After having a week off to recharge the batteries, so to speak, Clemson will now head to Syracuse for a Friday night showdown with the Orange.
Everyone remembers what happened the last time the Tigers played in the Carrier Dome on a Friday night, so no need to recap that nightmarish scene, as this current Clemson team has already experienced a few nightmares on the offensive side of the ball.
Syracuse is coming off two heartbreaking losses in consecutive weeks, both coming on the the final play of the game. After getting off to a decent start early in the season, the Orange defense has been absolutely ripped to shreds in each of those games.
The week off came at the right time for this Clemson team, and with the way Syracuse has lost the past two games, the Tigers could be catching this team at an opportune time. The week off will have allowed for some banged up guys to get healthy and most importantly, allowed the coaching staff to make some adjustments to a struggling offense.
Clemson found something in the running game against Boston College. Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah had productive nights behind a reworked offensive line, and it opened some things up in the passing game. DJ Uiagalelei and the receivers didn’t always take advantage of those opportunities, but they were there.
That’s how Clemson will also beat the Orange. With the running game. Look for the Tigers to establish the running game early. Two weeks ago, Florida State ran all over the Orange, racking up more than 250 yards on the ground. Wake didn’t have as much success, but Wake doesn’t have a back like Pace or Mafah.
Where the Tigers will win this game, though, is on the defensive side of the ball. This group has carried this team all season, and Friday night will be no different. Syracuse quarterback Garrett Schrader, a transfer from Mississippi State, will find rushing yards much tougher to come by against this Clemson defense than he has in previous games.
Schrader carried the ball 29 times in last weeks loss to Wake, averaging more than six yards per carry. The only way Syracuse wins this game is if Schrader has a similar performance. He won’t.
After the week off, Uiagalelei and the offense take another step forward and look much better than they have in previous games. However, still far from a well-oiled machine. But it’s the defense that is the difference. Clemson wins, and for the first time this season, the Tigers cover the spread (13.5).
Clemson 27 Syracuse 13
Freddie Huth: Many would say that Clemson’s back is firmly against the wall and has been since their loss to NC State. They do still have a lot on the line heading into the Carrier Dome against a team that has found ways to give them fits. I expect the Tigers to come out and take care of business after an additional week to get healthy and work on the offense. One thing that could help Clemson out is that the Orange may still be reeling after their hearts were ripped out by Florida State and Wake Forest the last two weeks.
Clemson 37 Syracuse 10
Sam Clemons: Dabo Swinney and the Tigers have had a week to rest, heal and fix. Syracuse has had two gut-wrenching last second losses in a row. Even a casual observer, like myself, has to wonder if the Orange aren’t emotionally spent. Saying that, I know they always rise to meet and play Clemson a great game. I believe this week is a “do or die” week for the Tigers. With the offense showing improvement and the defense is as good as we’ve seen, Clemson brings home the W.
Clemson 28 Syracuse 14
Ted Jackson: Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers have heard plenty of harsh criticism over the last few weeks about their performance thus far this season. The season clearly hasn’t gotten off to a great start with the Tigers having two losses in September. But with a week off to get healthy, reflect, and get refocused, they will be ready to take on the Syracuse Orange. Look for the Tigers to look better, but still not a finished product. Winning on the road is never easy, but the Tigers will find a way to get it done.
Clemson 23 Syracuse 16
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