With national title-type talent filling the roster, Clemson also has a schedule that sets up nicely for a serious run to the College Football Playoff. The Tigers won’t leave the south except for a trip to the most northern ACC school and they miss the best teams from the Coastal Division in crossover games.
There are two challenging road contests, one against an old coaching rival and one against his former program. But Dabo Swinney’s guys should be able to navigate their schedule once again and be in the thick of the championship chase in early December.
Clemson Tigers 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 7
Week 1 – Sept. 1 vs. Furman (Clemson, S.C.)
The Purple Paladins will travel 30 miles to the west to face a team that they haven’t beaten since 1936. Though they are coming off an FCS playoff season in 2017, they won’t beat the Tigers this year either.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 at Texas A&M (College Station, Texas)
Jimbo Fisher can’t seem to avoid Clemson. After leaving Florida State for Texas A&M, he will welcome the Tigers to College Station this year and will bring his team to Clemson in 2019.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. Georgia Southern (Clemson, S.C.)
The Eagles plummeted in 2017, firing head coach Tyson Summers in the middle of the year and finishing 2-10. Current head coach Chad Lunsford hopes to get improved play from sophomore quarterback Shai Werts.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.)
Dabo Swinney’s career as a head coach began with a loss to Georgia Tech on Oct. 18, 2008. While Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets got the best of Swinney’s Tigers early on, Clemson has beaten Georgia Tech three straight times and has won six of the last eight meetings.
Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Syracuse (Clemson, S.C.)
Clemson will remember last year's upset loss at the Carrier Dome when the Orange visit Memorial Stadium. The injury to Kelly Bryant was a major factor in that game, something that won't be an issue in 2018 considering the depth the Tigers have at the quarterback position.
Week 6 – Oct. 6 at Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
After a strong 2017, the Demon Deacons lost several key members of last year’s team. Quarterback John Wolford – who threw for 3,192 yards and 29 touchdowns – will be the most difficult to replace.
Week 8 – Oct. 20 vs. NC State (Clemson, S.C.)
Clemson has won 13 of the last 14 games against the Wolfpack, but the last three have been hard-fought battles. The 2016 championship team survived NC State because of a late field goal miss by the Wolfpack’s Kyle Bambard and last year in Raleigh the Pack came up short in the final moments.
Week 9 – Oct. 27 at Florida State (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Willie Taggart takes over for Jimbo Fisher at FSU and though the Seminoles suffered some heavy personnel losses on defense, quarterback Deondre Francois returns after missing almost all of the 2017 season with a knee injury.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 vs. Louisville (Clemson, S.C.)
Lamar Jackson’s stellar career at Louisville is now a thing of the past and the Cardinals lose a ton of productivity on defense. But head coach Bobby Petrino will still be there to run the offense and Jaylen Smith is a dangerous receiver.
Week 11 – Nov. 10 at Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
The nasty Clemson defensive line will have its hands full trying to stop sophomore A.J. Dillon. Clemson held BC’s star running back to just 57 yards on 18 carries last year, but Dillon really got rolling a couple weeks later, bulldozing his way to a 1,500-yard freshman season.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. Duke (Clemson, S.C.)
Duke and Clemson have not met up on the football field since 2012 and the Blue Devils have changed a lot since then. At that time, they were heading to their first bowl game in 18 years, a feat David Cutcliffe's team has now accomplished in five of the last six seasons.
Week 13 – Nov. 24 vs. South Carolina (Clemson, S.C.)
After losing to Clemson 56-7 in 2016, the Gamecocks again got drubbed by the Tigers last fall. South Carolina will return quarterback Jake Bentley and hopefully star receiver Deebo Samuel will be healthy at the end of the year.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.