Thoughts on 2019 football schedule: Tigers set up for another deep postseason run
|Thursday, January 17, 2019, 8:11 AM- -|
A simple text message came across my phone early Wednesday morning: You’re gonna love the football schedule.
They were right. For the second consecutive year, I love the way the Clemson football schedule sets up. The 2019 football schedule was released by the Atlantic Coast Conference Tuesday afternoon – wedding planning is in full swing across the region – and Clemson will kick off its 2019 campaign on Thursday, Aug. 29, when the team hosts Georgia Tech at Memorial Stadium in the first game ever to be broadcast on the soon-to-be-launched ACC Network.
That opener is the start of a crucial three-game stretch for the Tigers – no gimmes in the early going. Clemson will host the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, Sept. 7. Last season, Clemson defeated Texas A&M, 28-26, at Kyle Field, in front of an announced crowd of 104,794 people, the largest crowd ever to witness a Clemson football game in person.
That contest will feature two of college football’s best young quarterbacks in A&M’s Kellen Mond and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Mond threw for 430 yards in that loss to Clemson last season. Lawrence played early in the second half of that game, but it was now-Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant that finished the game for the Tigers.
Clemson's first road contest of the season will come in conference play when the Tigers face Syracuse on Saturday, Sept. 14. The Tigers defeated the Orange in memorable fashion in 2018, preserving their chance at an undefeated season by engineering a 13-play, 94-yard touchdown drive to earn the come-from-behind win last September.
Syracuse defeated Clemson two years ago in New York by a 27-24 score. In 2015 in the Carrier Dome, it wasn’t easy as Clemson defeated the Orange 37-27.
A home game against Charlotte and road game at UNC are next, followed by an open date. Up next is Florida St., a team the Tigers embarrassed in Tallahassee last season. Clemson owns a four-game winning streak in the series, the first school in ACC history to defeat the Seminoles in four straight years.
That brings up a road trip to hapless Louisville and new head coach Scott Satterfield, followed by home games against Boston College and Wofford. The Tigers close out the season against Wake Forest, NC State, and South Carolina.
That three-game series to open the season is huge. Georgia Tech isn’t as talented as Clemson, but a new head coach and a new system will breed some unfamiliarity. Texas A&M will be tough and playing at Syracuse has been tough recently.
TOUGHEST HOME GAME
Has to be Texas A&M. The Aggies will be ranked in the Top 25 to start next season and will be looking to avenge last year’s loss in College Station. With Clemson breaking in several younger players on defense, this could be a shootout.
TOUGHEST ROAD GAME
At Syracuse, the week after playing Texas A&M. The home game against the Aggies will be emotional for Clemson, and the Orange will be emotional in hosting Clemson the next week. However…….South Carolina might be option 1A to me here. Both Syracuse and NC State lose longtime QBs, while South Carolina returns the inconsistent Jake Bentley. Bentley chewed up the Clemson defense in a 56-35 loss last season, and with South Carolina’s tough schedule, the Gamecocks might be playing for their bowl lives.
It’s interesting to note that Clemson will have several streaks on the line this season. Clemson has won 10 consecutive games over Wake Forest, five straight games over South Carolina, four straight games over Florida St., four consecutive games over Georgia Tech (and 7-of-9), are 5-0 all-time against Louisville, eight consecutive games over Boston College, and seven straight games over NC State (and 14 of 15).
Clemson has two open dates – including the week before South Carolina – and they come at opportune times during the season. If Clemson wins the ACC Atlantic, they might know their opposition in the ACC Championship Game by then and can use part of the open week to prepare for the ACC title game.
There are no brutal road stretches – the Tigers won’t spend consecutive weeks on the road – and the home schedule sets up nicely. Clemson will be favored in every game they play and will be favored to not only make a return trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship and might start the season ranked No. 1 nationally.
Like in 2018, it’s all there for the Tigers to make another run.