CLEMSON - If you're a season-ticket holder at Memorial Stadium, you'll find it difficult to get into the rhythm of football season until the leaves are changing colors.
That's not a bad thing; on the condition Clemson is still playing for prime goals.
The schedule gods didn't exactly throw the Tigers a bone after losing major offensive pieces, sending the team to the stadiums of potential top-10 foe Georgia and certain preseason No. 1 Florida State in the first four weeks of the season.
Sandwiched between the Bulldogs and Seminoles is a bye week Sept. 13 and a non-conference tune-up against South Carolina State, who was a 52-point underdog entering last year's tilt at Death Valley and ended up losing 52-13.
Hey, gameday is gameday, right?
Game 2: South Carolina State at Clemson, Sept. 6, 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network
S.C. State coach: Oliver 'Buddy' Pough (97-43, 13th season)
Returning starters: 14 (seven offense, seven defense)
2013 record: 9-4, 7-1 MEAC; tied-1st MEAC
Scoring offense: 28.8 points per game (44th in FCS)
Scoring defense: 15.2 points allowed (3rd)
Series: Clemson leads 2-0, including 2-0 in Clemson
Golden Nugget line: N/A
Opposing beat writer to follow: N/A
Three things to know about South Carolina State
1. The Bulldogs do know how to win: Five outright or split regular season Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles in the last ten years is enough to deserve your attention. Two years ago, the Bulldogs went 5-6, the program's first losing season under Buddy Pough (who took over in 2002), but with 17 returning starters last fall, they bumped that win total by four.
2. They could sack Stoudt. You'll kindly notice S.C. State boasted the third-stingiest defense at the FCS level last year; seven of their 13 opponents couldn't reach 10 points. The catalysts were up front, as All-American defensive linemen Andrew Carter and Alex Glovers (now seniors) combined for 20.5 sacks in one season, helping S.C. State to an FCS-high 62 sacks during 2013. As it were, Clemson quarterbacks were sacked four times: Tajh Boyd twice, Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly once each.
3. .but could they stop him? Boyd and Kelly are gone, leaving the reins to Stoudt, who against S.C. State had a day many quarterbacks never experience even on the practice field. Stoudt's 19-for-20 effort set a school completion percentage record, and helped the Tigers gash the Bulldogs for 52 points - S.C. State, by comparison, would allow 53 points total in their ensuing six games. By the way, just before we go, S.C. State lost its starting quarterback and top receiver (Tyler McDonald, who had 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns in last year's matchup.)
Week before: @Georgia
Next week: Bye week
On the horizon: @Florida State