With a win in the 2019 ACC Championship, the Clemson Tigers will have earned their fifth straight conference championship and likely fifth straight playoff appearance. However, they will have their share of challenges as the Virginia Cavaliers are building a talented roster that should not be overlooked.
From a football perspective, the Clemson Tigers have been the class of the ACC for years. Over time, there have been a few teams that could have been legit challengers to Clemson but that never materialized. This year, the up and coming Virginia Cavaliers will attempt to not only pull the upset but build off what they have done this season to position themselves as a consistent top ACC contender. The biggest unknown, yet intriguing matchup, is how Clemson plays Isaiah Simmons. Does he primarily play as a spy for Bryce Perkins? Is he used a split safety and linebacker depending on the score, down, and/or personnel? Regardless, Simmons’ name will be stated a lot throughout the game.
Bronco Mendenhall is building something exciting in Virginia and it is in large part due to the success Perkins. The key for Virginia to win is to contain Clemson in all three facets of the game. When the Cavs are on offense, everything rides on Perkins’ shoulders. If he does not have a good game, their defense must step up. Perkins is an underrated quarterback prospect who has put up some impressive numbers thus far, most notably passing over 2,900 yards and rushing for over 600 yards. Clemson cannot afford to fall asleep and let Perkins make plays on the ground. While that is great, will his skill set be enough to overcome a talented Clemson defense? That will go a long way in determining who gets the win.
The Tigers have NFL prospects all over the field that will be making an impact from the get-go. Simmons is Clemson’s best defensive player and arguably their best player overall. No matter where he lines up he can make plays. Virginia needs to make it a priority to limit what Perkins is able to do and to achieve that, Simmons’ contribution should help with that. Offensively, Trevor Lawrence leads the way. He had some growing pains this season but the star quarterback can make every throw and combined with his ability to go through his progressions, Lawrence is in a position to have a big day. Let’s not forget two notable players who will significantly impact how well Lawrence actually does in Travis Etienne and Tee Higgins. Both players are viewed as top-six players at their respective positions by many. There is a lot to like on both sides of the ball for Clemson.
Perkins is a talented quarterback who will keep Virginia somewhat in the game early on. That said, Clemson continues to have success for a reason. They are a powerhouse and will win the 2019 ACC Championship. Clemson heads back to the college football playoffs after defeating Virginia thanks to Lawrence’s three touchdown passes.
Score Prediction: 42-21