New season for Clemson Football, same old strength of schedule problems
Clemson Football will once again go into a new season with eight ACC opponents and non-conference games against Notre Dame and South Carolina, just the same as last season.
Clemson fans, as well as many other ACC fanbases, usually poke fun at SEC fanbases that have reputations for rooting for their conference mates. Many of those same Clemson fans want to rip their hair out when the Tigers get no respect nationally because their ACC schedule is considered weak.
While Clemson fans may prefer to root against the Gamecocks, Fighting Irish, Tar Heels, Seminoles, and Hurricanes, the reality is that if they all lose, the Tigers’ schedule will continue to be disrespected. Even if Clemson finishes with a nearly spotless record and an ACC title, that might not be enough to get them into the College Football Playoff if their peers are perceived to have played a harder schedule.
If Clemson is fortunate enough to go undefeated or only have one loss, they will need the teams on their schedule to perform well against their best out-of-conference opponents. It might seem irrelevant to many fans, but the Tigers need Virginia Tech to look great when they visit Marshall this year. They need NC State to handle business when they visit UConn. They need Virginia and Syracuse to play well when they go on the road against Big Ten opponents.
Some games stand out more than others because they will get a fair amount of national attention. These are the five games that don’t involve Clemson, but could most impact the Tigers’ CFP chances in 2023.