Each and every year, a number of high profile college football teams try to schedule at least one marquee non-conference game.
This is done for a number of reasons, but the biggest among them may be what it can do for your strength of schedule and your resume—if you win the game.
The Clemson Tigers are doing exactly that this year by opening up their season in a neutral site game vs. Auburn.
Its time to take a look at three reasons why the Tigers will look to make a statement against Auburn in their season opener.
The test that the Clemson attack will get by facing the Auburn defense could quite possibly be the toughest that they'll face all year.
Gene Chizik's squad returns nine starters on the defensive side of the ball, including defensive end Corey Lemonier and LB Daren Bates.
On paper, the Clemson offense has the talent lined up to be one of the nation's most explosive units. There are big-time playmakers at nearly every skill position and high-scoring affairs could be the norm in Death Valley this season.
Dabo Swinney will want to use the season opener to work out any potential kinks in the offense and there's not a much better way to do it than by pitting yourself against an already proven defensive unit.
I talked about this a bit in the opening slide, but strength of schedule remains as important as ever in college football.
If Clemson ends up winning the ACC again it may not matter much, but a team on the cusp of a BCS at-large bid needs all the wins they can get.
The Chick-Fil-A kickoff classic against Auburn presents a picture-perfect opportunity for Dabo Swinney's squad to make a statement.
Auburn is one of the SEC's better teams, they should win eight or nine games this year. A win should help boost Clemson's computer numbers.
With the exception of the South Carolina rivalry game, the other two non-conference tilts are against Ball St. and Furman.
Those aren't exactly teams that will impress those computers we love so much.
The Auburn game is huge for this team.
Let's get this straight, I'm not saying the ACC is bad, but I think we can all agree that the conference isn't what it used to be.
For the last few years, it has widely been considered one of the weaker BCS conferences.
Long gone are the days of Florida St. and Miami being legitimate threats to win the National Championship each and every year.
In 2012, beyond Florida St. and Virginia Tech, there isn't much potential for wins that will overly impress the pollsters.
Sure, teams like Georgia Tech, NC St. and UNC are solid, but not the flashy wins that are oh so important in college football nowadays.
A win over Auburn in the season opener could do wonders for a Clemson team that has tons of potential this year.
It should be a very exciting year of football for the defending ACC Champs.