College Sports

Clemson’s 5 biggest games


Sept. 30

at Tallahassee, Fla.

Last year: FSU won 51-14 at Clemson

Why it’s important: Winner is lock to win ACC Atlantic.

FSU report: Several of Jameis Winston’s complementary pieces bailed for the NFL, but coach Jimbo Fisher reloaded with a top recruiting class.

Ed McGranahan says: “The thinking was the Seminoles with a freshman QB were ripe for picking in Death Valley last year. We know how it ended.”


Nov. 29

at Memorial Stadium

Last year: USC won 31-17 at Columbia

Why it’s important: Tigers trying to end five-game losing streak to Gamecocks.

USC report: Steve Spurrier returns with a new contract, and playing in Clemson or anywhere hasn’t been a problem for the past five seasons.

McGranahan says: “Spurrier and his staff outcoached Dabo Swinney and his in at least the past three games.”


Oct. 11

at Memorial Stadium

Last year: First year for Cardinals in ACC

Why it’s important: Louisville becomes one of Clemson’s top ACC rivals.

Louisville report: He’s a creative offense mind, but new coach Bobby Petrino will miss QB Teddy Bridgewater. It could take time to rebuild.

McGranahan says: “Louisville came within 23 seconds of playing for the national title, a 38-35 loss to UCF costing the Cards an undefeated season.”


Nov. 15

at Atlanta

Last year: Clemson won 55-31 at home

Why it’s important: Key division game

Tech report: QB Vad Lee transferred to James Madison (“triple option was never my thing”). But Tech was again one of the most prolific run-first teams in nation.

McGranahan says: “It appears the offensive tapestry coach Paul Johnson wove has begun to unravel, though he wouldn’t admit it after a 7-6 record last year.”


Aug. 30

at Athens, Ga., ESPN

Last year: Clemson won 38-35 at home

Why it’s important: Win moves Tigers way up in polls

Georgia report: Having Jeremy Pruitt fix the defense is the biggest issue. The Bulldogs can ram it down your throat with Todd Gurley.

McGranahan says: “Mark Richt revamped his defensive staff, assembled an impressive recruiting class and plunged forward after an 8-5 season.”