No surprise, Clemson one of the teams to beat in 2020

No surprise, Clemson one of the teams to beat in 2020

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No surprise, Clemson one of the teams to beat in 2020

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Clemson’s football team is ranked No. 3 according to the SP+ Preseason rankings released by ESPN’s Bill Connelly on Thursday.

According to Connelly, Alabama is ranked No. 1 based on returning protection, recent recruiting and recent history. Ohio State is ranked No. 2 on his list followed by the Tigers, Georgia at No. 4 and Penn State at No. 5.

Defending national champion LSU, who beat Clemson in the national championship game last month, is ranked No. 6. Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Texas A&M round out the top 10.

Notre Dame, who Clemson will play on Nov. 7 in South Bend, is ranked No. 12. North Carolina, the likely favorite to play the Tigers in the ACC Championship Game next December, is the next highest team from the ACC. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 17, followed by Miami at No. 23.

Clemson returns six starters on offense and six starters on defense in 2020, plus 34 letterman who played significantly on the two- and three-deep depth charts.

Already some college football news outlets in their way-too-early top 25 polls have the Tigers as their preseason No. 1 team heading into 2020. A lot of that has to do with the fact, Clemson returns quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, wide receiver Justyn Ross and wide receiver Amari Rodgers, plus all the other talent Dabo Swinney and his staff have brought to Clemson the last four years.

The Tigers are 69-5 since the start of the 2015 season, the best record of any team in the country. Clemson has won five straight ACC Championships, been to the College Football Playoff five years in a row, has played for the national championship four times and won it twice.

“Even after it fell to LSU, its first defeat in the past 30 games, Clemson is the team to beat in 2020,” ESPN wrote. “The Tigers bring back Lawrence for a third season, along with receivers Justyn Ross and Amari Rodgers… Clemson will have to replace four starting offensive linemen and both its starting safeties…Clemson is still far more talented than any other team in the ACC.”

Clemson will start spring practice on Feb. 26.

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