Clemson releases non-conference schedules through 2020 season

Auburn's Onterio McCalebb (23) reaches out to fend off Clemson's Jonathan Meeks during their 2011 game at Clemson. AP Photo/Patrick Collard/File

As the program becomes more consistent, Clemson is sticking to its recipe in creating non-conference football schedules for the future.

As head coach Dabo Swinney has previously outlined, the Tigers prefer the following template for its annual four non-conference opponents: South Carolina to end the year, then another Power 5 competitor (preferably ranked in the top 25), and two home games with lesser foes, one from a smaller FBS league and one from the FCS ranks (usually in-state.)

In releasing its complete non-conference slate through the 2020 season Thursday, Clemson has done just that. Only one vacancy remains, likely reserved for an in-state FCS program to kick off 2020.

Clemson is hosting Notre Dame on Oct. 3, and visits South Bend in 2020, as part of the Fighting Irish’s tie-in with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson also has arranged home-and-home series with SEC powers Auburn (road 2016, home 2017) and Texas A&M (road 2018, home 2019.)

The newest revelations from Clemson’s release Thursday: the Tigers’ third tier has been sewn up for the next half decade. Clemson hosts Appalachian State on Sept. 12, followed by Troy in 2016, Kent State to kick off 2017, Georgia Southern in 2018, UNC-Charlotte in 2019 and Akron in 2020.

App State, Troy and Georgia Southern hail from the Sun Belt Conference, while Kent State and Akron represent the MAC. Charlotte’s football program was created in 2013, and after two years at the FCS level is joining Conference USA this fall.

What the additions of Georgia Southern, Charlotte and Akron mean is Clemson will not participate in any opening-weekend, neutral-site events until at least 2020 — and that year would be extremely unlikely, with a trip to Notre Dame on the docket. Clemson last participated in such an event on Sept. 1, 2012, when it defeated Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Starting this fall, Clemson’s home games vs. FCS programs within the state are Wofford (Sept. 5), S.C. State, The Citadel, Furman and Wofford again in 2019. The Tigers have yet to announce that fourth foe in 2020.

Clemson’s complete non-conference opponent list through 2020:

2015

Sept. 5 Wofford

Sept. 12 Appalachian State

Oct. 3 Notre Dame

Nov. 28 at South Carolina

2016

Sept. 3 at Auburn

Sept. 10 Troy

Sept. 17 S.C. State

Nov. 26 South Carolina

2017

Sept. 2 Kent State

Sept. 9 Auburn

Nov. 18 The Citadel

Nov. 25 at South Carolina

2018

Sept. 1 Furman

Sept. 8 at Texas A&M

Sept. 15 Georgia Southern

Nov. 24 South Carolina

2019

Aug. 31 Wofford

Sept. 7 Texas A&M

Sept. 21 UNC-Charlotte

Nov. 30 at South Carolina

2020

Aug. 25/Sept. 5 TBD

TBD at Notre Dame

Sept. 19 Akron

Nov. 28 South Carolina