Three teams will make their first appearance in Death Valley, including first-year ACC member Louisville, according to the 2014 Clemson football schedule announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Wednesday.
Overall the Tigers will face nine teams that had winning records and eight squads that played in bowl games during the 2013 season. Five of those programs, Louisville, South Carolina, Florida State, Syracuse and North Carolina, won bowl games. The slate also includes three teams that won at least 11 games and finished in the top 15 of both polls, Florida State, Louisville and South Carolina.
“This schedule allows us to compete to reach the College Football Playoff,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “It is a challenging schedule. Just look at the beginning. We play at Georgia and at Florida State within the first three games.
“On paper, based on last year’s results, it looks to be more difficult than last year. Louisville was a 12-1 team ranked in the final top 15 and North Carolina finished strong winning six of its last seven games.” Louisville and North Carolina replace Maryland and Virginia on the ACC portion of Clemson’s schedule.
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“Playing Georgia and South Carolina from the SEC certainly makes it difficult from a non-conference standpoint.”
Clemson finished the 2013 season with an 11-2 record and a number-seven final ranking by USA Today.
Clemson will have two weeks to prepare for Florida State as the Tigers have an open date on September 13 prior to the September 20 game. Clemson is 10-0 the last two years under Swinney with at least eight days to prepare for the next opponent.
For the fifth consecutive year Clemson will play two non-conference games against SEC teams, the third straight year Clemson will open and close the regular season with teams from that league. The Tigers travel to Athens, GA to face Georgia on August 30 for the season opener, then will finish the regular season November 29 with a home game against South Carolina. It will be just the second time since 1958 Clemson has played on that date. The only other time was in 2008 when the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks, 31-14.
Clemson will play two non-conference opponents to open the season and will close the season with two non-conference foes. This will be the fifth consecutive year Clemson plays all eight of its ACC games consecutively.
The slate includes 11 Saturday games and one Thursday night game, at Wake Forest on November 6. Clemson has won five consecutive games played on days other than Saturday, including bowl wins over top 10 teams to conclude each of the last two seasons. The Tigers have won three consecutive Thursday night games, including two years ago at Wake Forest.
Clemson opens the 2014 season at Georgia on August 30, tied for the earliest start to a season in Clemson history. Clemson defeated a fifth-ranked Georgia team at Clemson last year in one of the top college games of the year, 38-35. Clemson has lost three in a row in Athens and has not won in Sanford Stadium since David Treadwell’s 46-yard field goal on the last play of the game gave Danny Ford’s team a 31-28 victory in 1986.
Clemson opens its home schedule against South Carolina State on September 6. It will be the second consecutive year the Bulldogs have played at Clemson. Last year South Carolina State finished with a 9-4 record and reached the FCS playoffs.
Two weeks later Clemson will be play defending national champion Florida State. It will be the earliest meeting on the calendar between the two schools in Tallahassee since 2006 when the Tigers last won there, a 27-20 victory on a last minute touchdown by James Davis.
The winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has gone on to win the ACC Atlantic Division each of the last five years.
North Carolina comes to Clemson on September 27th for the first of three straight ACC games in Memorial Stadium, the first time that has happened since 1991. Each of the last two appearances for North Carolina in Death Valley, the Tigers have celebrated a reunion for its 1981 National Championship team and the Clemson team has responded by scoring 110 total points. No reunion is scheduled this year. Clemson has won four of the last five against the Tar Heels, including three in a row at Death Valley.
Clemson will welcome another school from the Tar Heel state, the NC State Wolfpack, the following Saturday. This will be the first time Clemson has played North Carolina and NC State at home in consecutive games. Clemson has won nine of the last 10 in the series, with the Wolfpack including five in a row at home since Philip Rivers and company defeated the Tigers at Memorial Stadium in 2002.
Louisville’s first trip to Clemson, which includes new Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino, concludes the home stand on October 11. Marshall (1999) and Miami (FL) (2005) are the only programs to win their first game in Clemson Memorial Stadium since 1977.
Clemson returns to the road for the first time in 28 days when the Tigers play at Boston College on October 18. The Tigers have a 5-4 lead in the series since the Eagles joined the conference for the 2005 season. This year’s game will be the 10th time the two schools play for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy.
For the second consecutive home game, a first-time visitor to Death Valley is on the schedule as the Syracuse Orange come to Clemson. It will be Clemson’s last home ACC game of the year. Clemson won its first game in the Carrier Dome this past season.
Clemson’s next game is on a Thursday night at Wake Forest, the third time since 2008 that Clemson has played in Winston-Salem on a Thursday night. The Tigers will face a Demon Deacons team led by first-year coach Dave Clawson, the only first-year coach Clemson will face this year.
On November 15 Clemson wraps up its ACC slate at Georgia Tech. The Tigers have beaten the Yellow Jackets each of the last two years, but have not won at Tech since 2003.
Clemson concludes the regular season with home games against first time opponent Georgia State and state rival South Carolina. It is just the second time since 2006 that Clemson has finished the regular season with consecutive home games.
2014 CLEMSON FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
... Aug. 30 at Georgia
... Sept. 6 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
... Sept. 20 at Florida State
... Sept. 27 NORTH CAROLINA
... Oct. 4 N.C. STATE
... Oct. 11 LOUISVILLE
... Oct. 18 at Boston College
... Oct. 25 SYRACUSE
... Nov. 6 at Wake Forest#
... Nov. 15 at Georgia Tech
... Nov. 22 GEORGIA STATE
... Nov. 29 SOUTH CAROLINA
# Thursday night game
All game times TBA