CLEMSON, SC - For the fourth time in in the last five years defending National Playoff Finalist Clemson will open and close its season against teams from the Southeastern Conference according to the schedule released by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday. The Tigers open their 12-game slate at Auburn on September 3, and close it with a home game against South Carolina on November 26.
In between Clemson will play 10 contests, eight against teams from the ACC. The Tigers were 8-0 in the league last season, then won the ACC title for the second time in five years with a league championship win over North Carolina. In 2016, Clemson has ACC road ACC games against Georgia Tech, Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest and home league games with Louisville, N.C. State, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
"This schedule follows our formula from a non-conference standpoint with our traditional rivalry game against South Carolina, plus another game from a Power Five Conference," said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. "This year that team is Auburn and they will come to Clemson in 2017. Then we pick up Texas A &M for two years before we play Notre Dame again in 2020.
"It is another challenging schedule overall. We will have to be at our best from the first week as Auburn is a very difficult place to play. We saw that in 2010 when we took a National Championship Auburn team to overtime.
"I like the position of the open date in week eight, closer to the middle of the season than we have had in recent years. It is also just the second time in 24 years we have not had to play consecutive games on the road, which is good for our team and our fans.
"We have four new teams on the schedule, including an outstanding Pittsburgh program, who we have not played in nearly 40 years."
Clemson opens the season at Auburn, the first time the Tigers have been to the Plains since the third week of the 2010 season when the Tigers took Cam Newton and the Tigers to overtime before dropping a 27-24 contest. Clemson has beaten Auburn twice since that meeting six years ago.
The Tigers have consecutive home games scheduled September 10 and 17, respectively. Troy comes to Clemson for the second time in history on September 10 and South Carolina State follows the next week. Clemson has a 16-game home winning streak entering 2016, the second longest active streak in the nation.
The Tigers go back on the road on September 22, just five days after the South Carolina State game, to face Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Clemson suffered its last regular season loss at Georgia Tech in November of 2014.
Clemson's ACC home opener is against Louisville on October 1. The Tigers have won each of the first two meetings with the Cardinals since they joined the ACC, but both games have been close. Clemson won the meeting at Clemson in 2014 by a 23-17 score, then downed the Cardinals, 20-17, in Louisville last year. That was the second closest game Clemson had during its undefeated regular season in 2015.
Swinney's team then plays at Boston College on Friday night October 7. It will be Clemson's first Friday night regular season game in 60 years, but the Tigers did gain victory in their last Friday night game at any point in the season. That came in the 2014 Orange Bowl when Clemson beat a sixth-ranked Ohio State team in Miami, 40-35.
Clemson opens the second half of its schedule with a home game against an NC State team that has been to a bowl game each of the last two years under Head Coach Dave Doeren.
After an open date. Clemson heads to Tallahassee, Fla. to face Florida State on October 29, a program that has won at least 10 games each of the last four years. The winner of the Clemson vs. Florida State game has won the ACC Atlantic Division every year since 2008, Swinney's first year at Clemson.
Clemson closes the season with home games in three of its last four contests, the first time that has been the case since 2012. Syracuse comes to Clemson on November 5, then Pittsburgh plays at Clemson for the first time on November 12.
Clemson concludes its ACC schedule and its road schedule on November 19 at Wake Forest. South Carolina will be the Senior Day opponent in Death Valley on November 26.
•Swinney's Tigers have 10 games on Saturdays, one on a Thursday and one on a Friday. All seven home games are on Saturdays, but the Tigers will play at Georgia Tech on a Thursday and at Boston College on a Friday night. Both of those games will be nationally televised by ESPN.
•It will be Clemson's first regular season game on a Friday since November 16, 1956 when the Tigers lost at Miami (FL), 21-0. Clemson's last regular season win on a Friday actually took place in Boston. The Tigers defeated Boston College at Braves Field, 13-0 on Halloween, 1952.
•As a result of the Thursday and Friday road games in the first half of the schedule, Clemson will not have a road Saturday game between September 4 and October 28.
Clemson Football Schedule 2016
3 at Auburn, 10 Troy, 17 South Carolina State, 22 at Georgia Tech.
1 Louisville, 7 at Boston College, 15 NC State, 29 at Florida State