Can Clemson get to Atlanta without Watson?

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Is it possible for a team to make it to three consecutive national championship game?

Yes, however it is not likely.

In fact, only once since the BCS era, Florida State in the first three years of its existence (1998-2000), has it been accomplished and that is including the Nick Saban dynasty that he has built at Alabama.

Only once.

Needless to say, history is not on the side of the 2017 Clemson Tigers–who are hoping to become the first team, along with Alabama, to accomplish that feat since the Seminoles nearly 20 years ago.

The Tigers made it to back-to-back national championship games riding the arm (and legs) of arguably the greatest quarterback to ever don a Tiger uniform. In fact, many in the media community (and fans alike) believed that with Watson leaving after last season that the 2017 season would be the Tigers’ best chance to win a title.

But with Watson now riding off into the sunset of the NFL, the question now becomes: Can the Tigers make it back for a nearly unprecedented third time without him?

If the Tigers learned anything from the Crimson Tide last season, the answer is yes. Yes you can make it to the national title game with a first-year starter at quarterback.

Now, the Tide did so on the back of a redshirt freshman, which the Tigers have in Zerrick Cooper and a true freshman Hunter Johnson and a Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel and, incoming freshman, Chase Brice (obviously the Tigers have recruited at a high level)–all of whom are more than serviceable, but they also did it behind play-calling that was fit to the quarterback

Lane Kiffin was not good at a lot of things, but one thing he was good at was not putting his quarterback in bad spots. The play-calling was just what the Crimson Tide needed last season– it was easy reads, quick passes and play-action.

If the Tigers are to find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot again, it will be because the coaching staff figured out a way to simplify the game for these incredibly talented, but incredibly inexperienced quarterbacks–which you have begun to see.

With a schedule, that if the Tigers can get through the month of September, that is very manageable and the showdown with Florida State at home and in the middle of November (giving whoever emerges from the quarterback battle a chance to mature through the season), and a defense that should give the most potent offenses nightmares (see Ohio State)–chances are better than most that the Tigers can make it to the playoffs without a No. 4 in the backfield.

And once you get to the playoffs, you have a chance.

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