NCAA

Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s Championship Hopes Just Took a Huge Hit

Dabo Swinney has transformed Clemson into a mini dynasty over the past few years. The Tigers have reached four of the last five national championships, and they won two titles over the same span. Clemson has been as much of a sure thing to make the College Football Playoff as any team in the country recently, including Alabama.

They have a ton of talent, sure, but the ACC doesn’t offer much resistance. That just changed ahead of the 2020 season, and Swinney will have a much tougher time leading the Tigers back to the College Football Playoff.

Clemson has been the most dominant college football team over the last five years

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Alabama carries the title of college football dynasty over the past decade or so, but Clemson has actually been more dominant than the Crimson Tide as of late.

The Tigers have reached five College Football Playoffs in a row and have won two national titles in the last four years. Both times, they beat big, bad Bama. Clemson has also won five consecutive ACC title games, winning by an average of 25.4 points per game.

There just isn’t enough parity in the conference right now. Clemson beat Virginia by a whopping 45 points last year in the ACC title game, but the Tigers will have a much stronger challenger in the 2020 season.

Notre Dame is joining the ACC for the 2020 season

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With the 2020 college football season still up in the air amid the COVID-19 pandemic, conferences across the country are making drastic changes to their schedules.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already adopted a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the upcoming season. That way, the conferences can cut down on travel and minimize risk. The ACC is also making a change, as it announced Wednesday teams will play 10 conference games and one non-conference game in 2020.

The ACC also announced a major addition to the conference — Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have operated as an independent team with no conference affiliation since the start of the program, but they’ll be joining the ACC for the upcoming season.

The catch? Notre Dame will also be eligible to compete in the conference championship game. Their full schedule hasn’t been released yet, but they immediately become the No. 1 contender to Clemson for the ACC crown.

Notre Dame will be Clemson’s stiffest ACC competition in five years

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Over the past five years, Clemson has bulldozed over ACC competition with relative ease. The Tigers have only lost two conference games since 2016, and they’ve dominated the ACC championship game in the same span.

According to Fox Bet, Clemson was a -500 favorite to repeat as conference champions in 2020, but Notre Dame’s arrival should worry Dabo Swinney’s crew. Since the announcement, Clemson has dropped to a -300 favorite to take home the ACC crown.

The Fighting Irish enter 2020 with three straight double-digit-win seasons. They even reached the College Football Playoff in 2018. If Notre Dame can find their way into the title game, Clemson will face their toughest ACC roadblock in five years.

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All stats courtesy of Football Reference