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Tiger Trap: Potential Trap Games for the Tiger Football Team

We all know that the hype for this football season can’t get any bigger. The players, coaches and fan base are all ready to pursue the national title they just barely missed out on in January. Once again, Dabo’s boys will

be favored to win most of the games on their schedule, coupled with some clear challenges along the way. 

Florida State in Tallahassee? Biggest challenge. Louisville at home? Looking like a hard battle already. Even the season finale against an (at best) middling South Carolina team should be taken seriously, as the rivalry game that it is. Conversely, there will be the annual pushover games, with honors for easiest wins this year going to South Carolina State and Troy. But aside from those obvious sticking points, there are a few teams that could cause the Tigers some unexpected fits.

The first game that has “trap” written all over it is none other than the opener against Auburn. Perhaps a season opener at an SEC school is hard to overlook, but the other Tiger team is coming off of an underachieving year and is largely unproven. Auburn will be ringing in a new defensive scheme under former Clemson coordinator Kevin Steele and is not certain at the quarterback position, but few teams get out of Jordan-Hare without a hard fight, and Gus Malzahn’s team has had this game on their mind for months.

Next, let’s go four weeks into the schedule with a Thursday night matchup at Georgia Tech. While the Tigers squashed the Yellow Jackets last year in Death Valley, no Clemson football team has won in Bobby Dodd stadium in over a decade. The Jackets’ infamous triple option can give even the best defenses a headache, and could be an early test for Brent Venables’ unit. 

Nevertheless, Deshaun Watson and co. have what it takes to outgun the ramblin’ wreck and can pull away with this game if they shake off the Tigers’ recent bad luck in Atlanta.

It isn’t that surprising that the Tigers’ biggest traps will come on the road, but it begs the question: will there be any under the radar threats coming to Death Valley? 

Enter Pittsburgh. The Panthers bring back 16 starters from a 2015 team that won eight games and was the early leader in the ACC Coastal Division. While star wideout Tyler Boyd must be replaced, the Panthers will still have the tools needed to contend once again. Quarterback Nathan Peterman and safety Jordan Whitehead will serve as team leaders, and former ACC Player of the Year James Conner is finally returning after tearing his MCL and fighting a hard battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over the past year. 

This Pitt team has yet to reach its ceiling, and may be fueled by veteran leadership and Conner’s uplifting comeback from an absolutely terrible year. If the Panthers get off to a good start once again this year, look for a big challenge in Death Valley.

This year’s Tiger football team doesn’t have the element of surprise anymore. They’re near the top of every poll and many analysts are anticipating a repeat of 2015. There’s a bigger target on the team’s back and Clemson’s opponents will be more eager to strike for it this year. 

So while the Florida State or Louisville matchups appear the most critical, beware the sleeper teams as well.


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