Can Clemson Football repeat?

The Clemson Tigers are on a roll.  In 2016, they lost a 45-40 heartbreaker to Alabama and fell short of their goal of winning a National Championship.  They made good on it last year, however,  as the Tigers erased a 14-7 halftime deficit to beat Alabama 35-31 for the school’s first National Championship in 35 years.  By any metric, the Tigers have had a good run but they’re insisting that they won’t fall victim to the loss of key players and the weight of history—they’re planning to defend their National Championship.
If Clemson is able to reach the 2018 National Championship game it will be their third consecutive appearance.  Going back-to-back-to-back to the National Championship game has only been done once during the BCS era.  ACC rivals Florida State did it in the first three years of the BCS when the #1 and #2 teams first played each other to determine the National Championship (1998-2000).  There’s been some dominant teams since then—not the least of which are Nick Saban’s Alabama teams that have won four National Championships since 2007.  The Crimson Tide went ‘back to back’ in 2010 and 2011 but not even they were able to ‘three-peat’ with three consecutive title game appearances.
Historical precedent might be the least of Clemson’s challenges.  The Tigers lost a ridiculous amount of talent in the recently completed NFL Draft.  Star quarterback Deshaun Watson might be the toughest player to replace after he was drafted #12 overall by the Houston Texans.  He wasn’t the first Tiger player selected, however, as wide receiver Mike Williams went #7 to the Los Angeles Chargers.  Four other Clemson players went in the draft and a number of others have already signed free agent contracts.  The most significant of these is All American linebacker Ben Boulware who was the defensive MVP of the National Championship game.  He won’t be far from home as he’s signed with the Carolina Panthers. 
The Clemson program has seen 15 of their players drafted to the NFL in the last two years.  This represents the most Tiger players to be selected by NFL teams since Danny Ford’s 1983 and 1984 Clemson teams sent 16 players to the pros.   2017 also gave Clemson six selections within the top 150 draft spots for the first time since 1991.   Additionally, it’s the ninth straight year Clemson has had at least four players selected in the NFL draft.   No ACC team has done better since Florida State went 10 straight years with four or more players drafted (1992-2001).
The Clemson Tigers’ mantra for the 2018 season is ‘Why not us?’.  Their optimism is commendable but the answer to this question will likely be ‘history and losing too much talent’. Sports betting odds released by aren’t nearly as enthusiastic as the Clemson players as they’ve installed the Tigers as the #10 choice in college football National Championship futures betting odds priced at +3300.  Alabama is the top choice at +360 followed by Ohio State (+750), Florida State (+775), USC (+775) and Oklahoma (+1000).