No. 9 Clemson makes 1st visit to Duke in 11 years for Labor Day opener in the ACC
No. 9 Clemson (0-0) at Duke (0-0), Monday, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: Clemson by 12 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Clemson leads 37-16-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Clemson opens the season again as the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, though this time in a division-less format. That means the Tigers’ first trip to Durham to face the Blue Devils — which previously was a periodic cross-divisional matchup — since 2012. It’s a stiff test for the Blue Devils to open Year 2 under Mike Elko, the reigning ACC coach of the year after guiding Duke to nine wins in his debut.
Duke QB Riley Leonard vs. Clemson’s defensive line. Leonard has skill and experience after helping the Blue Devils go 9-4 a year ago. But the Tigers returned several lineman like all-ACC tackle Tyler Davis and ends Justin Macoll and Xavier Thomas, who came back to chase championship goals.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Clemson: QB Cade Klubnik. He was a massive change agent for the Tigers last season, especially when he replaced starter D.J. Uiagalelei early in the ACC title game and led Clemson to a 39-10 win over North Carolina. Now, it’s Klubnik’s team and he’ll have to show he’s a true leader of the offense.
Duke: WR Jalon Calhoun. He thrived in his fourth year to make 62 catches for 873 yards and four touchdowns, making him the top target coming into this season.
FACTS & FIGURES
This is the second straight season that Clemson opens on Labor Day. … Duke QB Riley Leonard joined Oregon’s Bo Nix as the only returning players from the Bowl Subdivision to pass for 20-plus touchdowns and run for 13 or more scores. … Duke enters this game with a 10-61-4 record against top 10 opponents in The Associated Press college football poll. The last win came when the Steve Spurrier-coached squad beat then-No. 7 Clemson in September 1989 on the way to the ACC title. … The Tigers have won five straight in the series and 10 of 11 dating to 1999, with the Blue Devils’ lone win coming in 2004 (16-13) on Matt Brooks’ 53-yard field goal as time expired. … Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is going for his 100th career win in ACC regular-season play. The only other coach to reach that milestone was late Florida State great Bobby Bowden.