Clemson will open a season on Labor Day evening for the second straight year when the ninth-ranked Tigers face the Duke Blue Devils on Monday, Sept. 4. Kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C., is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Clemson enters the game as the reigning ACC champions after winning its league-leading 21st all-time ACC title last season. The Tigers are 15-4-1 all-time in conference openers of seasons following ACC titles, a mark that includes wins in conference openers following each of Clemson’s six ACC titles from 2015-20.
A year ago, Clemson opened its 2022 ACC title-winning campaign on Labor Day night, defeating Georgia Tech, 41-10, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Clemson’s final offensive play of the contest was a three-yard touchdown pass by Cade Klubnik, his first career touchdown pass in his first career game. On Monday, Klubnik is expected to make his first career regular season start, as last December he became the first Clemson quarterback since the modernization of Clemson’s quarterback position in 1953 to make his first career start in a postseason game.
Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney enters the game with a 99-19 record in ACC regular season play. With a win on Monday, he would become only the second coach ever to lead a program to 100 career regular season conference victories as head of an ACC program, joining Bobby Bowden, whose more than 300 career wins at Florida State included 117 conference wins following the Seminoles’ addition to the conference in 1992.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK
– Clemson playing its 27th Monday game all-time but only its 11th regular season Monday game in school history.
– Clemson attempting to improve to 16-11 all-time in Monday games, which would include an 8-3 record in Monday regular season games.
– Clemson attempting to improve to 96-24-8 all-time in season openers and give the Tigers victories in 13 of their last 15 season debuts.
– Clemson attempting to win a sixth consecutive game against Duke. It would be the second-longest winning streak in series history by either team, joining Clemson’s eight-game winning streak from 1981-88.
– Clemson and Duke playing a third consecutive night game in the series (2012, 2018 and 2023) after not playing any night games against one another in the series’ first 52 contests.
– Clemson attempting to improve to 16-4-1 in conference openers the year after winning an ACC title. Clemson won its ACC debut in every year succeeding each of its six consecutive titles from 2015-20.
– Clemson attempting to improve to 28-6 in night games since the start of the 2018 season. A win would move Clemson to 47-9 at night since 2015.
– Clemson opening the season in prime time for the fifth consecutive season, the second-longest streak in school history behind Clemson’s nine consecutive season debuts under the lights from 1948-56, all of which came against Presbyterian. Clemson will attempt to improve to 20-5 in season-opening night games all-time and give Dabo Swinney an 8-1 mark in those contests.
– Clemson attempting to improve to 32-7 in games following a loss under Swinney, including season openers following a loss in the previous season finale. Clemson has not lost back-to-back games in the same season since November 2011.
Zach Lentz: Clemson comes out and looks to make a statement that they are not only back, but they have not gone anywhere. The defense causes all kinds of problems for Duke and the offense comes out firing.
Prediction: Clemson 38, Duke 17
Brad Senkiw: Week 1 can be weird. We’ve already seen that. Clemson has a ton of questions, mostly on offense, so there might be a feeling-out period that will keep this game closer than expected, especially early on. Clemson’s defense is too good, though, and the Tigers will out-talent Duke for the win.
Prediction: Clemson 24, Duke 13
Jason Priester: Expect Clemson’s offense to perform much better under new coordinator Garrett Riley, but this is still a season-opener on the road and it is the first game with the new scheme. There is bound to be a hiccup or two. This is also a Duke team that returns 18 of 21 starters from a team that won nine games a season ago, including playmaking QB Riley Leonard. The Blue Devils keep it competitive for a while, but in the end, the talent wins out, particularly along the lines of scrimmage. The Tigers win by two scores.
Prediction: Clemson 28 Duke 13