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Clemson surprised everyone last season with its amazing 8-0 start.
The Tigers again surprised the nation by collapsing against what seemed to be an overmatched West Virginia team out of the overmatched Big East in the 2012 Orange Bowl.
But it's a new season, and the slates are wiped clean for everyone.
This year, however, Clemson won't be sneaking up on anyone, and the Tigers should be prepared to get the best effort from every team they face in 2012.
While it's not impossible for a sophomore to win the Heisman, it's still an unlikely prospect. That being said, Clemson's best hope for a major individual trophy in 2012 is sophomore wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
As a freshman, he showed an amazing ability not only to catch the ball, but to pick up extra yardage once he did.
His continued growth under the tutelage of Dabo Swinney is certain to lead to bigger and better things, not only for Watkins, but for the Tigers as a whole.
It might be too soon to hope for a Heisman for Watkins, but a strong 2012 could earn a ticket to New York in December, setting him up for a possible win in 2013. Who knows? A highlight-reel season finale against what should be a very good South Carolina team could provide him a few extra votes needed this season...
Realistically, though, it's a certain someone from South Carolina who has a better chance of winning the coveted posed sculpture of Ed Smith (not John Heisman, as is popularly thought).
Last season we were robbed of what could have been one of the truly great performances by an underclassman when South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore succumbed to a season-ending knee injury.
The whole nation was prepared to watch Lattimore catapult the Gamecocks back to an SEC championship game berth and possible BCS game invite. Instead, we had to put our expectations on hold for a year while Lattimore rested and recovered.
Now, with everything appearing just as it did prior to last season, our hopes are rising again for a once-in-a-decade kind of performance from the junior Lattimore. Staying healthy is obviously going to be his primary concern in 2012, but if that happens, you can bet that the Gamecocks' running game will get a huge shot in the arm.
The East Division is likely to come down to South Carolina and Georgia this season, and with the Gamecocks avoiding cross-divisional foes like Alabama, Texas A&M and Auburn, the game against in-state rival Clemson could turn into one of the biggest regular-season tests Lattimore and the Gamecocks will face this season.
A season finale also has the advantage of remaining fresh in voters' minds when it's time to cast those ballots, and a big game by Lattimore could weigh heavily on those decisions.