CLEMSON - That's not too bad a hand dealt to Clemson on its 2014 football schedule unveiled Wednesday afternoon by the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Tigers. who finished 11-2 and ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll of the 2013 season, will open ACC action against defending national champion Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium, and both teams get two weeks to stare each other down.
Clemson also has 10 days to prepare for its ACC finale, a road game at Georgia Tech on Nov. 15.
On the flip side, out go Maryland and Virginia, in come Louisville and North Carolina on the Tigers' schedule.
"This schedule allows us to compete to reach the college football playoff," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It is a challenging schedule. Louisville was a 12-1 team ranked in the final top 15, and North Carolina finished strong winning six of its last seven games. Playing Georgia and South Carolina from the SEC certainly makes it difficult from a non-conference standpoint.
"On paper, based on last year's results, it looks to be more difficult than last year."
Circle the calendar: Clemson at Florida State Sept. 20, perhaps to determine the ACC Atlantic champion for the sixth consecutive year.
Clemson opens with Georgia and S.C. State before getting 14 days to prepare for the Seminoles. This is the second straight year Florida State gets two weeks to prepare for Clemson. Last year, the Tigers hosted Boston College seven days before the top-5 showdown at Death Valley, which FSU won 51-14.
After returning from Tallahassee, Clemson plays the next three Saturdays at home: North Carolina, N.C. State and new ACC member Louisville come calling to Memorial Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the Tigers and the Cardinals, led by new coach Bobby Petrino.
Mid-October will focus on teams from the northeast: Clemson plays Oct. 18 at Boston College, then hosts Syracuse. Then comes a 12-day layoff before a mid-week game at Wake Forest.
Clemson is 4-9 all-time on ESPN's Thursday Night Primetime, but has won its last three appearances. This is the third consecutive year, and 10th in the past 13, Clemson has scheduled an ACC road game on a Thursday night.
Finally, the Tigers have a few extra days to get ready for Georgia Tech, which will be its second game of the season in the Peach State. Journeys to Georgia and Georgia Tech have proven difficult for Clemson, with just 20 victories against 69 losses (and three ties) in Athens and Atlanta.
The 2014 season ends with home games against Georgia State (in its fourth year of existence) and rival South Carolina, looking to extend its series winning streak to six.
Game 1: Clemson at Georgia, Aug. 30
All-time series: Georgia leads 41-18-4
All-time in Athens: Georgia leads 26-7-1
Last meeting: Clemson 38, Georgia 35 (Aug. 31, 2013, in Clemson)
Game note: The Tajh Boyd-Aaron Murray eras are no more; both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks, though Hutson Mason started the Gator Bowl (21-39, 320 yards, TD, INT) in place of the injured Murray.
Game 2: S.C. State at Clemson, Sept. 6
All-time series: Clemson leads 2-0
All-time in Clemson: Clemson leads 2-0
Last meeting: Clemson 52, S.C. State 13 (Sept. 7, 2013, in Clemson)
Game note: After getting picked apart by Tigers backup QB Cole Stoudt (19-for-20, 3 TD) in week 2 last year, the Bulldogs went on to claim a share of the MEAC crown and finish 9-4, losing to Furman in the FCS playoff first round.
Game 3: Clemson at Florida State, Sept. 20
All-time series: Florida State leads 19-8
All-time in Tallahassee: Florida State leads 11-3
Last meeting: Florida State 51, Clemson 14 (Oct. 19, 2013 in Clemson)
Game note: The Seminoles will be the preseason No. 1, after winning the national championship and retaining Heisman winner Jameis Winston; FSU has won 10 of 11 when hosting Clemson since the 1980s.
Game 4: North Carolina at Clemson, Sept. 27
All-time series: Clemson leads 35-19-1
All-time in Clemson: Clemson leads 18-7
Last meeting: Clemson 59, North Carolina 38 (Oct. 22, 2011, in Clemson)
Game note: This will be the fourth of five meetings taking place in Death Valley; after opening 2013 1-5, the Tar Heels closed 6-1 with a Belk Bowl 39-17 victory over Cincinnati.
Game 5: NC State at Clemson, Oct. 4
All-time series: Clemson leads 53-28-1
All-time in Clemson: Clemson leads 23-11
Last meeting: Clemson 26, N.C. State 14 (Sept. 19, 2013, in Raleigh)
Game note: One of two teams going winless in ACC play (Virginia), second-year coach Dave Doeren must fix the Wolf Pack's woebegone defense (33.9 points allowed per conference game.)
Game 6: Louisville at Clemson, Oct. 11
All-time series: First meeting
All-time in Clemson: First meeting
Game note: Bobby Petrino is back in Louisville, replacing Texas-bound Charlie Strong; from 2003-06, Petrino led the Cardinals to a 41-9 mark, including one Conference USA championship and one Big East title.
Game 7: Clemson at Boston College, Oct. 18
All-time series: Clemson leads 12-9-2
All-time in Chestnut Hill: Tied 6-6-1
Last meeting: Clemson 24, Boston College 14 (Oct. 12, 2013, in Clemson)
Game note: Dabo Swinney's first coaching victory was a 27-21 road win at BC on Nov. 1, 2008; the Tigers have won five of six over the Golden Eagles with Swinney at the helm.
Game 8: Syracuse at Clemson, Oct. 25
All-time series: Tied 1-1
All-time in Clemson: First meeting in Clemson
Last meeting: Clemson 49, Syracuse 14 (Oct. 5, 2013, in Syracuse)
Game note: The Orange are an even 11-11 on the road over the past four years; in 2013, Syracuse allowed 48, 56 and 59 points in three road losses but a total of 13 points in wins at N.C. State and Maryland.
Game 9: Clemson at Wake Forest, Nov. 6 (Thursday)
All-time series: Clemson leads 61-17-1
All-time in Winston-Salem: Clemson leads 22-10-1
Last meeting: Clemson 56, Wake Forest 7 (Sept. 28, 2013, in Clemson)
Game note: The Demon Deacons did take three of four meetings in northwest North Carolina in the mid-2000s, but Dabo Swinney is a perfect 5-0 against Wake Forest by an average score of 39-12.
Game 10: Clemson at Georgia Tech, Nov. 15
All-time series: Georgia Tech leads 50-27-2
All-time in Atlanta: Georgia Tech leads 43-13-2
Last meeting: Clemson 55, Georgia Tech 31 (Nov. 14, 2013, in Clemson)
Game note: Clemson hasn't won at Bobby Dodd Stadium since 2003, a four-game skid; the Yellow Jackets need a new field general after Vad Lee decided to transfer on Jan. 3.
Game 11: Georgia State at Clemson, Nov. 22
All-time series: First meeting
All-time in Clemson: First meeting
Game note: Georgia State football was launched in the fall of 2010, but the Panthers are just 1-22 over the past two seasons.
Game 12: South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29
All-time series: Clemson leads 65-42-4
All-time in Clemson: Clemson 16-10-1
Last meeting: South Carolina 31, Clemson 17 (Nov. 30, 2013, in Columbia)
Game note: During the Gamecocks' five-game series winning streak, South Carolina has scored 62 points off Clemson's 15 turnovers, while the Tigers haven't scored a single point in response to three USC turnovers.