Clemson celebrates national championship victory
Clemson has won two of the past three national titles, and the Tigers will likely be the favorites to win it all again in 2019 as Trevor Lawrence and plenty of playmakers will be back. Clemson has a couple of early tests, but the schedule sets up nicely for the Tigers to return to the College Football Playoff for a fifth consecutive season. Here’s a look at each game of next year’s regular season:
Georgia Tech, Aug. 29, Clemson
The ACC Network, which is set to launch if August, picked this matchup as its first football game to be played on the network. This should be an opportunity for the ACC’s premier team to get off to a strong start in 2019 and continue to show how far ahead it is as a program from the rest of the league. New head coach Geoff Collins may have success at Georgia Tech eventually, but it’s not going to come in Week 1 of Year 1 on the road breaking in a drastically new offense against defending national champion Clemson.
Texas A&M, Sept. 7, Clemson
One of two teams to play Clemson to within a touchdown in 2018, Texas A&M should give the Tigers a challenge again. Jimbo Fisher is bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country in 2019, and the Aggies already have plenty of talent returning. Quarterback Kellen Mond gave the Tigers fits in 2018, and Mond and the Aggies will provide a tough early test for a Clemson defense that must replace seven starters.
Syracuse, Sept. 14, Syracuse, N.Y.
The other team to play Clemson to within a touchdown in 2018, Syracuse is on the rise under Dino Babers. The Orange won 10 games this past season, including a 34-18 win against West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. Quarterback Eric Dungey is gone, but this will still be one of the toughest challenges on Clemson’s schedule in 2019. Clemson lost at Syracuse in 2017 and had to rally to top the Orange at home in 2018.
Charlotte, Sept. 21, Clemson
After opening the season with three Power 5 programs the Tigers’ schedule gets a bit lighter with a home game against a Charlotte team that finished 5-7 a year ago.
North Carolina, Sept. 28, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Mack Brown may turn around North Carolina’s program in the next few years, but the Tar Heels are missing too many pieces on both sides of the ball to be competitive against Clemson in 2019, even playing at home. UNC finished 2-9 in 2018 and should be improved, but not enough. This game would be a lot more intriguing had Kelly Bryant decided to play his final season at North Carolina.
Florida State, Oct. 12, Clemson
This was a great rivalry, but the series has been dominated by Clemson as of late. This year’s matchup can’t be as bad as the 59-10 beatdown the Tigers put on FSU in Tallahassee last year, right? Maybe not, but it should be another blowout victory for Clemson.
Louisville, Oct. 19, Louisville, Ky.
Scott Satterfield did an outstanding job at Appalachian State and should have Louisville headed back in the right direction soon. But there is a massive rebuilding job needed as the Cardinals finished 2-10 last year and lost eight games by 21 or more points, including a 77-16 loss at Clemson.
Boston College, Oct. 26, Clemson
The Eagles appeared to be the biggest threat to Clemson in the ACC Atlantic for much of the 2018 season before a loss to Clemson started a streak of three consecutive losses to close out the year. Still, BC’s defense has played Clemson’s offense as well as anyone the past two seasons, and Steve Addazio seems to always have his team ready to play.
Wofford, Nov. 2, Clemson
Wofford is a very good FCS program, but it doesn’t have the athletes to compete with Clemson.
N.C. State, Nov. 9, Raleigh, N.C.
Some weird games have occurred in this series over the past few years, but it’s hard to imagine the Wolfpack knocking off Clemson, even with the game being played in Raleigh.
Wake Forest, Nov. 16, Clemson
This game likely won’t be as lopsided as the 63-3 shellacking this past season in Winston Salem, but it’s going to be hard for Wake Forest to slow down Lawrence and company.
South Carolina, Nov. 30, Columbia
Clemson should improve its winning streak against South Carolina to six games as there is still a large talent gap between the two programs. The Gamecocks showed last year that they can have success moving the ball against Clemson, but they also showed that they can’t slow the Tigers down.
What to expect
Clemson should cruise to an undefeated regular season, and it’s hard to find a game that could be within a score late. The Tigers will need to take care of business because with such an easy schedule they may be left out of the College Football Playoff with one loss.