Swinney on 2017 schedule: "It's a challenging schedule"
Clemson, S.C.— Reigning National Champion Clemson announced its 2017 football schedule on Tuesday. The Tigers will face a slate that includes nine teams that went to bowl games in 2016, eight FBS teams that finished with a winning record, and four teams that finished in the final 2016 top 25 of both polls.
Dabo Swinney’s team will play five games in the month of September for the first time since 2012 and three of those games will be against teams that finished in the Top 25 last year. The seven-game home schedule includes six games against teams that had winning records in 2016, including Auburn and Florida State teams that finished the season in the top 25.
“It is always an exciting day when the schedule for the next season is released,” said Swinney, who is just eight wins from moving into second play on Clemson’s career victories list. “We will have a challenging first month with three games against teams that finished in the top 25 last year. And we will play that schedule with a quarterback in his first year as the starter.
“The open date is basically in the middle of the schedule like it was last year, so we don’t have to play 10 straight weeks like we had to in 2015. I also like the fact that we don’t have to play a conference game on a very short week (Saturday to Thursday) as we have had to do each of the last two years. From a preparation standpoint Thursday night games are difficult.
“Overall it is a challenging schedule and as defending National Champion we will get everyone’s best effort.”
Just as Clemson finished 2016 by playing consecutive games against teams from Ohio and Alabama, the Tigers will open 2017 by playing teams from Ohio and Alabama.
The Tigers first game as defending National Champions will be September 2 against Mid American Conference member Kent State. It will be the first time Clemson has played Kent State and the first time Clemson has played a MAC school since 2012 when the Tigers faced Ball State in the home opener. It will be just the fifth time Clemson has played a school from the MAC overall.
Auburn comes to Clemson on September 9, its first appearance in Death Valley since 2011 when Clemson ended Auburn’s 17-game winning streak. Clemson won 19-13 at Auburn last year, and it was the fewest points Clemson scored in a game all year. Clemson has won three in a row in the series since losing an overtime game at Auburn in 2010. The Auburn Tigers finished with an 8-5 record in 2016 and a No. 22 ranking in the final USA Today poll.
Clemson opens defense of its Atlantic Coast Conference Championship on September 16 at Louisville. The Tigers have in fact won the last two ACC titles and have a 44-7 record vs. ACC teams the last six years.
The Cardinals finished 9-4 last year and had a No. 20 final ranking by USA Today. They will be led by 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. The Tigers have won three straight in the series by seven points or less, the first time Clemson has done that in any series since the 1965-67 era when the Tigers won three straight over Duke by a touchdown or less.
Boston College comes to Clemson on September 23 in a battle for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy. The Tigers have won seven of eight and six in a row in the series since Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s interim head coach in 2008. That 27-21 victory at Boston College in 2008 was Swinney’s first win. He now has 89.
Clemson closes out a busy first month on September 30 with a trip to Virginia Tech. This will be a rematch of the 2016 ACC Championship game and will be Clemson’s first trip to Blacksburg since 2011 when the Tigers defeated the 10th ranked Hokies 23-3. Virginia Tech was a 10-game winner under first year head coach Justin Fuente in 2016.
Clemson returns home to face Wake Forest on October 7. The Demon Deacons finished with a winning season in 2016, including a bowl triumph over Temple. Clemson is 8-0 against Wake Forest since Dabo Swinney became head coach.
Clemson then plays its only non-Saturday game of the year at Syracuse on Friday the 13th of October. Clemson has won all four games in the series since the Orange joined the ACC for the 2013 season.
After an open date on October 21, the Tigers face Georgia Tech in Death Valley on October 28. Clemson won in Atlanta last year, a first for the program since 2003. The Tigers have won four of five in the series, including four in a row at Memorial Stadium since 2008.
The month of November begins in North Carolina with a contest at NC State. The two teams went to overtime last year before Clemson came away with a 24-17 victory. Clemson has won five in a row in the series and five of the last six in Raleigh.
Clemson plays its final conference game against Florida State at Memorial Stadium on November 11. The winner of this game has played for the ACC Championship every year since 2008. Both teams finished in the top 10 last year, as the Seminoles beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl to finish 10-3 and a No. 8 final ranking in both polls.
Clemson concludes the regular season with a pair of non-conference games. The Citadel will come to Clemson for the final home game. The Bulldogs were 10-2 last year and qualified for the FCS Playoffs. They finished No. 1 in the nation at the FCS level in rushing. Clemson concludes the regular season at South Carolina on November 25. The Tigers have won three in a row over their state rival.
Clemson 2017 Football Schedule
September 2 KENT STATE, 9 AUBURN, 16 at Louisville, 23 BOSTON COLLEGE, 30 at Virginia Tech
October 7 WAKE FOREST, 13 (Fri.) at Syracuse , 21 Open Date, 28 GEORGIA TECH
November 4 at NC State, 11 FLORIDA STATE, 18 THE CITADEL, 25 at South Carolina