Atlantic Division opponents: Clemson

I believe it is very possible for Syracuse to actually tie for first place in the Atlantic Division this year, with a 5-1 record. How could this happen? Syracuse will have to win all the right games, and I believe Scott Shafer is going to have the team pretty fired up on October 5. If Clemson comes in thinking they can win the game easily, and won't have to put in much effort, they will be upset. Even if the Tigers come in determined to win the game, they're going to have to get through a Syracuse team bringing its A-Game in front of a packed and raucous Carrier Dome crowd (or at least, it'd better be). Regardless of that outcome, Clemson looks to be a very tough opponent in general; they do not have a losing record against any other teams in Atlantic Division play.

Last summer, it looked like the Big 12 might grab Clemson and Florida St. There is a reason these two were considered as the primary targets - they generally field the ACC's two best football teams. Sure, sometimes Georgia Tech is pretty good, or Miami, or Virginia Tech... but Clemson and FSU are the top dogs in the ACC. We are fortunate to be in the Atlantic Division with these two; we can greatly increase the general perception of SU's football program by defeating these two on a regular basis. Granted, that is easier said than done...

The following is Clemson's record against Atlantic Division teams over the last eight seasons:

3-2 in 2005 (T-2ND):
Sep. 10 @ Maryland, W 28-24
Sep. 24 vs. #25 Boston College, L 16-13 OT
Oct. 1 @ Wake Forest, L 31-27
Oct. 13 @ North Carolina State, W 31-10
Nov. 12 vs. #16 Florida State, W 35-14

3-2 in 2006 (T-2ND):
Sep. 9 @ Boston College, L 34-33 OT
Sep. 16 @ #10 Florida State, W 27-20
Oct. 7 @ Wake Forest, W 27-17
Nov. 4 vs. Maryland, L 13-12
Nov. 11 vs. North Carolina State, W 20-14

4-1 in 2007 (1ST):
Sep. 3 vs. Florida State, W 24-18
Sep. 22 @ North Carolina State, W 42-20
Oct. 27 @ Maryland, W 30-17
Nov. 10 vs. Wake Forest, W 44-10
Nov. 17 vs. #18 Boston College, L 20-17

2-3 in 2008 (T-4TH):
Sep. 13 vs. North Carolina State, W 27-9
Sep. 27 vs. Maryland, L 20-17
Oct. 9 @ #21 Wake Forest, L 12-7
Nov. 1 @ Boston College, W 27-21
Nov. 8 @ #24 Florida State, L 41-27

4-1 in 2009 (T-1ST):
Sep. 19 vs. Boston College, W 25-7
Oct. 3 @ Maryland, L 24-21
Oct. 17 vs. Wake Forest, W 38-3
Nov. 7 vs. Florida State, W 40-24
Nov. 14 @ North Carolina State, W 43-23

3-2 in 2010 (T-2ND):
Oct. 16 vs. Maryland, W 31-7
Oct. 30 @ Boston College, L 16-10
Nov. 6 vs. #25 North Carolina State, W 14-13
Nov. 13 @ Florida State, L 16-13
Nov. 20 @ Wake Forest, W 30-10

4-1 in 2011 (T-1ST):
Sep. 24 vs. #14 Florida State, W 35-30
Oct. 8 vs. Boston College, W 36-14
Oct. 15 @ Maryland, W 56-45
Nov. 12 vs. Wake Forest, W 31-28
Nov. 19 @ North Carolina State, L 37-13

4-1 in 2012 (T-1ST):
Sep. 22 @ #4 Florida State, L 49-37
Sep. 29 @ Boston College, W 45-31
Oct. 25 @ Wake Forest, W 42-13
Nov. 10 vs. Maryland, W 45-10
Nov. 17 vs. North Carolina State, W 62-48

27 total Atlantic wins
13 total Atlantic losses

Record vs. Boston College: 4-4 (2-2 home, 2-2 road)
Record vs. Florida State: 5-3 (4-0 home, 1-3 road)
Record vs. Maryland: 5-3 (2-2 home, 3-1 road)
Record vs. Wake Forest: 6-2 (3-0 home, 3-2 road)
Record vs. North Carolina State: 7-1 (4-0 home, 3-1 road)
Record vs. USA Today Top 25: 4-5 (3-2 home, 1-3 road)

Away games: 12-9
Home games: 15-4
*10 game home winning streak dating back to 2009


Although Florida State may be considered by many to be the ACC's premier football squad, Clemson has actually been better than them since the inception of the Atlantic Division. Unlike FSU, Clemson has a winning record on the road in Atlantic play, and if their games at FSU are removed, Clemson has an 11-6 road record in the division. Not only that, but I'd fully expect senior quarterback and reigning ACC Player of the Year Tajh Boyd to be playing in the NFL next fall, perhaps even as a starter. Back along with Boyd is receiver Sammy Watkins, one of the best in the nation. Clemson is ranked #8 in the Coach's Poll for a reason; they're loaded with talent and experience. As great as they are, Syracuse is no stranger to tough opponents. Although the Orange lost, they were able to hang tough last year with #2 USC for three quarters, and also demolished Top Ten ranked Louisville in the Dome. Can't forget Syracuse's thrashing of #14 West Virginia in the Dome in 2011, a team which went on to stomp Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This year, we will find out how seriously Clemson takes Syracuse on Oct. 5. If they do not believe Syracuse to be any threat, Clemson may find themselves on the losing side. It has happened two years in a row to teams that ultimately went to BCS bowls. Syracuse, for the third time in three years, will have an elite opponent in the Dome on National TV. We all know what can and has happened under those circumstances. In addition, if Clemson loses their season-opener to Georgia, they are more likely to be ranked around #12 or so by the time they play Syracuse, so folks might not be so high on the Tigers by that point. Some of their weaknesses may have been exposed.

Clemson, like Florida St., is going to be a very tough W most years. One of the reasons I believe Syracuse has a chance against Clemson this season is because the game is at the Dome; Clemson has lost at home only 4 times in Atlantic Division play - once every two seasons, on average. Just like Florida St., Clemson has a 10-game home winning streak against Atlantic Division opponents. Curiously, their losses at home include two against Maryland ('08 & '06) and Boston College ('07 and '05; BC was ranked both times). In recent years, it seems Clemson has become nearly impossible to beat in Death Valley if you're an Atlantic Division opponent. Clemson truly is the toughest team this side of the ACC; they have not finished below second place in the division with the exception of one year, 2008.

Predicted record for Clemson in 2013 Atlantic Division:

5-1 (Wins against Wake, BC, and FSU at home; NC St. and Maryland on the road. Loss to SU on the road.)

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