Clemson, an almost-assured 2013 ACC favorite, has a much different path than in recent years to Charlotte for a conference title and for the ultimate goal, in Pasadena, Calif., site of the BCS National Championship.
Offensive stars Tajh Boyd (senior quarterback) and Sammy Watkins (junior wide receiver) – along with four-of-five starters back on the offensive line, must tackle two Thursday night games this season. Against Georgia Tech (Nov. 14), Dabo Swinney’s Tigers host their first Thursday game since 2002, and on the road, they face N.C. State for the ACC opener on Sept. 19. It’s also the first time since 2002 that Clemson has had two Thursday night contests (both were on the road).
"A Thursday night nationally televised home game will provide an opportunity to showcase the university as well as the football program," Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a press release. "At the same time we recognize the challenges it will present for many departments on campus, especially faculty and students with afternoon or night classes and labs. The athletic department staff will work closely with the administration to make this as workable as possible."
The Tigers can set a title-run tone early hosting the 2012 SEC East champion Georgia Bulldogs on Aug. 31, for the first in a home-and-home series in the old rivalry that heads to Athens, Ga. in 2014.
With an extended 2013 season, the major conferences with championship games have two off-weeks, with the Clemson's falling before both Thursday trips.
In another quirk this season, the Tigers’ conference schedule wraps up early with the Yellow Jackets mid-November, before The Citadel comes to town (Nov. 23) and the return trip to South Carolina (Nov. 30).
"It is always exciting to get the schedule and plan out the season," Dabo Swinney said. "It will be a challenging schedule from top to bottom with three teams that finished in the top 10 last year (Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State), and those teams should be top 10 teams again this year.
"It will be a challenging ACC season as well. Thursday night games bring great exposure to your program and I am glad we do not have a quick turnaround (four days to prepare) in either situation."
The marquee Atlantic Division showdown comes with a well-rested reigning ACC-champ Florida State, coming off a bye week, on Oct. 19 in Death Valley. All in all, four conference opponents get the extra week to prepare for the Tigers (Georgia Tech, Syracuse and N.C. State the others).
Clemson’s first matchup with new ACC-member and division-mate Syracuse is on the road, Oct. 5, while later, the Tigers head to Charlottesville, Va. for the first time since 2008, facing Virginia (Nov. 2).
2013 Clemson Football Schedule
|08/31||vs. Georgia||Clemson, SC|
|09/7||vs. SC State||Clemson, S.C.|
|09/19||at N.C. State (Thurs.)||Raliegh, N.C.|
|09/28||vs. Wake Forest||Clemson, S.C.|
|10/5||at Syracuse||Syracuse, N.Y.|
|10/12||vs. Boston College||Clemson, S.C.|
|10/19||Florida State||Clemson, S.C.|
|10/26||at Maryland||College Park, Md.|
|11/2||at Virginia||Charlottesville, Va.|
|11/14||Georgia Tech (Thurs.)||Clemson, S.C.|
|11/23||vs. The Citadel||Clemson, S.C.|
|11/30||at South Carolina||Columbia, S.C.|
Division rivals Wake Forest (Sept. 28) and Boston College (Oct. 12) return to TigerTown this season, and Clemson travels back to Maryland on Oct. 26.
S.C. State joins The Citadel as a second FCS team lining the 2013 opponents, and the Orangeburg version of the Bulldogs follow the opener in Death Valley (Sept. 7). They went 5-6 last season – outscored 126-14 against FBS programs.