Clemson opens the Atlantic Coast Conference part of its schedule Saturday, so it can only mean one thing … it’s on the road.
For the seventh consecutive year and for the eighth time in the Dabo Swinney era, the second-ranked Tigers will open ACC play on the road.
“I think this is seven years in a row we have opened up conference play on the road. I’m not sure how we got so lucky,” Swinney said. “It is what it is.”
Clemson is 4-3 under Swinney when opening ACC play on the road, but it has won its last three games in this situation. The Tigers are 1-1 against Saturday’s opponent in conference road openers.
That opponent of course is Georgia Tech, who the Tigers (3-0) meet at 3:30 p.m. in Atlanta on Saturday.
“It is a challenge,” Swinney said. “To win the (Atlantic) division, you have to be able to win on the road. You get eight conference games and you get no mulligans. They all count. They all matter. They are all huge.”
Then throw in the fact Clemson is opening against the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense makes it even more of a challenge and it’s Clemson-Georgia Tech.
“It is one of the better rivalries in this conference, in my opinion,” Swinney said. “There is just a lot at stake on Saturday. The first quarter of our season is over. I think we have learned a lot. We still have a lot of improving to do and we got an eager bunch to do just that … coaches and players.
“We are excited about kicking off the second quarter and the challenge that is coming our way Saturday in Atlanta … a place where we have not had really a ton of success.”
Clemson has lost five of its last six at Bobby Dodd Stadium. However, it won the last time it visited Atlanta, a 26-7 victory in 2016.
“This senior class has a unique opportunity,” Swinney said. “They take a lot of pride in their legacy here and I know we will get a tremendous effort from our guys. I hope we play our best game. That is really what our goal is this week.”
The Tigers have won three straight against Georgia Tech and the seniors are looking to become just the second senior class in school history to win four straight against the Yellow Jackets. Only the 1993-’96 seniors have done it.