The ACC released its schedule for the 2021 football season last week and it looks like Clemson has a favorable road back to the college football playoff for the seventh straight season.
Clemson opens up the 2021 campaign on Sept. 4 with a playoff caliber matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs. The two heated rivals have not played since 2014 when Georgia beat Clemson 45-21. This is the biggest first week matchup in all of college football and may be Clemson’s biggest opening game of all time. Two California kids square off in Charlotte, NC. For Georgia, J.T Daniels looks to improve on a strong 2020 season in his first year at Georgia. For Clemson, D.J Uiagalelei took the college football world by storm last year by throwing for 342 yards and leading an 18-point comeback against Boston College. He followed that up by throwing for 439 yards against Notre Dame in South Bend which was the largest amount given up by the Irish. Both teams come to Charlotte with National Championships expectations and it is somewhat of a playoff elimination game. Georgia leads the all-time series 42-18-4, but Clemson will prevail in a dogfight in Charlotte.
The next week on Sept. 11, Clemson will play South Carolina State, which should be a good tune-up game for the Tigers as they prepare the ACC slate of the schedule.
On Sept. 18, Clemson opens the ACC conference slate when Georgia Tech comes into Death Valley with third-year Head Coach Geoff Collins and rising stars Jeff Simms and Jahymr Gibbs. Georgia Tech is still looking for a program defining win and could get it in week three in Memorial Stadium. Clemson heads into the matchup riding a six game win streak in the matchup, but Georgia Tech leads the all-time series lead at 50 to 33. Clemson wins big and we will see fireworks early.
On Sept. 25, Clemson will travel to Raleigh, NC to take on Head Coach Dave Deoren’s Wolfpack. NC State had a strong 2020 but lost their bowl game to unranked Kentucky. Clemson enters the matchup with an eight game win streak over the Wolfpack with their last loss coming in 2011. I predict Clemson to win this game big as there is not enough talent on the NC State roster to keep up with the tigers.
On Oct. 2, Boston College will try to finish what they could not in 2020, as they gave up an 18-point lead to the Tigers. Head Coach Jeff Hafley going into his second year could get a program-defining win with a win on October 2. Clemson leads the all series 19-9. I like what Jeff Hafley is building up in Chestnut Hill, but I see the Tigers making it 20 this year.
Following the bye week, Clemson travels up north to play Syracuse on Oct. 15, which is a Friday. The last time these two teams played on a Friday the Orange knocked off the Tigers in 2017. Head Coach Dino Babers has hit a bit of a slump while at Syracuse since the 2018 season, but he brings in transfer quarterback Garret Shrader from Mississippi State to spark his no huddle spread offense. Clemson leads the all-time series lead 7-2.
The next week on Oct.23, Clemson stays above the Mason Dixon to play Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. Head Coach Pat Narduzzi will look to knock down the Tigers twice in his tenure while at Pittsburgh. Everyone remembers when Pitt upset Clemson 43-42 in 2016, but I see the Tigers winning this matchup. The all-time series is tied at 2.
On Oct. 30, Florida State comes to town. This game should be interesting as in 2020 the Seminoles left Clemson at the altar and the game was canceled after one positive COVID-19 test within the Clemson program. Florida State leads the all-time series 20-13, but the Tigers have dominated the last half decade of this rivalry. Head Coach Swinney and Head Coach Mike Norvell traded a war of words, so this matchup should have tons of fireworks.
On Nov. 6, Clemson travels up to Kentucky to play Louisville. Head Coach Scott Satterfield has built a pretty good program in his tenure at Louisville and I believe this will be a good matchup. These matchups have provided some very close games from 2014-2016 as they were all only one score wins by the Tigers. Clemson leads the all-time series 6-0.
On Nov. 13, UConn travels to Clemson to play in Death Valley. This will be the first time in history that these two schools have ever met. An interesting matchup for sure, but Clemson is definitely considered the favorite to win.
On Nov. 20, Wake Forest comes to town for the regular season ACC finale. Head Coach Dave Clawson has built a pretty good program in his tenure at Wake Forest. Clemson leads the all-time series 68-17.
On Nov. 27, the Battle of the Palmetto State returns. Clemson will travel to Columbia to face the Gamecocks of South Carolina. This rivalry did not happen in 2020, but there is no love lost between these two programs. South Carolina is led by first year Head Coach Shane Beamer and looks to knock off rival Clemson. Clemson leads the all-series 71-42-4.