Quick observations and thoughts on Clemson's 2020 football schedule
|Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 3:59 PM- -|
Clemson’s schedule once again sets up nicely for a run at the College Football Playoff.
The Atlantic Coast Conference released the 2020 league football schedule Wednesday, and like we’d been hearing for a few weeks now, the Tigers will open the season on the road at Georgia Tech. This is the first time Clemson has opened with an ACC foe in back-to-back years since a five-season stretch of in-conference season openers across the 1965-69 seasons.
There are a lot of things to like about the schedule, there are some things I don’t like, and there are a few statistical oddities thrown in.
WHAT I LIKE
The trip to Notre Dame. The last time Clemson played at Notre Dame I was 11 years old and lived about five hours from South Bend. The trek will be a little longer this time, but it has to be a bucket list item for just about any fan. Now, former Clemson player Sonny Cassady tells me that he lived in Indiana for several years and there is no way he is going to be in South Bend in early November, but I can’t wait.
The last time Clemson played in South Bend was back in 1979. The Tigers fell behind 10-0 but ran the ball 74 times – still a record for an opponent in Notre Dame Stadium - and went on to win 16-10. Imagine what Travis Etienne could do with those kinds of numbers!
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the programs, and I’ve covered two of them. Who has been to all four and plans to be at the fifth? Let me know.
Of course, Clemson legend Tim Bourret is a graduate of Notre Dame and I’ve made him promise that I get the Bourret Tour on gameday. If you love college football traditions – like I do – do yourself a favor and do a Google search for Trumpets in the Dome. I can’t wait for the Bourret Tour in South Bend.
You also have to like the fact that Clemson has an open date the week before the trip to Indiana, and because of the Friday night game at BC the Tigers have an extra day to prepare for the trip to FSU and new head coach Mike Norvell.
In a reprise of the ACC Championship Game, Virginia travels to Death Valley for the first time since 2009. I remember that game – it was a cool, sun-dappled afternoon in the Valley and Clemson came away with the 34-21 victory.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
Thursday night and Friday night games. Pure and simple. Trying to get through the Atlanta traffic on a Thursday afternoon will be miserable, which means most Clemson fans will simply need to get there early and just wait for kickoff. The good news? Atlanta has plenty of places to hang out while you’re waiting. Don’t get me wrong – the Saturday after a Thursday game is usually a good one for me because we never really get to watch a lot of other games or ESPN’s College GameDay, so that is a plus. Opening the season a few days early is also a plus, because the wait often seems interminable, but all in all I would rather all games be played on Saturday.
That brings us to Friday games. Every ACC team has to do it, but I’m with head coach Dabo Swinney. Fridays are for high school football, pure and simple. I love the Boston College trip because I love Boston and the surrounding area – over the years we’ve traveled to Cape Cod, to Martha’s Vineyard, and up to Maine. We’ve also seen everything there is to see in Boston, and my lone complaint is that it never seems to coincide with a game at Fenway Park.
The game will be Clemson's 60th Friday game all-time. Clemson is 30-24-5 all-time on Fridays. Clemson's last Friday victory came in the same location against the same opponent, when the third-ranked Tigers defeated the Eagles, 56-10, in Chestnut Hill in 2016.
There are also three consecutive home games in September. This is just nitpicking at this point, but I love it when the schedule is balanced and you can rotate away and home games. Three consecutive games in the South Carolina heat? Give me cooler weather (again, just nitpicky). However…It will be Clemson's first three-game homestand since 2015 when the Tigers hosted Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Boston College in three consecutive weeks en route to a national championship berth.
ODDITIES AND NOTES
*The schedule is front-loaded with ACC games, so the Tigers could clinch the ACC Atlantic in October. The only ACC game in November is a trip to Wake Forest. In fact, seven of the first eight games of the season are against ACC competition. The outlier is the third game of the season against Akron, and the ACC streak ends with the trip to Notre Dame. Clemson plays Notre Dame, The Citadel, and South Carolina – all non-conference games – in November.
*Clemson will attempt to earn a sixth consecutive victory against Florida State and continue its recent run of hot starts in the series when the Tigers face the Seminoles in Tallahassee on Oct. 10. The Tigers carried a 28-0 lead into halftime in both Clemson's 59-10 win in Tallahassee in 2018 and 45-14 win in Clemson in 2019. In the last two games between the two programs, Clemson has combined to post a 56-0 edge in points, a 614-128 advantage in total yards and a 35-10 advantage in first downs in the first half.
*Clemson has won 15 of its last 16 games against NC State, including each of the last eight, the longest winning streak by either team in the all-time series. The teams most recent meeting at Death Valley was in 2018 in a battle of undefeated Top 20 squads when Clemson ran out to a 34-0 third-quarter lead en route to a 41-7 victory on Homecoming.
*The Tigers have won each of their last six contests against the Gamecocks, and another Clemson victory this season would match the longest winning streak in series history by either program (seven by Clemson from 1934-40).
*Clemson enters the season with an active winning streak against every team on its schedule with exception of Akron, against whom the Tigers have never played. Clemson has active winning streaks against Georgia Tech (five), Louisville (six), Virginia (four), Boston College (nine), Florida State (five), NC State (eight), Syracuse (two), Notre Dame (three), The Citadel (17), Wake Forest (11) and South Carolina (six).
*After facing Georgia Tech in the season opener, Clemson will play Louisville in its second game, representing the first time since 2004 that Clemson has opened a season with back-to-back conference games. It will be Clemson's fifth such instance since the formation of the ACC in 1953, joining the 1958, 1959, 1965 and 2004 seasons.