Key stretch: Georgia Tech, at Boston College, NC State, at Florida State (Oct. 23-Nov. 13)
Analysis: It all starts with the Jackets, the program that defeated Clemson twice in the same season last year, including for the ACC title. A redemption win at home would be huge for momentum heading into a three-game swing against some of the toughest competition in the Atlantic Division. Clemson handled all three of those opponents easily last year, but odds are BC racks up more than 54 yards of total offense this time around. (That number was so astounding I’ve never had to look it up.) It will be up to Clemson’s defense to lead the way, especially against Florida State, Georgia Tech and NC State.
Prediction: Will Clemson really cave a third straight time to Georgia Tech, this time in front of a home crowd? Not if the defense has anything to say about it. This should be another game that’s decided in the fourth quarter, and right now I give the Tigers the edge because of the redemption factor, defense, and home field advantage. I’ll also make them the early pick against NC State because Clemson has more answers right now, despite the differences at quarterback. As for the two road trips? BC is a tough team to beat in Chestnut Hill, and expectations are much higher for Florida State this fall. If the Seminoles are going to leapfrog Clemson in the Atlantic Division standings this year, they have to win that game in Tally and I think they will. I’ll predict a 2-2 record in this stretch.
More key stretches: