Is there a chance Clemson’s non-conference slate of games could change in 2021?
Though there does not appear to be any change at the moment, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said recently he is not ruling out the possibility of a change if an offer to play another non-conference Power 5 opponent comes along before the Tigers have to commit to the 2021 schedule.
“We always keep our ear to the ground,” he said. “Are there other opportunities? As you guys know, better than most, football schedules are being made ten to twelve to sometimes fifteen years in advance. So, it makes it a little bit difficult.
“We are not going to close the door on anything until right up until the time we are ready to play that schedule. I look at 2021 and it is little bit of an anomaly given what we have done over the last decade and what is in front of us after 2021.”
In the last decade, Clemson has played home-and-home series and a neutral site game with Power 5 schools such as Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
However, the Tigers will not play a second Power 5 non-conference opponent in 2021 because it was unable to schedule a home-and-home series with anyone due to the Notre Dame home-and-home in 2022 and ’23 and the annual rivalry matchup with South Carolina.
In 2021, Clemson will play the Gamecocks in Columbia to close out the season like it always does, but because it could not get a home game scheduled against another non-conference Power 5 opponent, the Tigers are currently scheduled to host SC State, Wyoming and UConn.
“This 2021 circumstance occurred because we played Notre Dame here in 2015 and we are going back in 20 for the backend of that home and home because Notre Dame had just gotten into the league,” Radakovich said. “So, that is a long-winded answer that we keep our ear to the ground, trying to see if there are other opportunities that might be out there.”
Starting in 2022, Clemson will get back to playing a second non-conference Power 5 foe with a return trip to Notre Dame in 2022, which begins successive matchups with the Irish again in 2023, Georgia (2024), LSU (2025 and ’26), Notre Dame (2027 and ’28), Georgia (2029 and ’30), Notre Dame (2031), Georgia in (2032 and ’33), Notre Dame (2034), Oklahoma (2035 and ’36) and Notre Dame (2037).
Of course, the Tigers play rival South Carolina every year in a home-and-home series with South Carolina visiting the Tigers on even years and Clemson going to Columbia on odd years.
As the 2019 season wound down, there was a lot made by rival fan bases and the national media about Clemson’s weak schedule, through no fault of the Tigers.
Clemson concluded its home-and-home series against Texas A&M in 2019, as the Aggies came to Death Valley for what at the time was a contest between two top 12 teams. However, after its loss to Clemson, the Aggies lost four other games, so the luster of Clemson’s win was taken off.
Archrival South Carolina had another down year in Columbia, so the Gamecocks’ 4-8 season did nothing to help the Tigers out either. Usually credited for playing one of the tougher non-conference schedules in the country, Texas A&M and South Carolina gave Clemson nothing to stand on.
To top it off, the ACC had one of its worst seasons in recent memory, as only Virginia finished ranked in one of the two major college football polls. The USA Today Coaches Poll ranked UVA No. 25 in their final rankings. The Cavaliers also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff Rankings.
When the ACC released the Tigers’ 2020 schedule, again the national media and rival schools ridiculed Clemson’s schedule, despite the fact the Tigers play at Notre Dame on Nov. 7 and host the rival Gamecocks at the end of the year. As it always does, Clemson hosts a Group of 5 school (Akron on Sept. 19) and an FCS opponent from South Carolina (The Citadel on Nov. 14).
As for the Tigers’ ACC schedule, it is highlighted with home games vs. Louisville (Sept. 12) and Virginia (Sept. 26), as well as back-to-back road games to Boston College (Oct. 2) and Florida State (Oct. 10). They open the season on Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech.
But if rival fans really dislike Clemson’s 2019 and 2020 schedules, then they are going to love the Tigers’ non-conference slate of games in 2021. Due to scheduling conflicts when Notre Dame contractually started playing ACC opponents, and due to its annual rivalry game with South Carolina, Clemson’s 2021 non-conference slate suffered the consequences.
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