolina at Clemson
Lee: Rivalry? Are the Gamecocks poised to make this series a rivalry again? While their fans might wish so, it isn’t going to happen this year. By the time these two teams meet up, Coach Spurrier will be playing musical quarterbacks again after suffering some tough losses, and it will benefit the Tigers more than ever. The Gamecocks will jump out early on their first two or three pre-scripted drives, but the Tiger defense will make the proper adjustments and then the running game of Clemson will take over late.
Trey: It is never easy to predict this game as you can throw out anything that has happened the rest of the season. After last year’s loss in Columbia, you can bet the Tigers will be ready to welcome the Gamecocks to Death Valley. The Tigers have not lost consecutive games to their archrivals since 1969-1970 so I see no need to mess with that streak. The defense is the difference again as Clemson gets to the nine win mark for the second straight season and third time in four years.
Gray: Coming off a year in which South Carolina embarrassed Clemson badly in Columbia, I think the Tigers will be ready for retribution. Carolina loses several good players on defense and quarterback Steven Garcia is yet to show he’s capable of being a legitimate offensive threat. I think this game will be close in the end, but Clemson will come out with a victory thanks to their defense.
Robert: Last year the Clemson staff and players got caught looking ahead to the ACC Championship Game which was understandable since it was Clemson’s first. This year the Tigers will be focused when the Cocks come to town. There is a lot of hype around South Carolina this summer. I’m not buying it and you shouldn’t either. Clemson rolls to a two touchdown win over Carolina.