Since Louisville joined the ACC in 2014, Clemson has played the following seven ACC foes each season: Louisville, Boston College, Florida State, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and permanent Coastal Division rival Georgia Tech. In addition to these teams, a second ACC Coastal opponent rounds out the conference schedule.
To say that some of these matchups are growing stale would be an understatement. With COVID-19 induced scheduling changes likely coming, we could see a shake-up in 2020. Perhaps that’ll be the impetus for longer term changes. If it was up to me, here’s who I’d like to see Clemson play annually and who I wouldn’t mind seeing rotate off the schedule sometimes:
Clemson should continue playing these ACC foes annually:
Florida State: The Tigers and Seminoles have had some of the best and most meaningful games in the ACC over the past two decades. The Bowden Bowls with Bobby and son Tommy Bowden were classic! FSU QB Jameis Winston made his mark on the rivalry by leading the Seminoles to a blowout win in Death Valley in 2013. Then the next year he got suspended to for screaming obscenities in the dining hall the week of the game, but the Tigers fumbled away the victory. Epic hard fought Tiger wins in 2015 and 2016 turned the tide in the Tigers favor where it currently resides. These are the two best programs in the conference. Geographically it makes sense too. We want to see Tigers vs. Seminoles every year.
Georgia Tech: Less than two hours down I-85, Clemson and Georgia Tech are the two nearest ACC schools excluding the quartet in North Carolina. Clemson’s $2 bill tradition was born from this rivalry and the need to play every other year in Clemson. They’ve played 84 times and while Clemson has won five straight, they trail 32-50-2 in the series all-time.
NC State: The Textile Bowl has been played 88 times. The Tigers hold a commanding 59-28-1 record, but it’s been a heated rivalry nonetheless. In recent years NC State Head Coach Dave Doeren has applauded his team for knocking Clemson RB Wayne Gallman unconscious and causing a fumble. He has also falsely accused Coach Swinney’s staff of using a laptop on the sidelines to somehow cheat. Coach Swinney showed he can troll with the best of them when he had his staff hold up a giant play card with an emoji of a laptop the next season when the Tigers already held a commanding lead. We want the Textile Bowl to keep delivering Tiger wins and entertainment for all.
Clemson doesn’t need to play these ACC foes annually anymore:
Boston College: The Tigers and Eagles have played each of the last 15 years, but after Boston College took the first three matchups, Clemson has won 11 of the last 12. Playing often doesn’t make it a rivalry. In a good year, the McFadden-O’Rourke Trophy isn’t even one of the five most relevant trophies the Tigers earn. It’s a long trip to play in a cold, quiet stadium. There are a lot of teams not so far away that have much more history against Clemson.
Syracuse: Clemson has only played Syracuse, a basketball school only a few hours from Canada, eight times on the football field. Syracuse pulled an upset in 2017 and nearly did it again in 2018. Although the games have been decent and the trip to Syracuse is highly underrated (It’s a short drive to Niagara Falls), it’s just strange that this is a team Clemson plays every year. It doesn’t make sense historically or geographically. It is a game that happens so the ACC Network can be on cable packages in New York City.
Wake Forest: Unlike BC and Syracuse, Wake Forest has a ton of history with the Tigers. At 67-17-1, the Tigers have more wins against the Deacons than any other opponent except U of SC (71-42-4). Clemson has won 11 straight. They haven’t lost back-to-back to Wake Forest since 1992-93.
I like and appreciate Wake Forest. They’re original charter members of the ACC and I love that they’re still in the conference despite being a tiny private school. But there are exactly three teams that care about playing them and they’re all in North Carolina. UNC likes playing them so much that they scheduled a non-conference game against them. Can we make that game happen more and Clemson shellacking them happen less?
ACC Opponents I’d love to see Clemson play more often
North Carolina: The Tigers and Tar Heels played every year from 1957 to 2003. But with the expansion of the ACC, they’ve have only played six times in the 16 seasons since then. The top football programs in North Carolina and South Carolina should play more often. Coach Danny Ford and Coach Dick Crum had some serious ACC battles in the 80s. UNC is a rising power in the current Coastal Division and gave Clemson one of their few interesting games of the 2019 regular season. It’s a drive-able trip for the players and fans – especially ones in Greenville or Charlotte – and a game I’d love to see more often.
Miami: Perhaps it is cliché to say you’d like to play the team with the richest history and most fertile recruiting ground in the conference, but it doesn’t make it untrue. The Tigers and Hurricanes have only played 11 times – just six times since 1960 – but they’ve been memorable. The 2009 win over #10 Miami in Coral Gables was a signature moment in that season. The loss in Death Valley the next season was painful. I still remember Hurricane fans riding around campus in the back of a pick-up truck holding up the “U” hand gesture. The 58-0 Tiger win got Al Golden dismissed and the 38-3 blowout (with that feeble field goal in the final moments) in the ACC Championship were special victories. I don’t like Miami one bit, but I like that I feel something about them.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies are one of the few Southern football schools in the conference. It’s admittedly a long drive, but when you arrive at their beautiful campus set against a mountain backdrop and steeped with military tradition, you can’t help but feel like this is Clemson’s sister school in the conference.
If you’re starved for more Clemson football content, check out my recent appearance on Mark Rogers TV (below) talking about Clemson’s wide receivers and tight ends or my recent article on what I felt was unfair criticism lobbed at Coach Swinney for his handling of racial reconciliation.
Which team would you most like Clemson to play LESS often.
This poll is closed
None of the above