Clemson football may have more ranked opponents on schedule than we thought

Coming into the 2021 season, there was a sentiment that the Clemson football team may only face one ranked opponent– the Georgia Bulldogs— in its entire regular season.

As we look forward following the first week of the year, though, that may not actually be the case.

While the Tigers don’t currently have another ranked opponent on the schedule, there is promise that a few of their remaining teams might crack the top-25 (and beyond) before it’s all said and done.

We’re particularly looking at:

  • NC State
  • Boston College
  • Pittsburgh
  • ACC Championship opponent

While none of these teams are ranked, they all showed promise in Week 1 and another strong week could propel them into the top-25.

Having ranked opponents is important for Clemson football this season

NC State absolutely walked the dog on USF and the Wolfpack now have a matchup against Mississippi State this Saturday evening. If they win that one, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be inside the top-25 and, potentially, could even move up inside the top-20 before the Tigers play them in Raleigh later this month.

Boston College, in my opinion, should’ve been close to being ranked to begin the season. The Eagles have an experienced offense, led by QB Phil Jurkovec, and they’ve got some physical pieces.

If they beat UMass and Temple in the next two weeks, they’ll have a home matchup against SEC opponent Missouri. With a win there, they’d be inside the top-25 before making the trip down to Death Valley the first weekend in October.

Pittsburgh is another team with a chance to crack the rankings. The Panthers have a road tilt against a bad Tennessee team this weekend in which they’ll be given major credit if they win.

After that, they’d have three expected wins against Western Michigan, New Hampshire and Georgia Tech before going to Blacksburg to take on a Virginia Tech team that may be ranked as well. They’d play Clemson the following week in Pittsburgh.

Finally, the Tigers have a chance to take on a ranked opponent– hopefully one inside at least the top-15–in the ACC Championship game. UNC and Miami didn’t get off a great start with losses this weekend, but they’re both still ranked inside the AP Top-25 heading into Week 2.

When you add in Virginia Tech, Virginia and Pittsburgh in the Coastal who could all potentially vie as ranked teams, you’re talking about a solid opportunity for the Tigers to pick up another ranked win in the conference title game.

It’s going to be important for the Clemson football team this season as they look to get back in the CFB Playoff hunt that they have at least a couple opponents emerge as ranked teams. There are some teams who look poised to make a run, but nothing can be guaranteed until it happens.