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Previewing Clemson football’s 2017 schedule: Conference foes Louisville, Florida State provide largest challenge for Tigers

Ashley Stout, Staff

Clemson will be replacing a lot of important players this upcoming fall and many are already wondering if there is any hope of a repeat championship opportunity. The Tigers will be facing a tough conference schedule but an easier out-of-conference one. 

With the influx of new talent, it is possible that the team will be able to navigate their schedule, but there will be a lot of obstacles in their way.


Clemson vs. Kent State- Sept. 2, 2017

This match will mark only the fifth time the Tigers have played a team from the MAC conference, and the first time they will face the Golden Flashes. Kent State went 3-9 in the 2016 season, including losses to Penn State and Alabama. 

It is unlikely the Flashes will provide trouble for the Tigers, but with the struggles against Troy last season, it is impossible to know for certain. Kent State will be the first team to try and take down the reigning national champions, but certainly not the last.


Clemson vs. Auburn- Sept. 9, 2017

The battle of the Tigers will take place in Clemson on Sept. 9 when Auburn comes to town. It’ll be their first trip to Death Valley since 2011, when Clemson ended their 17-game winning streak. The two teams opened the 2016 season against one another and Auburn held Clemson to 19 points — the fewest scored by the Tigers in a single game all season.

Auburn will return with several important pieces of their offense. Quarterback Sean White and running back Kerryon Johnson led Auburn’s offense last season, and both will be returning to the team. To accompany them, seven of Auburn’s top 10 receivers could also return. 

There will likely be a quarterback battle at Auburn with the arrival of former Baylor Bear Jarrett Stidham, but it could be settled before week one. Auburn will lose a few key players on defense but most of its starters will return. 

Overall, Auburn should be in good shape come their trip to Death Valley.


Clemson at Louisville- Sept. 16, 2017

Circle this one on the calendar now. In week three the Tigers will travel to Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville to face reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and a tough Louisville team. Assuming both of these teams get through the first two weeks unscathed, this will likely be a highly ranked matchup, as it was in 2016.

However, this time around will have many differences from their 2016 game, and most of the differences don’t favor the Tigers. Jackson is more experienced than he was in their game last year, and he will also be playing at home. In 2016, it was obvious the crowd noise of Death Valley got to him and the entire Cardinals team, but that will not be a factor this time. In fact, the opposite might happen and the noise could cause the inexperienced Clemson offense to get out of rhythm early on.

Deshaun Watson also will not be on the field for the Tigers. Clemson cannot afford to be in a shootout with Louisville with a young quarterback in a hostile environment. The defense will have to stop Jackson from scoring in order to win this crucial battle in the ACC Atlantic.


Clemson vs Boston College- Sept. 23, 2017

Boston College is known for its stout defenses, and that could be a problem for the Tigers in 2017. The Tigers blew out the Eagles in Boston last year, but don’t necessarily expect the same score line this time. While Clemson should be able to outlast Boston College due to superior talent, it could be a very close and low-scoring affair.


Clemson at Virginia Tech- Sept. 30, 2017

The Hokies gave Clemson a fight in the 2016 ACC Championship game. With second-year Head Coach Justin Fuente at the helm, expect nothing less in the rematch. It will be the Tiger’s first trip to Blacksburg since defeating the 10th-ranked Hokies 23-3 in 2011.


Clemson vs. Wake Forest- Oct. 7, 2017

Clemson has dominated Wake Forest in their last 8 meetings. The Demon Deacons finished the 2016 season with a winning record, including a bowl win over Temple, but they shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Tigers.


Clemson at Syracuse- Oct. 13, 2017 

Friday night games are a rarity, but this will be the second season in a row that the Tigers hit the road for a Friday night matchup with an ACC foe. The Carrier Dome is not an easy place to play, as proven by the Tiger’s narrow escape in 2015. Syracuse has not beaten the Tigers since joining the ACC in 2013, and it seems unlikely that will change this season.


Bye Week-  Oct. 21, 2017

 The Tigers will get a break midway through the season.


Clemson vs. Georgia Tech- Oct. 28, 2017

The Yellow Jackets always put up a fight against the Tigers, but in recent years Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables has been able to stop their triple option attack. Clemson defeated Georgia Tech in Atlanta last season for the first time since 2003, but they have won four straight at Memorial Stadium. With a veteran-led defense, Clemson should be able to gain a hard-fought win against the Yellow Jackets.


Clemson at NC State- Nov. 4, 2017

Clemson fans probably haven’t forgotten about the last two meetings between the Tigers and the Wolfpack. 

Two years ago, Clemson barely escaped Raleigh with a shootout victory. Then, this past year, NC State took the Tigers to overtime at home after having a chance to win the game with a last-second field goal. 

This is one to watch out for since Clemson’s offense is very young, but the Tigers should be able to pull out a victory.


Clemson vs. Florida State- Nov. 11, 2017

Like the Louisville contest, this is one to mark down. In every year Since 2008, the winner of this matchup has played for the ACC Championship. If Clemson is able to defeat Louisville and Florida State is still undefeated in conference play, it is likely that streak will continue. Luckily for the Tigers, the game is at home. However, quarterback Deondre Francois is returning for the Seminoles and will likely be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC, as long as his offensive line is improved from last year. Dalvin Cook will be gone, but this game will be one of the most challenging for the Tigers on their way to another championship appearance.


Clemson vs. The Citadel- Nov. 18, 2017

Assuming Clemson doesn’t pull a South Carolina circa 2015, this game should be uneventful. However, The Citadel is a better team than many give them credit for. They finished last year with a 10-2 record and were first in the FCS in rushing. Clemson’s defense should be able to hold them in check and allow the Tigers to win by a large margin.


Clemson at South Carolina- Nov. 25, 2017

As always, Clemson concludes the regular season against in-state rival South Carolina. Thanks largely to Watson’s performances, the Tigers have won the past three games against the Gamecocks. South Carolina is still building, but they are on the upswing under Head Coach Will Muschamp. This year’s matchup will also take place in Columbia, making things tougher on the Tigers. 

This one could go either way, but the Tigers have a slight advantage thanks to their defensive talent.

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