As the 2019 football season approaches, we can now let the gridiron excitement begin to show. But as with any year, some matchups look better on paper than others.
With only four weeks remaining until the media gather for Dabo Swinney's annual golf outing and the ACC Football Kickoff, we take a look at six intriguing games on Clemson's 2019 schedule, three games that could be lopsided wins for Clemson and three potential nailbiters that could challenge the Tigers' repeat ascension to the national championship.
Today, we look at the three games we are selling our tickets for in the upcoming season.
- SELL: Sept. 21: Charlotte 49ers vs. Clemson Tigers at Death Valley
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers football program, which was created 11 years ago and only started playing Division I games in 2013, has a combined win-loss record of 22-48 since taking the field. The team, competing in Conference USA, has never faced Clemson. And after staring down the national champs and enduring a rabid fan base in the Tigers' back yard, they might not be eager to return.
Charlotte went 5-7 in 2018, with wins against Fordham, Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, Southern Mississippi and Florida Atlantic. The team was 1-11 the previous year. The path to a winning season in 2019 looks even thornier, as the 49ers are set to face six bowl-eligible teams from last season, including, of course, the toughest of them all, Clemson.
Aside from giving fans and players a shot of morale in a welcoming setting, and possibly providing some extra playing time for younger members of the roster, these projected squash games run the risk of creating a lukewarm effort on the field among players. So coaches will need to be diligent in keeping the team focused on the task at hand.
Dominating performances are fun to watch and validate hard work on the practice field and in the film room, but competitive games keep players sharp, and as this game is positioned right in the middle of Clemson's season, the Tigers will need laser focus guiding them down the home stretch of the 2019 campaign.
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- SELL: Sept. 28: Clemson Tigers vs. North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This "sell" was a tossup between Wofford College (Nov. 2 at Death Valley) and UNC, but as the latter has a new coach at the helm, two new coordinators and different offensive and defensive philosophies to boot, UNC has the most potential to turn some heads and cause a scare for the Tigers during an important four-game stretch in ACC competition.
The Tar Heels' new head coach Mack Brown, who has entered his second run in that position, will hope to revive the team's competitive edge in the ACC after a disappointing season in 2018. Army, led by new UNC co-defensive coordinator Jay Bateman last season, was the eighth-ranked defense in the nation, while Old Miss, under new UNC defensive coordinator Phil Longo, finished 2018 seventh in the nation in yards per play and ninth in total offense.
Longo is expected to bring a similar spread offense to Chapel Hill, which could give the Tigers' vulnerable secondary, the one chink in the defense's considerable armor, problems at times if the game remains close down the stretch.
- SELL: Oct. 19: Clemson Tigers vs. Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
The Louisville Cardinals are looking to improve on a 2018 season that saw them stumble and bumble their way to a 2-10 record that included a 77-16 loss to the Tigers.
The Cardinals made a change in leadership following the 2018 season, as they fired head coach Bobby Petrino and made the change to Scott Satterfield, formerly head coach at Appalachian State.
Satterfield compiled a remarkable 51-24 record at Appalachian State, including a 38-10 conference mark in six seasons with the Mountaineers.
His conference record of 34-6 in five Sun Belt seasons is the best in the league over that span. Notably, he became the first coach to lead a school from the FCS level to FBS and immediately earn three-consecutive bowl wins.
While Satterfield may be the answer in the commonwealth, it is hard to believe that the Cardinals will be able to mount much opposition to the Tigers this season.