Three teams will make their first appearance inDeath Valley, including first-year ACC member Louisville, according to the 2014Clemson football schedule announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference onWednesday.
Overallthe Tigers will face nine teams that had winning records and eight squads thatplayed in bowl games during the 2013 season. Five of those programs,Louisville, South Carolina, Florida State, Syracuse and North Carolina, wonbowl games. The slate also includes three teams that won at least 11 games andfinished in the top 15 of both polls, Florida State, Louisville and SouthCarolina.
"Thisschedule allows us to compete to reach the College Football Playoff," saidClemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. "It is a challenging schedule. Just look at the beginning. We play at Georgia and at FloridaState within the first three games.
"On paper, based on last year's results, it looks to be more difficult thanlast year. Louisville was a 12-1 team ranked in the final top 15 andNorth Carolina finished strong winning six of its last seven games." Louisville and North Carolina replace Maryland and Virginia on the ACCportion of Clemson's schedule.
"PlayingGeorgia and South Carolina from the SEC certainly makes it difficult from anon-conference standpoint."
Clemsonfinished the 2013 season with an 11-2 record and a number-seven final rankingby USA Today.
Clemsonwill have two weeks to prepare for Florida State as the Tigers have an opendate on September 13 prior to the September 20 game. Clemson is10-0 the last two years under Swinney with at least eight days to prepare forthe next opponent.
For thefifth consecutive year Clemson will play two non-conference games against SECteams, the third straight year Clemson will open and close the regular seasonwith teams from that league. The Tigers travel to Athens, GA to face Georgia onAugust 30 for the season opener, then will finish the regular season November29 with a home game against South Carolina. It will be just the secondtime since 1958 Clemson has played on that date. The only other time was in2008 when the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks, 31-14.
Clemsonwill play two non-conference opponents to open the season and will close theseason with two non-conference foes. This will be the fifth consecutive yearClemson plays all eight of its ACC games consecutively.
Theslate includes 11 Saturday games and one Thursday night game, at Wake Forest onNovember 6. Clemson has won five consecutive games played on days otherthan Saturday, including bowl wins over top 10 teams to conclude each of thelast two seasons. The Tigers have won three consecutive Thursday nightgames, including two years ago at Wake Forest.
Clemsonopens the 2014 season at Georgia on August 30, tied for the earliest start to aseason in Clemson history. Clemson defeated a fifth-ranked Georgia teamat Clemson last year in one of the top college games of the year, 38-35. Clemson has lost three in a row in Athens and has not won in SanfordStadium since David Treadwell's 46-yard field goal on the last play of the gamegave Danny Ford's team a 31-28 victory in 1986.
Clemsonopens its home schedule against South Carolina State on September 6. Itwill be the second consecutive year the Bulldogs have played at Clemson. Lastyear South Carolina State finished with a 9-4 record and reached the FCSplayoffs.
Twoweeks later Clemson will be play defending national champion Florida State. It will be the earliest meeting on the calendar between the two schoolsin Tallahassee since 2006 when the Tigers last won there, a 27-20victory on a last minute touchdown by James Davis.
Thewinner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has gone on to win the ACCAtlantic Division each of the last five years.
NorthCarolina comes to Clemson on September 27th for the first of three straight ACCgames in Memorial Stadium, the first time that has happened since 1991. Each of the last two appearances for North Carolina in DeathValley, the Tigers have celebrated a reunion for its 1981 National Championshipteam and the Clemson team has responded by scoring 110 total points. No reunionis scheduled this year. Clemson has won four of the last five against the TarHeels, including three in a row at Death Valley.
Clemsonwill welcome another school from the Tar Heel state, the NC StateWolfpack, the following Saturday. This will be the first timeClemson has played North Carolina and NC State at home in consecutive games. Clemson has won nine of the last 10 in the series, with the Wolfpackincluding five in a row at home since Philip Rivers and company defeated theTigers at Memorial Stadium in 2002.
Louisville'sfirst trip to Clemson concludes the home stand on October 11. Marshall (1999) and Miami (FL) (2005) are the only programs to wintheir first game in Clemson Memorial Stadium since 1977.
Clemsonreturns to the road for the first time in 28 days when the Tigers play atBoston College on October 18. The Tigers have a 5-4 lead in the seriessince the Eagles joined the conference for the 2005 season. This year'sgame will be the 10th time the two schools play for the O'Rourke-McFaddenTrophy.
For thesecond consecutive home game, a first-time visitor to Death Valley is on theschedule as the Syracuse Orange come to Clemson. It will be Clemson'slast home ACC game of the year. Clemson won its first game in the CarrierDome this past season.
Clemson'snext game is on a Thursday night at Wake Forest, the third time since 2008 thatClemson has played in Winston-Salem on a Thursday night. The Tigers willface a Demon Deacons team led by first-year coach Dave Clawson, the onlyfirst-year coach Clemson will face this year.
OnNovember 15 Clemson wraps up its ACC slate at Georgia Tech. The Tigershave beaten the Yellow Jackets each of the last two years, but have not won atTech since 2003.
Clemsonconcludes the regular season with home games against first time opponentGeorgia State and state rival South Carolina. It is just thesecond time since 2006 that Clemson has finished the regular season with consecutivehome games.
2014 Clemson Football Schedule
Aug. 30 at Georgia
Sept. 6 SOUTHCAROLINA STATE
Sept. 20 at Florida State
Sept. 27 NORTHCAROLINA
Oct. 4 NC STATE
Oct. 11 LOUISVILLE
Oct. 18 at BostonCollege
Oct. 25 SYRACUSE
Nov. 6 #at WakeForest
Nov. 15 at GeorgiaTech
Nov. 22 GEORGIA STATE
Nov. 29 SOUTHCAROLINA
# Thursday night game
All game times TBA