Top-10 Opportunity: 2013 schedule will put Tigers to the test, home and away

Games against Georgia, FSU, South Carolina could give Clemson three top-10 match-ups for just the third time ever,

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney sacks Georgia's Aaron Murray during the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney sacks Georgia's Aaron Murray during the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Don't look for Clemson to take much heat next fall for scheduling two FCS opponents - South Carolina State and The Citadel - in the same season.

The Tigers will make up for it elsewhere.

Depending on how the rankings play out over the course of the 2013 season, Dabo Swinney's Tigers could become just the third team in school history to three top-10 teams in a season, and only the second to play three top-10 opponents in regular season games.

Early preseason rankings for next fall have Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina all ranked in the top 10.

Coupled with an ACC schedule that replaces a home game against Duke with a road trip to Virginia and swaps a trip to Georgia Tech for a game at Syracuse, Clemson's quest for a championship season won't be compromised by a lack of opportunity.

The addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC "just makes it tougher," said Swinney recently.

"It doesn't get any easier, that's for sure," Swinney said. "I know we have Georgia Tech coming back here, and Duke was supposed to come here. Instead of going to Atlanta, we're going to Syracuse. We've never been there, and I know the Carrier Dome has always been a tough place to go and play. That will be a new experience.

"I thought (former) Coach (Doug) Marrone did a great job a Syracuse, and I know they're a different program and a different team than they were before he took that job. We'll have our hands full in that regard. And we go to Virginia."

The schedule, Swinney said, "gives us the opportunity to go and compete with the best...We'll probably have three top-10 teams on our schedule - I can't imagine Georgia, Florida State and South Carolina not being top-10 teams. They're top-10 teams now."

Clemson has played three top-10 teams just twice before: in 1966, when Frank Howard sent his team against No. 9 Georgia Tech, No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Southern California; and in 1981, when the Tigers faced No. 4 Georgia and No. 8 North Carolina in the regular season and then defeated No. 4 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to wrap up the national championship.

Ten Clemson teams have faced two top-10 opponents, including last season, when the Tigers played No. 4 Florida State and No. 7 LSU.

Others include:

2004 (No. 8 FSU and No. 10 Virginia)

2003 (No. 3 FSU and No. 6 Tennessee)

2000 (No. 4 FSU and No. 6 Virginia Tech)

1999 (No. 8 Virginia Tech and No. 1 FSU)

1997 (No. 5 FSU and No. 8 UNC)

1976 (No. 9 Georgia and No. 6 Maryland)

1963 (No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 9 Georgia Tech)

1959 (No. 7 Georgia Tech and No. 7 TCU)

1953 (No. 3 Maryland and No. 6 Georgia Tech)

For now, Swinney says he's looking neither ahead nor backwards.

"What I'm focused on right now is getting this team ready for off-season and spring ball and Georgia," he said. "So we'll see. It should be fun."

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Comments » 7

TigerFan95 writes:

Our schedule is mediocre at best. And SC will not be a top-ten team by time we play them in November.

brookesdad729 writes:

I agree with the SC analogy...they have NC, UGA and Vandy for their first three games....never mind UGA and NC but Vandy ain't takin no prisoners for sure and they got a good class coming in. Man Franklin is doing a great job up there!

omnipotent1 writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Our schedule is mediocre at best. And SC will not be a top-ten team by time we play them in November.

Why so negative?

radtiger writes:

The subject was about Clemson's schedule but somehow it always turn into a discussion about SC and their rankings and schedule.....Seems like most of our fans are too hung up on the gamecocks and it might have alot to do with why we cant and havent beat them in 4 years. Call me negative if you want to be Im just being real.

Bigboots writes:

81 tigers played Georgia, UNC, and Nebraska.
Weren't two if not all three of them in the top ten?

Bigboots writes:

All three. Got it. Had a bad connection.

columbiabill writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Our schedule is mediocre at best. And SC will not be a top-ten team by time we play them in November.

Yes, why so negative.

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