Former Clemson standout weighs in on Tigers' 2022 schedule

Former Clemson standout weighs in on Tigers' 2022 schedule

Football

Former Clemson standout weighs in on Tigers' 2022 schedule

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A former Clemson standout weighed in on the Tigers’ 2022 schedule this week, breaking it down and highlighting what he sees as the biggest games on the slate.

On the Gramlich and Mac Lain podcast with Kelly Gramlich, former Clemson and All-ACC offensive lineman Eric Mac Lain gave his thoughts on some of the Tigers’ matchups this coming season, starting with the opener on Labor Day evening — Monday, Sept. 5 — when the Tigers face Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta before returning to Death Valley for Clemson’s home opener against Furman on Saturday, Sept. 10.

The opener, which is classified as a Georgia Tech home game despite being moved off-campus, will represent Clemson’s second season opener against Georgia Tech in the Dabo Swinney era, joining a 52-14 home win against the Yellow Jackets to open the 2019 season.

“I think it’s super unique, that start, Clemson playing on a Monday night,” Mac Lain said. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened. So, something that is really cool — the standalone game, everybody in the country will be watching that game that cares about college football. And then the turnaround — there isn’t a buy in between that. You have four days basically to prepare for Furman… bodies are bodies, injuries are injuries and things can happen. But it’s going to be really interesting.”

Mac Lain believes the first game against Georgia Tech (as opposed to last season’s opener against eventual national champion Georgia) followed by this year’s games against Furman and Louisiana Tech will give the Tigers some time to sort out their quarterback situation going into a five-game stretch on the schedule that includes consecutive games at Wake Forest (Sept. 24), vs. NC State (Oct. 1), at Boston College (Oct. 8), at Florida State (Oct. 15) and vs. Syracuse (Oct. 22) prior to Clemson’s open date on Oct. 29.

“The fact that you get to really solidify this quarterback spot and find out, OK… Everything that we’ve been hearing right now sounds like DJ (Uiagalelei) is back on a track to be in a positive way. But games are different and you find out very quickly,” Mac Lain said. “So, you have a nice little cushion here, and then of course you play Wake Forest, who won the ACC, and right after that, NC State.”

Mac Lain views the game vs. the Wolfpack as one that could be decisive in the ACC Atlantic race and determine which team represents the division in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.

“When I’m looking at this schedule and I’m looking at kind of best games or games that I’m really excited about… certainly NC State – I think everybody is excited for that game,” Mac Lain said. “Date pretty important there, October 1st, and is that an ACC Championship bid? Is that going to be who plays in Charlotte? I know Wake Forest fans are going to be like, ‘Wait a minute, hold on here, don’t disrespect us.’ But, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Following the open date, Clemson will travel to play Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 5.

The Tigers are 4-2 all-time against the Fighting Irish, and the programs split two meetings in 2020 in Notre Dame’s lone season of ACC membership. Clemson won the teams’ most recent matchup, a 34-10 win in the 2020 ACC Championship Game, avenging a 47-40 double-overtime loss at Notre Dame earlier that season in which several key players, including Trevor Lawrence and James Skalski, were unavailable.

Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards in Clemson’s last trip to Notre Dame, the most all-time by any player against the Irish.

“The last time DJ Uiagalelei played there, he just blazed every record possible,” Mac Lain said. “So, he’s going to be excited about that.”

After the trip to South Bend, Clemson will round out its 2022 regular season schedule with a trio of home dates against Louisville (Nov. 12), Miami (Nov. 19) and rival South Carolina (Nov. 26).

Mac Lain wonders if the contest against the Hurricanes under first-year Miami head coach Mario Cristobal is potentially an ACC title game preview.

“Versus Miami, second-to-last game of the year. Is that a potential ACC Championship preview? Are we going to see that again in a couple of weeks?” he said. “So, I’m excited for those games. I think it’s going to be really impressive just to see Clemson on this stretch. You go at Notre Dame, and then Louisville at home, Miami at home, South Carolina at home. That’s a rough November that is certainly going to have them well ready and tested for a championship and then a potential CFP run.”

–Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story

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