CLEMSON — Three teams will make their first appearance in Death Valley, including first-year ACC member Louisville, according to the 2014 Clemson football schedule announced by the Atlantic Coast Conference last week.
Overall the Tigers will face nine teams that had winning records and eight squads that played in bowl games during the 2013 season. Five of those programs, Louisville, South Carolina, Florida State, Syracuse and North Carolina, won bowl games. The slate also includes three teams that won at least 11 games and finished in the top 15 of both polls, Florida State, Louisville and South Carolina.
“This schedule allows us to compete to reach the College Football Playoff,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “It is a challenging schedule. Just look at the beginning. We play at Georgia and at Florida State within the first three games.
“On paper, based on last year’s results, it looks to be more difficult than last year. Louisville was a 12-1 team ranked in the final top 15 and North Carolina finished strong winning six of its last seven games.” Louisville and North Carolina replace Maryland and Virginia on the ACC portion of Clemson’s schedule. Playing Georgia and South Carolina from the SEC certainly makes it difficult from a non-conference standpoint.”
Clemson finished the 2013 season with an 11-2 record and a number-seven final ranking by USA Today.
Clemson will have two weeks to prepare for Florida State as the Tigers have an open date on Sept. 13 prior to the Sept. 20 game. Clemson is 10-0 the last two years under Swinney with at least eight days to prepare for the next opponent.
For the fifth consecutive year Clemson will play two non-conference games against SEC teams, the third straight year Clemson will open and close the regular season with teams from that league. The Tigers travel to Athens, Ga., to face Georgia on Aug. 30 for the season opener, then will finish the regular season Nov. 29 with a home game against South Carolina.
It will be just the second time since 1958 Clemson has played on that date. The only other time was in 2008 when the Tigers defeated the Gamecocks, 31-14.
Clemson will play two non-conference opponents to open the season and will close the season with two non-conference foes. This will be the fifth consecutive year Clemson plays all eight of its ACC games consecutively.
The slate includes 11 Saturday games and one Thursday night game, at Wake Forest on Nov. 6. Clemson has won five consecutive games played on days other than Saturday, including bowl wins over top 10 teams to conclude each of the last two seasons. The Tigers have won three consecutive Thursday night games, including two years ago at Wake Forest.