Clemson enters the season as the defending ACC champions, which makes the Tigers the target of every ACC team on their schedule.

“We’re the champions until someone takes it away from us,” center Dalton Freeman said, “and we aren’t going to give it away too easily.”

In addition to a slate of Atlantic Division opponents that includes Florida State, the schedule includes Coastal standouts Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech as well as SEC opponents Auburn and South Carolina to open and close the season.

Here's a look at some key matchups for the Tigers.                                                                           

Must-see matchup: Sept. 22 at Florida State

For the second year in a row, the winner of this game will have the inside track on an Atlantic Division title. Last year, Clemson used a 35-30 win over the Seminoles as a springboard to an ACC title and BCS berth. Before the season is a month old, one of these top ACC programs will essentially be eliminated from national title consideration.

Upset alert: Sept. 1 vs. Auburn in Atlanta

Clemson’s road to Florida State is fairly easy, with home games against Ball State and Furman, but the Tigers have to get past their opener before they can start looking ahead to the Seminoles. Clemson won last year, breaking a 14-game Auburn winning streak in the series. Auburn was still suffering from a post-Cam Newton hangover for last year’s game. Clemson will face a tougher, more mature team this time around.

It's a breeze (easiest stretch): Oct. 25 through Nov. 10 – at Wake Forest, at Duke, Maryland.

It’s tough to call back-to-back road games a “breeze”, but the trips to Winston-Salem and Durham come after home games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, and should present Clemson with two winnable games. The home game against Maryland will help the Tigers collect their breath before finishing the season against N.C. State and South Carolina.

Brutal stretch: Sept. 22 through Oct. 20 – at Florida State, at Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech is the only one of the four opponents that hasn’t beaten Clemson in the last two seasons. The trip to Boston comes on the heels of Clemson’s toughest game of the year and two weeks before the next toughest, against Virginia Tech.

Complete Schedule:

Sept. 1 vs. Auburn in Atlanta

Sept. 8 Ball State

Sept. 15 Furman

Sept. 22 at Florida State

Sept. 29 at Boston College

Oct. 6 Georgia Tech

Oct. 13 OPEN

Oct. 20 Virginia Tech

Oct. 25 at Wake Forest

Nov. 3 at Duke

Nov. 10 Maryland

Nov. 17 N.C. State

Nov. 24 South Carolina

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.