SEPT. 17 • VS. LOUISIANA TECH • MEMORIAL STADIUM, CLEMSON, S.C.
Clemson and Louisiana Tech will square off for the fourth time in history, as under Tommy Bowden Clemson went 3-0 against the Bulldogs, including a 51-0 shutout in the squads’ most recent meeting in 2006.
The Sept. 17 date should hopefully result in better weather than the teams’ first meeting, which took place in Boise, Idaho in the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl when Clemson earned a 49-24 win in snowy conditions that featured the second-coldest recorded kickoff temperature in school history, 32 degrees.
This will be the inaugural season under new head coach Sonny Cumbie. He brings with him a high-octane offensive philosophy and a hard-hitting, physical defensive style, as La Tech fans can look forward to a new brand of football.
Even though the Bulldogs compete in Conference USA, this program has had past success against Power-5 opponents. Even researching this team, there are many unknowns. Coming into Death Valley in Week 3, the Bulldogs will be motivated. Luckily, so will the Tigers. I suspect the offense will have answered some of those lingering questions following 2021.
Again, if Wes Goodwin’s guys stay healthy, this 2022 edition of the defense can rise to any challenge the Bulldogs might offer. Hopefully, the Tigers won’t be looking ahead to its game against Wake Forest. I look for this game to be over, for all intent and purpose, by the third quarter.
SEPT. 24 • AT WAKE FOREST • TRUIST FIELD, WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
Wake Forest last defeated Clemson on Oct. 9, 2008, a loss that led to the departure of the aforementioned Bowden and led to the elevation of Swinney four days later. In the time since, Clemson has posted a 13-0 record against the Demon Deacons, making Wake Forest one of five ACC programs against whom Swinney is undefeated (Duke, Louisville, Virginia and Virginia Tech). Clemson will try to add to that mark when the two square off on Sept. 24.
Dave Clawson’s team ended the 2021 campaign with a Gator Bowl win over Rutgers, 38-10. The Demon Deacons fell short against Pitt in the ACC Championship, a 45-21 loss. Entering 2022, though, the team is once more among the ACC’s best. They will be a more than adequate challenge for the Tigers in week four.
Truist Stadium in Winston Salem can be a tough but somewhat quiet venue, but things could be a little louder this year. Wake’s emergence under the last several seasons have the folks crowding in to support the Deacons. Clawson is an admirable, worthy opponent. His teams are always prepared, always gritty and always classy.
My main focus in this one is Clemson’s offense vs. the Wake Forest defense. Both of theses respective units struggled at times last season. This game should be a good, close contest for the first three quarters but ultimately the Clemson defense will lay the ground work for the Tigers’ fourth victory of the season. One word of possible concern, while it’s not usually an issue with Swinney’s teams, the Tigers can Ill afford, even a peek ahead to it’s next, huge conference matchup.
Tomorrow, I’ll breakdown one of the two games that could present the Tigers their greatest challenge of 2022.
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