By many measures, the 2012 season was one of the most successful campaigns ever posted by the Clemson Tigers. Dabo Swinney's club won 11 games for only the fourth time in school history, posted seven ACC wins (which tied a school best), had six first-team All-ACC players (a single-season high for the program), ran its consecutive home win mark to 13 (most ever for the Tigers) and set 101 team/individual offensive statistical records.
For all of those achievements, however, last year had to, in some ways, feel like a letdown. The Tigers did not win their division and thus did not get a chance to play for a second consecutive ACC championship. They also lost to the South Carolina Gamecocks for a fourth straight year, something that has not happened since 1954.
Clemson is losing four of its first-team All-ACC players (wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, running back Andre Ellington, center Dalton Freeman and tight end Brandon Ford) and five other players out of its starting 22, so it might seem upon an initial review that the 2013 season won't allow the opportunity to match or exceed the pluses posted by last year's squad.
When one reads between the metric and scouting lines, though, it is clear that an ACC title and putting an end to the dreaded in-state rival losing streak are two very reachable goals. In fact, there may even be a path to a BCS championship for Clemson this season.