Clemson may have come up short in Trevor Lawrence‘s final season at the College Football Playoff semifinals, but make no mistake: Dabo Swinney isn’t letting his foot off the gas. Oddly enough, the Tigers may be in even better shape heading into 2021.
D.J. Uiagalelei took over in Lawrence’s absence (thanks, coronavirus pandemic) against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and showed he’s capable of leading the perennial powerhouse going forward. Despite the loss, he threw for more than 400 yards, scored three touchdowns and threw zero interceptions. Not many other schools can say their backup is capable of that.
The Tigers also reeled in the No. 5 recruiting class in 2021 behind the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and Georgia. It included three five-star players and was better than SEC teams like Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee. Never sleep on Dabo’s sweet-talking abilities.
Clemson is in great position to once again win the ACC. Last year’s revised schedule featured a mostly all-conference schedule that boiled down to a regular season matchup with Notre Dame and an ACC Championship Game rematch. It was full of blowouts, like hanging 73 points on Syracuse and dismantling Virginia Tech 45-10, before coming to an end against Ohio State in New Orleans’ Sugar Bowl.
Lawrence leaving for the NFL Draft and no more Travis Etienne (who set the ACC rushing record last season) means Clemson will look like a different team. Throw in the fact that last year’s leading receivers Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell as well as left tackle Jackson Carman are NFL-bound as well doesn’t make the Clemson coaching staff’s job any easier.
Still, Clemson’s schedule once again looks like a cakewalk.
The 2021 12-game slate kicks off with a bang against the Georgia Bulldogs at a neutral site in Charlotte, North Carolina’s Bank of America Stadium. Clemson diehards don’t get much more after that.
The Tigers’ ACC slate that features some of the usual bad teams. Not even Florida State is competitive anymore. In total, this season’s conference opponents (Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, FSU, Louisville and Wake Forest) finished 35-49 overall last season. Clemson isn’t even playing the likes of Miami, who was at least decent last year despite still being crushed by Clemson.
A rival game against South Carolina just isn’t the same and I wouldn’t expect the USC to be SEC East contenders under first-year head coach Shane Beamer. Add in that Clemson scheduled non-conference Connecticut as a home game and there isn’t a lot to love about this year’s home games.
The Clemson Tigers will likely win a whole lot of blowouts in 2021. They’ll show face in the CFP yet again. But this NCAA football season schedule isn’t exactly one to get excited about.
Clemson Football Schedule 2021
Sept. 4: vs. Georgia (in Charlotte, N.C.)
Sept. 11: SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
Sept. 18: GEORGIA TECH*
Sept. 25: at NC State*
Oct. 2: BOSTON COLLEGE*
Oct. 15 (Friday): at Syracuse*
Oct. 23: at Pitt*
Oct. 30: FLORIDA STATE*
Nov. 6: at Louisville*
Nov. 13: UCONN
Nov. 20: WAKE FOREST*
Nov. 27: at South Carolina
* — Denotes conference games
ALL CAPS — Denotes home game at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, SC