Clemson non-conference schedule ranked as one of the toughest in nation
The Sporting News recently released a story on the toughest non-conference schedules for the 2011 season, and the Clemson Tigers were deemed to have the 10th-most difficult schedule among all BCS teams.
The Tigers open up the season with three consecutive non-conference games – all at home – hosting Troy in the opener, Wofford in week two and defending national champion Auburn in week three. The Tigers then play eight consecutive ACC games before ending the season against in-state rival South Carolina in Columbia.
LSU was deemed to have the most difficult schedule of the BCS schools, but four ACC schools make the Sporting News top ten list.
LSU: vs. Oregon (Dallas), Northwestern State, at West Virginia, Western Kentucky
2. Pittsburgh: Buffalo, Maine, at Iowa, Notre Dame, Utah
3. Colorado: at Hawaii, California, Colorado State (Denver), at Ohio State
4. Miami: Ohio State, Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, at South Florida
5. Ohio State: Akron, Toledo, at Miami, Colorado
6. Florida State: Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, Oklahoma, at Florida
7. Georgia: vs. Boise State (Atlanta), Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State, at Georgia Tech
8. UCLA: at Houston, San Jose State, Texas
9. USC: Minnesota, Syracuse, at Notre Dame
10. Clemson: Troy, Wofford, Auburn, at South Carolina
Mississippi St. has the easiest non-conference schedule of the BCS schools, playing at Memphis and UAB while hosting Louisiana Tech and Tennessee-Martin.
THE BOTTOM 10
1. Mississippi State: at Memphis, Louisiana Tech, at UAB, Tennessee-Martin
2. Indiana: Ball State, Virginia, South Carolina State, at North Texas
3. N.C. State: Liberty, South Alabama, at Cincinnati, Central Michigan
4. Texas Tech: Texas State, at New Mexico, Nevada
5. Washington State: Idaho State, UNLV, at San Diego State
6. UConn: Fordham, at Vanderbilt, Iowa State, at Buffalo, Western Michigan
7. Rutgers: North Carolina Central, at North Carolina, Ohio, Navy, at Army
8. Kentucky: Western Kentucky, Central Michigan, Louisville, Jacksonville State
9. Tennessee: Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Middle Tennessee State
10. Virginia Tech: Appalachian State, at ECU, Arkansas State, at Marshall
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told TigerNet on Thursday that he doesn’t understand when fans sometimes complain about the Tigers’ schedule.
“I think our schedule is plenty tough enough,” Swinney said. “We have a good setup here, but this conference is very difficult to get through. Every single week you play somebody that is pretty good. Every week it is a tough task. As for the non-conference schedule, we always play South Carolina, and they are an SEC school and in-state rival.
“And then, we always play a team from our state that is from the Division 1-AA (FCS) ranks. That is just good for us, and it is good for them. It keeps the money in the state, so to speak. And everybody does. What we try to do is play one marquee game, and one mid-major game. That is a good formula, and if you want to have success that is what you do.”
Swinney said that opening the season against three non-conference opponents will only help Clemson when ACC play commences against Florida St. on September 24th.
“For us, the three non-conference games are an opportunity to prepare us for the conference,” he said. “For us, winning the conference is the objective. We are playing Auburn this year and next year, and then we have Georgia the next two after that.
“That is as good a schedule as you could possibly want to have. We can win a championship with that schedule. We won’t be in a situation where we win all our games and not be in the hunt. If we win all of our games, we will either win or be right there in it.”
The ACC actually leads the nation in games against BCS teams, according to the report.
Games against BCS teams: ACC (44 percent); Pac-12 (41 percent); Big East (40 percent); Big 12 (30 percent); Big Ten (29 percent); SEC (25 percent).
Games against non-BCS teams: Big Ten (50 percent); Big 12 (50 percent); SEC (50 percent); Big East (40 percent); Pac-12 (38 percent); ACC (29 percent).
Games against FCS teams: ACC (27 percent); SEC (25 percent); Big Ten (21 percent); Pac-12 (21 percent); Big East (20 percent); Big 12 (20 percent).