Clemson football schedule and predictions takeaways:
- Clemson faces the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 1 of the college football season.
- The Tigers’ bye is Week 6, and is set between ACC matchups vs. Boston College and at Syracuse (Oct. 2 and Oct. 15).
- Sportsnaut predicts Clemson will end the regular season with an 11-1 record.
The Clemson Tigers have been a constant fixture in the College Football Playoff, but after losing No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence to the NFL, they’ll have their work cut out to remain among the FBS elite in 2021.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has tons of talent on his team, yet replacing someone like Lawrence and tailback Travis Etienne is difficult from a production and leadership standpoint.
Continue reading for a full Clemson football schedule and game-by-game predictions for the 2021 campaign, preceded by an overview of the top players on the Tigers’ roster.
Clemson football schedule predictions, roster outlook
Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.
Clemson football roster outlook
All our predictions are based on the Tigers starting these key players:
- QB – D.J. Uiagalelei
- RB – Lyn-J Dixon, Kobe Pace, Chez Mellusi, Darien Rencher
- WR – Justyn Ross, Joseph Ngata, E.J. Williams, Frank Ladson Jr.
- TE – Braden Galloway, Davis Allen
Clemson lost their top three pass-catchers from 2020, including Etienne, and D.J. Uiagalelei is taking over under center for Lawrence. Uiagalelei showed out last season when pressed into action, which suggests he can be a worthy encore act to his legendary predecessor. With a deep backfield, two capable receiving tight ends, and Justyn Ross back from injury after missing 2020, look for the Tigers to lean on the run and play-action/RPOs more this year.
Week 1 – vs. Georgia Bulldogs
|Saturday, Sept. 4||7:30 PM||ABC|
- Spread: Clemson -4 (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Georgia +145; Clemson -182
If this game were at home instead of on a neutral field (Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte), maybe Clemson would be the pick. However, Kirby Smart is an excellent defensive mind and has a viable quarterback in JT Daniels. This is a rough opener for a Tigers offense that has so many moving pieces. The Bulldogs are bound to win in a tight one.
- Week 1 prediction: Georgia 27, Clemson 20
Week 2 – vs. South Carolina State Bulldogs
|Saturday, Sept. 11||5:00 PM||ACC Network|
After the difficulty of Week 1, Clemson can breathe a sigh of relief against an FCS opponent. It’s not like South Carolina State is a total pushover, but there’s no chance the massive underdogs go into Death Valley and pull off a massive upset. Under the assumption they lose to kick off the season, the Tigers will be fired up to get back after it.
- Week 2 prediction: Clemson 49, South Carolina State 7
Week 3 – vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
|Saturday, Sept. 18||3:30 PM||FS1|
The Yellow Jackets are still transitioning out of their flexbone, triple option era on offense, so they’re still far off from being truly competitive in the ACC. Opening conference play with an adversary it beat by a score of 73-7 in 2020 bodes well for Clemson to get some early momentum going.
- Week 3 prediction: Clemson 56, Georgia Tech 14
Week 4 – @ NC State Wolfpack
|Saturday, Sept. 25||TBD||TBD|
Despite producing a decent number of NFL player in recent years, the Wolfpack just don’t have the chops talent-wise to hang with an opponent like the Tigers. This may be Clemson’s first true road trip of the 2021 season, but there’s no need for its fans to be on alert here. It should be an easy victory to improve to 2-0 in the ACC.
- Week 4 prediction: Clemson 35, NC State 10
Week 5 – vs. Boston College Eagles
|Saturday, Oct. 2||TBD||TBD|
In Uiagalelei’s first start as a freshman in place of Lawrence, the Eagles gave Clemson all it could handle as the Tigers barely won 34-28. It took a 342-yard passing performance from Uiagalelei to get the job done. Given how well he responded to the adversity in the last meeting between these teams, look for Uiagalelei to post similar numbers in another win.
- Week 5 prediction: Clemson 41, Boston College 24
WEEK 6 BYE
Week 7 – @ Syracuse Orange
|Friday, Oct. 15||7:00 PM||ESPN|
A prime-time national TV game fresh off the bye week is a great way to ensure Clemson doesn’t overlook the Orange. There’s little danger of an upset here, but the Tigers must be on their guard. Syracuse may have won only one game in 2020, but its non-conference slate was brutal, and the Orange actually kept within striking distance of Clemson in the third quarter of a 47-21 loss.
- Week 7 prediction: Clemson 49, Syracuse 17
Week 8 – @ Pittsburgh Panthers
|Saturday, Oct. 23||TBD||TBD|
- Spread: Clemson -18.5 (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Clemson -1115; Pittsburgh +650
Fifth-year senior quarterback Kenny Pickett is returning for Pittsburgh, whose only two truly ugly losses from last season were against Notre Dame and Clemson. Pickett at least provides experience and leadership at a key position, which should keep things competitive. However, the Tigers’ skill position players will overwhelm the Panthers in the end.
- Week 8 prediction: Clemson 38, Pittsburgh 21
Week 9 – vs. Florida State Seminoles
|Saturday, Oct. 30||TBD||TBD|
If the Seminoles were living up to their typical reputation as a powerhouse, the ACC would be a lot more interesting. As it stands, though, Florida State is still a program searching for an identity amid a rebuild. The foundation isn’t yet there to notch quality road wins against elite opponents.
Week 9 prediction: Clemson 48, Florida State 24
Week 10 – @ Louisville Cardinals
|Saturday, Nov. 6||TBD||TBD|
Malik Cunningham is an intriguing dual-threat QB who might give the Cardinals a puncher’s chance at pulling off a shocker in Louisville. This is definitely among the most dangerous foes for the Tigers down the stretch, but following a few facile wins, you can bet the visitors will be up to the task for this one and show how sharp they are for the College Football Playoff selection committee.
- Week 10 prediction: Clemson 41, Louisville 27
Week 11 – vs. UConn Huskies
|Saturday, Nov. 13||TBD||TBD|
So, the Huskies are much better known as a basketball school, won only two games during the 2019 campaign, and didn’t have a season last year. This seems like a pretty sure bet that Clemson will cover the spread, no matter how high it is.
- Week 11 prediction: Clemson 63, UConn 0
Week 12 – vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
|Saturday, Nov. 20||TBD||TBD|
You can’t really say the Demon Deacons are a total cupcake matchup, because they really battled last year, losing by three to NC State, six to North Carolina and would’ve probably beat Wisconsin in a bowl game if not for four interceptions thrown by Sam Hartman. But Carlos Basham Jr. is no longer on Wake Forest’s defensive line, and its offense just isn’t good enough to keep up with the Tigers.
- Week 12 prediction: Clemson 52, Wake Forest 14
Week 13 – @ South Carolina Gamecocks
|Saturday, Nov. 27||TBD||TBD|
Wow, and to cap off the regular season, we have the Palmetto Bowl between Clemson and South Carolina. The big issue here is the coaching matchup. Shane Beamer is in his first year at the helm of the Gamecocks, and will have just endured a brutal SEC gauntlet, only to face one of the top-flight teams in the country to cap off his maiden season. Swinney and Clemson’s staff will have an edge too overwhelming for the hosts to overcome.
- Week 13 prediction: Clemson 37, South Carolina 17