Clemson ranked No. 1 by 2019 power ranking projection

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Clemson ranked No. 1 by 2019 power ranking projection

Clemson football is an undoubted favorite among analytic projections again.

ESPN's Football Power Index ranked Dabo Swinney's Tigers No. 1 preseason for a second-straight year. The same site gives Clemson the best odds by-far to win it all (36 percent; 27 for Alabama). And Pro Football Focus released its first preseason power rankings and Clemson comes out on top there as well.

Their Elo algorithm has an SEC-heavy top-four of Clemson then Alabama, LSU and Georgia, followed by Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, Washington and Iowa.

"While a spring injury to Amari Rodgers was a big blow to the defending champions, Clemson still has the incomparable Trevor Lawrence and a great stable of receivers that includes Justyn Ross," PFF analyzed. "His 4.98 yards per route run average was the best of any qualifying wide receiver a season ago, and he should only get better with Lawrence, who boasted a 24-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio when kept clean as a true freshman. Some regression is likely to be in order for Lawrence and company, but the underlying process is still likely good enough to roll through the ACC again and vie for a repeat in 2019."

What separates Clemson and Alabama goes back to what kind of numbers the Tigers posted in the national championship game, with Lawrence connecting on 20-of-32 throws for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

"Their (Alabama's) coverage was exposed in the National Championship Game, however, surrendering over 16 yards per pass attempt when they blitzed Clemson freshman Trevor Lawrence for a passer rating above 145.0," PFF analyzed. "They will need to properly reload in this area if they want to be the favorite to win the title, as that distinction is now the Tigers’."

Other scheduled and potential 2019 opponents on the power ranking include Texas A&M (14), Syracuse (16) and Virginia (20).

Clemson had a nation-leading seven of PFF's top-101 players in college football last season with Christian Wilkins (3), Trevor Lawrence (5), Dexter Lawrence (31), Travis Etienne (35), Ross (39), Clelin Ferrell (80) and Isaiah Simmons (98).

Clemson has never been a preseason No. 1 in the traditional top 25 rankings.

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