Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/22/12
In 2012, the Clemson Tigers will defend their ACC Championship title, while also trying to erase the painful memories of their Orange Bowl loss earlier this year.  On the positive side for Clemson this season they will be returning four offensive superstars quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington, and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins.

On the negative side for Clemson, star tight-end Dwayne Allen was drafted this offseason, and the team lost several other players on the offensive line and defense most notably, Phillip Price, Andre Branch, Brandon Thompson, and Coty Sensabaug.Therefore, Clemson's success in 2012 will hinge on how well they can replace these players.

This article will take a look at each of Clemson's matchups for the 2012 season.

September 1: Auburn
Clemson versus Auburn is turning into one of the more exciting rivalries in college football. It started at the 2007 Chick-Fil-A Bowl, when Auburn knocked off Clemson by three points in overtime. The two teams met again in 2010, and thanks to a missed Clemson field goal, Auburn once again defeated Clemson by three in overtime. In 2011, Clemson finally got their licks in and defeated 21st ranked Auburn and in the process ended Auburn’s 17 game winning streak.

This season the two teams will meet at the site of the 2007 matchup at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. This game has the potential to go either way, as it will be the first game for both teams, meaning the teams will still be looking to find the right mix of plays and personnel for the season.

I see another close game with Clemson eeking out a 30-27 win.

September 8: Ball State 
Ball State is a lesser known college football team hailing from the MAC West division. Clemson has a reputation for letting these smaller teams hang around too long, for example last year’s matchups with Troy and Wofford. Clemson should have no problem winning this game but hopefully they will put it away in the first half.

Clemson wins 42-14.

September 15: Furman
For the second week in a row, Clemson is facing a team they should have no problem finishing off by halftime. Clemson wins this one 49-3.

September 22: @ Florida State
Clemson and Florida State is another rivalry that has intensified over the last couple of decades, that came to its peak during the Bowden Bowl years, when Bobby Bowden of Florida State battled his son Tommy Bowden of Clemson.

Clemson took last year’s matchup knocking off the 11th ranked Seminoles and finished squashing Florida State’s hopes of a national championship. Both teams lost key defensive players this offseason, so I expect a big offensive battle between these two teams this year.

Clemson wins 42-32.   

September 29: @ Boston College
Boston College’s number of single season wins has consistently decreased since 2008, with the team finishing with a 4-8 record last season, with one of those losses being to Clemson.  Boston College is not the threat to Clemson they used to be and Clemson should easily win.

Clemson wins 36-14.

October 6: Georgia Tech
Clemson and Georgia Tech is another rivalry that has been interesting over the last couple of decades with each team sharing the highs and lows of college football, while taking turns obtaining hard fought wins.
In the 2011 season, Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington and the option offense, ran for 383 yards, and four touchdowns while the defense picked off Tajh Boyd twice, as Georgia Tech won 31-17, which also ended Clemson’s chance at a national championship run.

Georgia Tech is returning seven starters on offense including quarterback Washington, and four players on the offensive line, which will give Clemson’s defense all they can handle plus some. For the second year in a row, Georgia Tech gives Clemson their first loss of the season.

Georgia Tech wins 20-17.

October 20: Virginia Tech
Last season the Clemson Tigers handed the Virginia Tech Hokies two losses, one on October 1, on Virginia Tech’s home field, and the other was in the ACC Championship game. Therefore, Virginia Tech has lots of reasons to be looking for payback this year in Clemson.

This season will be a rebuilding year for the Hokies who lost several key offensive players in the offseason including four offensive line starters, running back David Wilson and receivers Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and  Chris Drager. Virginia will have some work to do this season with new and different personnel if they want to remain on the top of the ACC.
I expect another tough game between these two teams, with Clemson escaping with the win.

Clemson wins 13-10.

October 25: @ Wake Forest
This will be a great matchup because the game will be a nationally televised game and because these opponents are extremely familiar with one another. The two schools have battled it out on the football field 77 times since 1933, with Clemson currently leading the series with 59 wins, 17 losses, and one tie. Clemson has also won the last eight out of 11 with Wake Forest, which includes a current three game win streak.

Wake Forest is returning only 13 starters from last season with three of those being on offense, seven on defense, and three specialties players. While the Wake Forest team should consistent on the field by this point in the season, it will still be difficult to matchup against a team like Clemson.

Clemson wins 28-14.

Nov. 3: @ Duke
Duke is a great school with a great basketball team, but still is lacking success with the football program. Clemson cruises in this one.
Clemson wins 38-14.

November 10: Maryland
In 2011, Maryland finished the season with a 2-10 record. Maryland might few a couple of more game this season but not against Clemson.

Clemson wins 30-17.

November 17: North Carolina State
This season’s matchup with North Carolina State will be a chance for redemption, as the Wolfpack upset Clemson last season by a lopsided score of 37-13.  Clemson does not let it happen again especially at home.

Clemson wins 45-21.

November 24: South Carolina
For those living in the Palmetto State the annual Clemson versus Carolina game is as big as the Super Bowl. Each side has passionate fans who love winning and hate losing. The two football teams first met in 1896, and have played each other every year since 1909. South Carolina has won the last three meetings, but Clemson leads the overall series 65-40-4.

South Carolina had three players drafted in the first round of the 2012 and had a total of  nine players leave school this past offseason, therefore, it will interesting to see how well this team is playing especially this late in the season.

I may be biased because I am a Clemson fan, but it is definitely time for Clemson to beat South Carolina again, especially since Dabo Sweeny who is 1-3 against Carolina, just got a contract extension. 

Clemson wins 35-21.

Post Season
With an 11-1 record Clemson easily wins the ACC Atlantic Division title, and appear in the ACC Championship game. Depending on the season goes either Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech will face Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

Final Analysis
Despite losing some key players this offseason, Clemson still has the potential to be a dominating force in the ACC season led by their high flying offense. I expect Clemson to do well this season bringing home their second straight ACC title. 

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