Early Look At Tigers 2020 Opponents
Clemson spent a majority of the 2019 season being doubted by the national media because of their schedule. Week in and week out, the narrative centered on who the Tigers played, instead of how they played.
Having the strength of their schedule questioned is nothing new. It's something Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have had to deal with since kicking in that glass ceiling in 2015, when they made their first CFP apprearance.
Looking ahead to next season, it's possible the schedule doesn't face the same kind of scrutiny. However, don't expect the questions to cease entirely.
Georgia Tech (September 3): Like last season, the Tigers will open the season on a Thursday night against the Yellow Jackets, but this time on the road. Clemson hasn't opened up on the road since 2016 in Auburn, and doing so is never ideal, but is a challenge this program will embrace with open arms.
Georgia Tech should be improved in their second season running a more traditional offense under Geoff Collins. How much however, that's hard to say.
The Jackets signed a solid 2020 recruiting class, including two QB's. Can James Graham hold onto the job or can one of the incoming freshman be handed the keys to the offense? Either way Clemson should be a substantial favorite, but it probably won't be as easy a win as it was in 2019.
Louisville (September 12): The home opener comes against a Louisville team that looks to be trending upwards. The Cardinals will be in their second season under Scott Satterfield, and should be one of the ACC's better teams in 2020.
In his second season taking the snaps, Micale Cunningham should also be one of the conferences better quarterbacks. Like Clemson, the Cards open up on a Thursday night, and will have the same amount of prep time. This could be one of Clemson's toughest regular season games.
Akron (September 19): The Zips were winless last season and have lost 17 consecutive games. The only question about this one is how long the starters play.
Virginia (September 26): In a rematch of last years ACC title game, the Cavs visit Death Valley for the first time since 2009. UVA will likely field a strong defense next season, but are looking at having to establish a new identity on the offensive side. Bryce Perkins is gone after accounting for 78% of the teams total offense, as are two of their best receivers. A step back on offense is almost guaranteed.
Boston College (October 2): After three straight home games, the Tigers will hit the road for a Friday night affair in Chestnut Hill. Under first year head coach Jeff Hafley, the Eagles won't be featuring the run heavy offense that has become synonymous with the BC name.
While the specific type of offense they will run isn't known quite yet, they will be looking to throw the ball more, and will do so with a new trigger man, as Anthony Brown is in the transfer portal. They will also have to replace the production of RB AJ Dillon.
Florida State (October 10): The Willie Taggert experiment is over and Mike Norvell has now been brought in to try and salvage what's left of a sinking ship. A road game in Tallahassee used to spell doom for the Clemson program, but these days it has become just another game on the schedule. While the Seminoles should be improved under the new regime, there is still to much work to be done, including finding a quarterback, the most important position on the field.
NC State (October 17): Clemson will return home to host a Wolfpack team coming off a disastrous 2019 campaign. While it's hard to envision the Pack not improving at least somewhat, improving enough to challenge this Clemson team seems rather unlikely.
Syracuse (October 24): The Orange had a rather disappointing 2019 campaign, and have been a constant thorn in the side of Dabo Swinney's Tigers during Dino Babers time in Syracuse. Can the Orange give Clemson another run for their money or will it be another one sided affair like the game between the two last season?
Notre Dame (November 7): The Tigers kick off November with a road trip to South Bend to take on Notre Dame for just the fifth time in history. Clemson is 3-1 all time vs the Irish and hasn't played in South Bend since a 16-10 win in 1979.
This is the big one on the 2020 slate as both teams will be coming off of a bye week, and in all likelihood is a must win if the Tigers plan to make a sixth straight trip to the CFP. Playing in South Bend in November means the elements could be a factor, something this Clemson team hasn't had to deal with often.
Kickoff is set for 7:30, meaning at the very least it is likely to be brutally cold. This one will also make a rare appearance on NBC television for the Clemson football program.
Citadel (November 14): The Tigers welcome the Bulldogs back to Clemson for the teams annual game against FCS competition. This is another one in which the only question is how long the starters play.
Wake Forest (November 21): Clemson travels to Winston Salem for its final road game of the regular season. The Deacs are another team on the schedule that will be breaking in a new QB in 2020 after Jamie Newman transferred to Georgia. The Tigers will be heavily favored as they look for their 12th straight win over Wake.
South Carolina (November 28): The Tigers welcome the Gamecocks to town looking for a seventh straight win over their rival. That would tie the longest winning streak in the more than 100 year history of the series, matching the seven game streak Clemson had back in the 1940's.
The Tigers have dominated this match-up since Will Muschamp was hired. Trying to break that trend in Clemson doesn't bode well for the Gamecocks in year number five of the embattled head coach's tenure.