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Syracuse faces off against an unranked Clemson for the first time since October 2014. The Orange had their last three contests decided by a single play as time expired — the first was a game-winning field goal against Liberty, the next was from Florida State’s game-winning field goal and the most recent was No. 19 Wake Forest’s walk-off touchdown in overtime.
Halfway through the regular season, SU (3-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast) is still in search of its first conference win. The Orange play a Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC) team that’s coming off its bye-week, and the Friday contest means Clemson had one less day of rest than usual.
Here’s what our beat writers predict will happen when the Tigers visit the Carrier Dome on Friday night:
Roshan Fernandez (4-2)
Is Clemson still Clemson?
Syracuse 20, Clemson 17
When Dino Babers was asked about Clemson’s passing offense, which ranks second-worst in the conference, he responded, “That’s the Clemson Tigers, c’mon … They’ve got about 150 stars over there,” in reference to their top-tier recruiting classes. He said that the Tigers are still the most talented team in the conference, and they’re still good, despite their uncharacteristic record and performances as of lately.
Syracuse, on the other hand, has affirmed preseason claims that this team isn’t like last year’s. The Orange have been on the brink of three straight victories, but they still lost two of three. They’ve caught some tough breaks over the past two weeks, and despite what Babers said about Clemson being talented, this isn’t the same Clemson that we know. This week could mark a massive turning point in SU’s season, and this team has shown it has the pieces and the potential to pull the win.
Connor Smith (3-3)
Party like it’s 2017
Syracuse 17, Clemson 13
Clemson has only scored more than 21 points once this season — against South Carolina State, a Football Championship Subdivision team. Since Syracuse joined the Atlantic Coast Conference eight years ago, the Tigers have only lost a total of 14 games. They have won two national championships and six conference titles.
But the Tigers that Dabo Swinney will lead into the Carrier Dome on Friday night aren’t the same team SU has faced over the last eight seasons. Instead of a No. 1 draft pick in Trevor Lawrence throwing touchdown pass after touchdown pass, Syracuse will face a relatively-inexperienced sophomore quarterback in DJ Uiagalelei who ranks ninth in the ACC in passing yards.
In 2017, Syracuse overcame the then-second-ranked Tigers 27-24 after Clemson’s starting quarterback, Kelly Bryant, was knocked out with a head injury. In his place, freshman backup Zerrick Cooper couldn’t lead Clemson to any fourth-quarter points. SU fans stormed the field after Dino Babers’ first significant victory. Without the same strong offense as years past, Swinney and the Tigers will again leave central New York with an upset loss, and Syracuse fans will party again — just like 2017.
Anish Vasudevan (3-3)
Syracuse 17, Clemson 25
Garrett Shrader said that the Orange are “trending in the right direction” but that they are just not winning games. There’s no way to dispute that this is the case, as Shrader’s promotion to starter has amplified Babers’ fast-paced offense even more. And with Sean Tucker as Shrader’s Robin, Syracuse has averaged 30.3 points in the last three games.
While Syracuse has been trending upwards, Clemson has been going downhill, falling to unranked for the first time since 2014. But this fall for the Tigers is from a high pedestal, and they’ve only dropped a few games. Clemson is still one of the best teams in the country, and its offense led by Uiagalelei will be a threat on Friday night. The Tigers scored 47 points against SU’s 3-3-5 defense, and they will still find success despite the Orange’s improvements in the front. Syracuse’s fans will not flood the Carrier Dome field Friday night. This isn’t 2017.
The post Beat writers split on outcome of Syracuse’s game against Clemson appeared first on The Daily Orange.