The ACC released the full 2016 schedule this afternoon, finally bringing clarity to football fans across the country. For Clemson, the big questions each year are when is the FSU game, when is the bye week, and what terrible game are we going to have to play on Thursday night. Last year we were happy about 1 of the 3, the FSU game. This year, things are definitely better.
The full schedule is below:
Sept. 3rd - @Auburn Tigers
Sept. 10th - Troy Trojans
Sept. 17th - South Carolina State Bulldogs
Sept. 22nd - @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Thurs.)
Oct. 1st - Louisville Cardinals
Oct. 7th - @Boston College (Fri.)
Oct. 15th - NC State Wolfpack
Oct. 22nd - BYE
Oct. 29th - @Florida State Seminoles
Nov. 5th - Syracuse Orange
Nov 12th - Pittsburgh Panthers
Nov. 19th - @Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Nov 26th - South Carolina Gamecocks
Once again Clemson will be opening the season with a "marquee" matchup. I say marquee because although Auburn is in that vaunted SEC, recent seasons have not been kind to Auburn. The shine on coach Gus Malzahn has worn off over the past two years, and he is coaching for his job in 2016. Though Clemson will be favored in this game, season openers always have some shenanigans and if Clemson doesn't take this game seriously it could end poorly, especially if the defense has difficulty putting everything together.
After that we've got our traditional 2 cupcake games. From a competitive standpoint I'd really like to get a better opponent than Troy. SC State I'm fine with because I like the tradition of playing one in-state opponent at a lower level. It helps out their program and gives us our annual cupcake. But instead of Troy I'd rather play a better FBS team, maybe even a Kansas or Vanderbilt P5 type of team.
As we mentioned last year, the bye week is critical, and this time it comes square in the middle of the season. Everyone will be quick to point to how great it is to have the bye week right before the FSU game, but there is not statistical evidence showing any benefit to a bye week.
FSU once again comes in the middle of the schedule. Thankfully the ACC has gone away from making the game an early season contest and allows both teams to settle in before facing off.
And typical ACC nonsense we have to go to Boston College for a Friday night game. I'd really like to know who makes up this nonsense. Friday night is for high school football, no one wants to watch a college game on Friday night. Thanks a lot for the 2 short weeks of rest.
Now let's talk about short week nonsense. Thursday night games are terrible and Clemson gets the pleasure of Thursday night in Atlanta this year. And early in the season to boot. This is the worst case scenario for our defense. Facing the triple option in Atlanta early on is going to be a tough test for us. We've had a lot of trouble in Atlanta and that could easily continue this year.
As always Clemson will end the season with South Carolina, a home game this year. A fun fact, if the spurs of a Gamecock are up, it most likely means it is dead with its legs in the air. So spurs up I guess?
Overall it is a decent schedule. The only real qualm is the early Thursday night game in Atlanta, but the bye week and FSU games are well placed and there is no gauntlet to run. Just your normal mix of some good games and some tough ones. We've seen worse and now we can all begin planning our 2016 tailgates.