The offseason never feels quite as long when you’re the champions. The view from the mountain top is pretty nice and frankly, I wasn’t feeling too anxious for the season to begin. Then SEC media days lit the fire for me.
It was there that Alabama foolishly chose to provide Clemson with bulletin board material. Coach Saban blamed the 28-point National Championship loss on coaches and players focusing on personal agendas rather than team goals. Although I don’t doubt this was a contributing factor, his remarks came off as if he was saying Clemson wasn’t the better team. To make matters worse, Dylan Moses was asked and said Alabama’s best is better than Clemson’s best. Whether that’s true or false is completely irrelevant, but you better believe Coach Swinney will use it to motivate the Tigers during the season. You would’ve thought 44-16 was enough to “leave no doubt,” but I suppose not. It’s got me fired up for the season to begin and I hope you’re feeling the same way.
Last year, I wrote an article that gazed across the entire football schedule (a beauty to gaze upon) and highlighted the best games each week. It ended up being a great reference tool for me to pull up throughout the year to see what was coming the next weekend. I encourage you skim through it now, but then go ahead and favorite it and return to it occasionally as you plan you fall weekends.
Clemson’s game each week is listed first and the best game each week is in bold. Game times are noted in eastern time for contests where they’re already announced. I included my thoughts on the week after the listing of top couple games.
(Saturday, Aug 31 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Georgia Tech at Clemson (Thursday, Aug 29 - 8:00pm)
- Miami at Florida (Orlando - Saturday, Aug 24 - 7:00pm)
- South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Charlotte - 3:30pm)
- Duke vs. Alabama (Atlanta - 3:30pm)
- Boise State vs. Florida State (Jacksonville - 7:00pm)
- Oregon vs. Auburn (Arlington - 7:30pm)
- Virginia at Pittsburgh (7:30pm)
I normally hate it when Clemson has a non-Saturday game, especially at home. This one is different because it falls on Labor Day weekend and allows me to take the rest of the weekend for a vacation. I’d normally reserve that time for a Clemson game. When Saturday rolls around I’ll be picking and choosing my games carefully. The noon slate is terrible (ECU @ NCSU on the ACCN is the best) so take that time to do whatever you need to do that day, then come back and settle in.
There are four really interesting neutral site games. U of SC will play Mack Brown’s Tar Heels. U of SC really should win this game as the Heels are going to be rebuilding. A loss would make the Cocks path to a bowl game extremely difficult. For as much as I dislike UNC basketball, I like Mack Brown and it’ll be interesting to see how big of a project he has on his hands. Duke/Alabama won’t be close, but there seldom opportunities to watch Alabama when traveling to and from Clemson games. The night games are where it gets good. FSU vs. Boise State will give us a great gauge of what year two under Coach Taggart will look like. Oregon vs. Auburn could have playoff implications. I think the winner of this game as a real shot to make a run at the playoff. Lastly you have Virginia at Pittsburgh. It’s the Coastal favorite at the defending Coastal champ.
Oh, and a week in advance of all this you get a college football appetizer. Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 24th. This isn’t Stanford vs. Rice in Australia. We have legitimate college football as Miami and Florida renew their rivalry.
(Saturday, Sep 7 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Texas A&M at Clemson (3:30pm)
- Syracuse at Maryland (Noon)
- West Virginia at Missouri (Noon)
- LSU at Texas (7:30pm)
- Miami at North Carolina (8:00pm)
- Stanford at USC (10:30pm)
It used to be that Week 1 was the slow week, but with all the neutral site kickoff games, Week 2 has become the official FCS cupcake week. That’s ok because those in attendance at the Clemson game will miss most of the action with it’s being a mid-day kickoff. Fortunately, there are no other halfway decent 3:30 games so the nation’s attention will be square on Death Valley. Later that night, LSU and Texas should make for an interesting game. Besides those two games, Week 2 it’s pretty bare.
(Saturday, Sep 14 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson at Syracuse (7:30pm)
- North Carolina at Wake Forest (Friday, Sep 13 - 6:00pm - Non-ACC Game)
- NC State at West Virginia (Noon)
- Alabama at South Carolina (3:30pm)
- Stanford at UCF (3:30pm)
- Florida State at Virginia (7:30pm)
- Oklahoma at UCLA (8:00pm)
I’m a big fan of UNC and Wake Forest agreeing to play a non-conference game instead of continuing to push the rest of the ACC into a ninth conference game. Clemson has no need for more games with Duke and Pittsburgh! On Saturday, Clemson will again be the headline game - assuming Syracuse wins at Maryland in Week 2 and is 2-0. You’ve also got Alabama going to Columbia. They lost their last time there. I can’t imagine that happens again. I wonder if Alabama will beat them by more than Clemson will in November? Those will be fun comparisons come bowl season.
(Saturday, Sep 21 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Charlotte at Clemson (TBD)
- Utah at USC (Friday, Sep 20 - 9:00pm)
- Michigan at Wisconsin (Noon)
- Notre Dame at Georgia (TBD)
- South Carolina at Missouri (TBD)
- Auburn at Texas A&M (TBD)
- Oregon at Stanford (TBD)
- Michigan State at Northwestern (TBD)
On Friday, the biggest game in the Pac-12 South takes place. Utah, the favorite to win the division, goes to USC. It’ll be the Utes first conference game and a road win against their division rival will give them a major advantage.
The first of Clemson’s two cupcakes doesn’t come until September 21st. It’ll likely be a noon game, but it comes after the blazing heat of early September. We may dodge that bullet! Assuming it’s a noon game, we’ll miss Michigan at Wisconsin, but several other great games could be in play. Kelly Bryant tries for another win against U of SC. Auburn and Texas A&M battle for their spot in the SEC West pecking order. Oregon at Stanford, another one of he biggest Pac-12 games of the year, is in Week 4. If Oregon escapes Week 4 with wins over Auburn and Stanford they will deserve a very high ranking. Michigan State at Northwestern is a good chance to watch former Clemson QB Hunter Johnson, and then you have the obvious game of the week - Notre Dame at Georgia. National implications on the line between the Hedges. Hopefully it’s a night game and Clemson fans can get in front of a TV with time to spare.
(Saturday, Sep 28 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson at UNC
- NC State at Florida State
- Kentucky at South Carolina
- Northwestern at Wisconsin
- Virginia at Notre Dame (3:30pm)
If you needed more reason to try to make the trip to Chapel Hill, look at the rest of the college football schedule. It’s not a great Saturday to be home taking in multiple games. NC State at Florida State is a little interesting in that we may see FSU start to move back up the ACC totem pole. It feels like a statement game in that regard.
Kentucky goes for six straight against U of SC. Northwestern vs. Wisconsin will have Big 10 West implications and gives us another chance to watch QB Hunter Johnson. The best game is UVa at Notre Dame. Both have a chance to be pretty good this year. The winner may be in store for a special year. Imagine if Notre Dame loses to Georgia and Virginia back-to-back. If they win both they’ll rightfully vault into the top four.
(Saturday, Oct 5 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson on bye week
- Auburn at Florida
- Virginia Tech at Miami
- Northwestern at Nebraska
- Georgia at Tennessee
- Washington at Stanford
- Michigan State at Ohio State (7:30pm)
It’s really a travesty that our bye week isn’t filled with great games for us to enjoy while we have the free Saturday. At least it comes after a road trip to Chapel Hill and gives us some rest. Maybe Auburn turns out to be good and Auburn at Florida becomes a great matchup. Virginia Tech at Miami should be consequential for the Coastal Division as will Northwestern vs. Nebraska in the Big 10 West. UGA may pummel UT, but it is a solid rivalry game. If Michigan State can straighten out their offense, seeing them make the trip to the Horseshoe is a decent game. There’s honestly not much this week, but that could change after five weeks of play.
(Saturday, Oct 12 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Florida State at Clemson
- Syracuse at NC State (Thursday, Oct 10 - 8:00pm)
- Virginia at Miami (Friday, Oct 11, - 8:00pm)
- Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas - Noon)
- Florida at LSU
- Alabama at Texas A&M
- USC at Notre Dame (7:30pm)
How does this always happen? We’ve got two weeks before this with only a few of good games and then Week 7 is loaded. This is probably the best weekend of college football all year. You get a really solid Thursday night ACC game in the Atlantic and then an even better ACC Coastal game on Friday. Florida State comes to Clemson. They’re obviously playing catch up with the Tigers’ program, but it is nevertheless the marquee matchup in the ACC. The Big 12 gives us the Red River Shootout, and Notre Dame hosts USC. Not to be outdone, the SEC has two great matchups. Florida - who will not have played Georgia yet - and LSU - who will not have played Alabama yet - tangle. The winner will become the third wheel in Alabama and Georgia’s SEC.
(Saturday, Oct 19 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson at Louisville
- Ohio State at Northwestern (Friday, Oct 18 - 8:30pm)
- Oregon at Washington
- Florida at South Carolina
- Michigan at Penn State
We start with a Friday night rematch of the Big 10 title game. Then Pac-12 has their moment with the top two teams in the North Division facing off. Depending on how Oregon’s Week 1 matchup with Auburn goes, and how Washington’s defense looks after replacing key starters, this could have national implications. This is a good weekend for taking in Clemson from home and then surveying great action around the country.
(Saturday, Oct 26 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Boston College at Clemson
- Iowa at Northwestern (Noon)
- Auburn at LSU
- South Carolina at Tennessee
- Penn State at Michigan State
- Notre Dame at Michigan
- Syracuse at Florida State
Clemson hosts Boston College and will try make it nine straight in the series. Syracuse goes to Florida State in what could be a big game for the ACC pecking order. Notre Dame at Michigan is a great one. Hopefully the game times work out so Clemson fans can watch the Tigers and tune in for this one.
(Saturday, Nov 2 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Wofford at Clemson
- Miami at Florida State
- Oregon at USC
- Utah at Washington
- Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (2:30pm)
- Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville - 3:30pm)
It’s Georgia vs. Florida weekend! We should have years upon years of great matchups upcoming in this rivalry. We also have Miami at Florida State, which is impossible to predict at this point with those two programs being as volatile as they are. Utah at Washington is a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Championship game. Oregon at USC is another solid Pac-12 game. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame could be interesting. I tend to think Virginia Tech is well behind Notre Dame, but we’ll see if they can have a big bounce back year. A win in South Bend would certainly be a big statement for them even if Notre Dame has losses to Georgia and Michigan by this point.
(Saturday, Nov 9 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson at NC State
- LSU at Alabama
- Iowa at Wisconsin
- Missouri at Georgia
Clemson goes to NC State for the Textile Bowl in what is a mostly slow weekend of college football. There is one game that’s really exceptional and will will get all the hype and attention in Week 11 - LSU at Alabama. Hopefully it isn’t at the same time as the Clemson game. We’ll also get to see Kelly Bryant against UGA which could be interesting.
(Saturday, Nov 16 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Wake Forest at Clemson
- North Carolina at Pittsburgh (Thursday, Oct 14 - 8:00pm)
- Georgia at Auburn
- Michigan State at Michigan
- Texas at Iowa State
- Florida at Missouri
- South Carolina at Texas A&M
Wake Forest comes to town to be cannon fodder for the defending ACC and National Champs. They have a good offense that’ll challenge the Tigers, but won’t be able to keep pace with Clemson’s weapons on offense. Georgia at Auburn will headline the day, but there are a couple other games that could be really impactful, or not at all depending on how the prior weeks pan out. Michigan State vs. Michigan could have major implications in the Big 10 East (or it could be all about Penn State and Ohio State). Texas and Iowa State could have major implications for the Big 12 title game (or it could be all about Oklahoma and TCU). It’ll also be fun to see Kelly Bryant against Florida’s defense and South Carolina at Kyle Field.
(Saturday, Nov 23 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson second bye week
- NC State at Georgia Tech (Thursday, Nov 21 - 8:00pm)
- Texas A&M at Georgia
- Penn State at Ohio State
- Tennessee at Missouri
- Boise State at Utah State
Week 13 is pure bonus. Normally this would be rivalry week, but because the calendar gives us an extra weekend between Labor Day and Thanksgiving we have an extra bye week. What a blessing. Clemson fans can enjoy a week off with a couple really solid games. Texas A&M makes their first trip to UGA. Penn State at Ohio State is always a big matchup. Boise State at Utah State is a sneaky good G5 game.
(Saturday, Nov 30 unless otherwise noted; times are Eastern)
- Clemson at South Carolina
- Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday, Nov 28 - 7:30pm)
- Virginia Tech at Virginia (Friday, Nov 29)
- Washington State at Washington (Friday, Nov 29 - 4pm)
- Ohio State at Michigan (Noon)
- Alabama at Auburn
- Florida State at Florida
- Texas A&M at LSU
Finally we have rivalry weekend. I love how some of these have started coming on Friday. I really enjoyed the Virginia vs. Virginia Tech game last year. Although I generally prefer Virginia Tech, I can’t help but root for the streak to end. Ohio State vs. Michigan could be for a playoff spot, and the Iron Bowl is maybe the best rivalry in all of American sports. This is just a truly spectacular weekend as always. Don’t let is go by too quickly. It is fleeting. Take it in and enjoy the extra week we have this year. We’ll be at the end before you know it!
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