The ACC released the 2022 football schedule yesterday and I was struck by the contrast from last years schedule. Without opening against a top 5 opponent, the Tigers should have time to acclimate to all the off-season staff and personnel changes.
The month of of September is deceiving. To open at Mercedes Stadium against Georgia Tech sounds simple enough but Geoff Collins’ Jackets played to the last second in last years match-up. Then, Furman enters Death Valley for their big payday.
Next the Tigers entertain the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. With a new coaching staff lead by Sonny Cumbie this team could still be working out some kinks. After a 3-9 2021 season, this appears to be a program in full rebuilding mode but they do have a reputation of being able to do the impossible but probably not in 2022.
Defending ACC Champion Wake Forest will welcome the Tigers to Groves Stadium for the last game in September. Wake Forest is expected to be right back in the thick of things in the ACC this season. This early divisional game is key for either team’s hope for the ACC Championship.
The month of October is the beginning of the meat of the conference schedule and it all begins with the NC State Wolfpack visiting Death Valley. The Tigers will be motivated to pay back Dave Doeren and the Pack for an overtime loss last season in Raleigh. Payback is a beautiful thing.
Then, the Tigers travel to Chestnut Hill to take on Jeff Hafley’s ever improving Boston College Eagles. They gave the Tigers all they could handle last year.
Next, Dabo Swinney’s Tigers will head to Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles. Mike Norvell and his Seminoles are still re-building so, the Tigers should have a fruitful visit to Doak Campbell Stadium. However, when The Tigers and the Seminoles square off, anything can happen.
To round out October, the Tigers entertain the Syracuse Orange in Death Valley. Looking on paper, this should be a cake walk for Swinney and company but Dino Babers always plays the Tigers well. I’m not foolish enough to claim a victory in this one quite yet. The Tigers end the month of October with everybody’s favorite opponent, the bye. Time to heal, rest and prepare for the second half of the 2022 season.
To start a ‘November to remember‘ and edge closer to the championship phase of the season, the Tigers travel to South Bend. Notre Dame is always a force to be reckoned with and under the direction of new head coach, Marcus Freeman and his staff, there will be new excitement surrounding the Irish. This game, as I see it is a pivotal one for Clemson.
Louisville has always played Dabo Swinney’s team to the bitter end. Scott Satterfield’s Cardinals are expected to be much improved. But aren’t they supposed to be every year?
Miami comes into Death Valley under new head coach Mario Cristobal with hopes of an improved season. The way too early predictions place the Hurricanes in the hunt for the Coastal Division Championship. This game location and it’s timing bodes well for the Tigers.
Then, the yearly matchup with the South Carolina Gamecocks. Shane Beamer exceeded expectations this past season and I suspect that will continue. Add QB Spencer Rattler to a revamped offense and at least, adds some intrigue. Again, location and timing bodes well for the Tigers.
2022 could mean many things for the Tigers, let’s hope mostly good. Whatever the ultimate outcome, the Tigers should be in the hunt for an ACC Championship game representing the Atlantic division.
Their opponent? North Carolina or Miami but the Coastal defies prediction and understanding. Everyone, everywhere are filled with hopeful anticipation because everyone, at this moment, is undefeated and possible national champions. Hope is a good thing. That said, it should be a fun, interesting, pivotal season for Swinney’s Clemson Tigers.
Here’s how I see 2022 playing out. Of course these projections hinge on whether or not the Tigers find their offensive identity. Like last year, this stellar defense should control the line of scrimmage in most matchups.
Sept. 5 (Monday): at Georgia Tech (W)
Sept. 10: Furman (W)
Sept. 17: Louisiana Tech (W)
Sept. 24: at Wake Forest (toss-up)
Oct. 1: N.C. State (W)
Oct. 8: at Boston College(W)
Oct. 15: at Florida State (W)
Oct. 22: Syracuse (W)
Oct. 29: OPEN
Nov. 5: at Notre Dame (Toss-up)
Nov. 12: Louisville (W)
Nov. 19: Miami (Toss-up)
Nov. 26: South Carolina(W)
Dec. 3: ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, N.C (Clemson vs. Miami)
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