Kelly Bryant and the Tigers have to make trips to Tallahassee and College Station this fall
The Clemson Tigers always end the season by playing the boys from Columbia. Most years, there is another SEC team on the schedule in September, making things even more challenging. The past two years -- and five times since 2010 -- that SEC squad has been Auburn. This year it will be a program that Clemson has not seen since 2005, but whose coach has been a regular foe for the past eight seasons.
Overall, this is a perfect schedule for a team chasing a championship. There are big-name opponents both in and out of conference, but the Tigers should be considerable favorites in just about every game.
Here is a ranking of the games on Clemson's regular season schedule from easiest matchup to most difficult.
12. Sept. 1 vs. Furman
Clemson always plays one in-state FCS program and this year it's Furman's turn. The Purple Paladins made the FCS playoffs last year but that won't impress the Tigers much.
11. Sept. 15 vs. Georgia Southern
The Eagles went from being a 9-4 GoDaddy Bowl champ in Willie Fritz's last year as head coach in 2015 to a 2-10 mess in just two years.
10. Sept. 29 vs. Syracuse
Quarterback Eric Dungey should be able to generate offense for the Orange. But Clemson remembers last year's setback at the Carrier Dome and will be more than ready for this game.
9. Nov. 17 vs. Duke
The Blue Devils should have a nice offensive balance with quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Brittain Brown. They also have a star on defense in linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. But a suspect offensive line could struggle against the dynamic Clemson defense.
8. Oct. 6 at Wake Forest
Not only will the Deacons have to replace star quarterback John Wolford, the passing game took another big hit when wide receiver Tabari Hines transferred to Oregon. On defense, lineman Duke Ejiofor and safety Jessie Bates will be tough to replace.
7. Sept. 22 at Georgia Tech
The Tigers get the Jackets in their ACC crossover game every year, so the Tech option attack will not catch them off-guard. The game is in Atlanta, but Clemson has won the last five meetings in Bobby Dodd Stadium.
6. Nov. 3 vs. Louisville
Quarterback Jawon Pass came to Louisville with considerable fanfare, but he is not Lamar Jackson. The defense also loses a lot of production and has a new coordinator in veteran Brian Van Gorder.
5. Nov. 10 at Boston College
Steve Addazio's Eagles are slowly getting better. End Zach Allen will lead Boston College's always tough defense and the Eagles now have a certified star on offense in running back AJ Dillon.
4. Oct. 20 vs. NC State
This game is at home off a bye week against a team that lost a ton of production, especially on defense. On paper, it should be an easy Clemson win. But on paper, the last three contests shouldn't have been as difficult as they were.
3. Nov. 24 vs. South Carolina
In a series filled with streaks, Clemson has now won four in a row, the last two by a combined score of 90-17. The Gamecocks are making strides and the Jake Bentley-Deebo Samuel passing connection should be ready to go in 2018.
2. Sept. 8 at Texas A&M
In terms of pure talent, A&M does not match up to Clemson. But Kyle Field will be raucous as Jimbo Fisher coaches his first big game for the Aggies.
1. Oct. 27 at Florida State
Quarterback Deondre Francois should be completely healthy and there is a new vibe around the program with Willie Taggart in charge. The Seminoles are not the big dogs of the ACC anymore and they will be looking to climb back towards the top this fall.
-- Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.