Clemson facing tough tests in 2013 football campaign

Clemson’s 2013 football schedule includes three games against teams that finished the 2012 season in the top 10 in the nation.  The schedule was released by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday.

Two of the three games against top 10 teams from 2012 will be non-conference opponents Georgia and South Carolina.  Clemson and Nevada are the only schools in the nation to play two non-conference games against teams that finished the 2012 season in the top 10.

Clemson will open the season with Georgia at home and close the season at South Carolina.  The Tigers also face a 2012 top 10 Florida State team at Clemson on October 19.

Clemson will have a pair of Thursday night games that will be televised nationally by ESPN, September 19 at NC State and November 14 vs. Georgia Tech at Clemson.  It will be Clemson’s first home Thursday night game since October 25, 2002 when Clemson played NC State.

It will be just the second year that Clemson has played a pair of Thursday night games. The 2002 season was the only other year it has happened. With the two Thursday night games and a 14-week time span for the regular season due to the nature of the calendar, Clemson will not play on four Saturday’s once the season begins.  Clemson will not play on September 14, September 21, November 9 and November 16.

“A Thursday night nationally televised home game will provide an opportunity to showcase the university as well as the football program,” said Clemson Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich.  “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.”

Clemson opens the season at home against Georgia, the first meeting between the two long time rivals since 2003. Georgia finished the 2012 season ranked fourth by USA Today while Clemson was ranked ninth.

The programs had legendary games during the 1977-87 era when both teams were consistent top 15 teams. The two teams were 5-5-1 against each other during that era and the average victory margin was just 4.7 points per game.  Nine of the 11 games were decided by a touchdown or less.

Georgia won the National Championship in 1980 and a 20-16 win over Clemson was a big victory for the Bulldogs. Clemson then won the National Championship in 1981 and a 13-3 win over the fourth ranked Bulldogs was one of the most important wins in the Tigers drive to the title.

After a game on September 7 against South Carolina State, the Tigers will have 12 days to prepare for their first ACC game, a September 19 contest at NC State. The two teams played the second highest scoring game in Clemson history in terms of combined points in a 62-48 Tigers win last year. Clemson has won eight of the last nine against the Wolfpack, but NC State won the last meeting in Raleigh in 2011.

Clemson returns home for a September 28 game against Wake Forest. Clemson has defeated the Demon Deacons at Clemson six consecutive games dating to 1998.

The first game in October will be at Syracuse in what will be the first ACC game for the Orangemen.  Syracuse will play in the ACC this year for the first time after competing in football in the Big East every year since 1991.

It will be the second meeting on the gridiron between Clemson and Syracuse. The teams first met in the January 1, 1996 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL. The game will be played in the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Clemson has won each of its last two games in domed stadiums, wins over Auburn and LSU last year at the Georgia Dome.

Clemson returns for consecutive home games October 12 and19 against Boston College and Florida State, respectively.  Clemson has won four of the last five against Boston College, including each of the last two when the Tigers have scored at least 36 points in each game.

The winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has gone on to win the Atlantic Division of the ACC each of the last four years. In fact, the winner of the regular season meeting has gone on to win the ACC Championship each of the last two years. The Tigers have won five in a row over the Seminoles at Death Valley.   Both teams finished in the top 10 of the final USA Today poll last year and should both be ranked in the top 10 of the 2013 preseason poll.

Clemson will play road games on consecutive Saturdays for the only time all year when the Tigers play at Maryland on October 26 and at Virginia on November 2.  The trip to Maryland will be the last ACC game between the Terps and Tigers as Maryland will be in the Big Ten in 2014. Clemson and Virginia will play for the first time since 2009 when the Tigers won at Death Valley.   The trip to Virginia will be the last out of state game of the year.

After an open date on November 9, Clemson will play host to Georgia Tech on Thursday night, November 14. It will be the second consecutive year Georgia Tech comes to Clemson, the first time a team has played two years in a row at Clemson since the 1993-94 era when four league schools played at Clemson back to back seasons. Georgia Tech played at Clemson on a Thursday night in 1998 and came away with a close victory.

Clemson will face The Citadel at home on November 23, giving the Tigers consecutive games against option offenses, then finish the regular season at South Carolina on November 30. This will be the first time Clemson has played a non-conference game the week before meeting the Gamecocks since 1979 when Clemson played Notre Dame in South Bend the week before playing at South Carolina.

“It is always exciting to get the schedule and plan out the season,” said Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney.  “It will be a challenging schedule from top to bottom with three teams that finished in the top 10 last year 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.”

2013 Clemson Football Schedule
Aug. 31 – GEORGIA
Sept. 7 – SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
Sept. 14 – OPEN
Sept.  19 – #at NC State
Sept. 28 – WAKE FOREST
Oct. 5 – at Syracuse
Oct. 12 – BOSTON COLLEGE
Oct. 19 – FLORIDA STATE
Oct. 26 – at Maryland
Nov. 2 – at Virginia
Nov. 9 – OPEN
Nov. 14 – #GEORGIA TECH
Nov. 23 – CITADEL
Nov. 30 – at South Carolina

# – games played on Thursday evening televised on ESPN

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