Clemson will put itself to the test this season with two non-conference SEC games.
Already locked in for the foreseeable future with in-state rival South Carolina, coach Dabo Swinney and the Tigers also open their season at Auburn on Sept. 3.
“They’re talented,” Swinney said of Gus Malzahn’s squad at Monday’s Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge golf tournament. “They’re a really talented team. Go back and look at their recruits over the last two or three years.”
Auburn finished 7-6 last season, while Clemson nearly won the national championship.
Swinney explained why his team’s loss to Alabama this past January can help them moving forward, saying he doesn’t want that game to “beat me again.”
He called the September trip to Auburn a “tough opener” while giving praise to the program’s defense. Carl Lawson is an “elite player,” according to Swinney, but the Clemson staff doesn’t appear to be too worried about Auburn’s offense at the moment.
“We still don’t know much about them offensively because we’re not sure who the quarterback is,” Swinney said. “We’re continuing to prepare for what they do, and openers are always tough because there’s always new faces for both sides. There’s a lot of unknowns.”
As it stands, Clemson is a favorite to return to the College Football Playoff, while Auburn is simply trying to regain its footing in the SEC West.
“Auburn is a very difficult place to play, and obviously they’re well-coached and very talented,” Swinney said. “So both teams will be hungry and anxious to try to get off to a good start in the first one.”