This post is sponsored by 315Tees. Support TNIAAM by clicking on their banner to check out the Syracuse-themed t-shirts they've got for sale. 315Tees is also giving TNIAAM readers a special where if they use the code "TNIAAM" at checkout and they’ll get Free shipping on their order. That code will expire October 31 at 11:59PM, so, get to it!
Clemson 19 - Syracuse 13
Well, this one won't be a blowout like last year at the Dome. While that seems like a fairly sad running narrative on a season that seems almost-sure to take on its fifth loss this Saturday, it is something. While Syracuse has been extremely up and down this year, it has played every team tough, including two in Florida State and Notre Dame that could very well play for a National Championship. The offense looks better with A.J. Long, and should gain a bit of explosiveness with Brisly Estime and Ashton Broyld back in the arsenal this weekend. The defense has been opportunistic, and should give Clemson's Cole Stoudt trouble this weekend. At the end of the day, Clemson still has more talent, and Death Valley is probably the most difficult venue that SU will play at this season, but this should be another close one that Syracuse has a legitimate chance to win.
Clemson 24 - Syracuse 9
Clemson's offense is a dumpster fire as it proved last week against BC, but their defense is too much for the Orange to overcome. We force turnovers deep in their territory but can't punch the ball in as the red-zone woes continue, and end up kicking 3 field goals from inside the 10. This is going to be a rock fight, but being on the road and having a defense like they have will be our downfall.
The Invisible Swordsman
Clemson 27 - Syracuse 13
A year ago, I stood before you all and boldly predicted that Syracuse would defeat the Clemson Tigers in front of a rabid Carrier Dome crowd, and put an exclamation point on The Orange's arrival in the ACC. Within the first 10 minutes of the game, I realized that prediction was folly, and the only exclamation points of note were the one accompanying HCMFSS's tirade on Dabo Swinney at the end of the first half. This time, my vision is a bit less Orange-tinted, and I can't see a victory against a Clemson team that, while not as talented on offense as in 2013, is defensively better. We'll be more competitive this time around, but Clemson will be too much at home for the Orange to walk away with a surprise "W"
Clemson 27 - Syracuse 13
I have to believe Syracuse opens the game in awe of Death Valley, which should lead to some early Clemson scores. It'll be a quick couple of jabs to the stomach. A very classic response for an SU team, regardless of coach it seems.
Eventually, the Orange should settle in -- maybe even another Big Guy Touchdown? -- and make this one of those "it's not really close, but it's kind of close" games -- similar to the Florida State loss at home. Also, I think A.J. Long has somewhat of an off night, but he should still end up impressing us enough. We will see more good than bad from Long, just not enough good to keep the Orange in it.
Syracuse 23 - Clemson 21
No, that's not a typo. And no, this isn't just a homer pick. Remember, I was the only member of the TNIAAM crew to pick the Orange to lose to Louisville a few weeks ago. But I've been feeling oddly confident about this game all week. This isn't the same Syracuse team that looked so inept in that Louisville game. This Syracuse team is healthier and led by an A.J. Long who is quickly proving he might be the long-term answer at quarterback.
This also isn't the same Clemson team that hung with a Jameis Winston-less Florida State last month, nor is it the one that beat NC State 41-0 three weeks ago. The Tigers haven't been the same since Deshaun Watson went down. They've come dangerously close to falling victim to upsets in back-to-back weeks, first against Louisville in Death Valley and then at Boston College last Saturday. Eventually, I have to believe they'll lose a game they probably shouldn't. I think that game happens tomorrow night.
Clemson 23 - Syracuse 16
Another game, another instance of Syracuse not being able to figure out how the offensive red zone works. Despite driving the ball well on several possessions, the Orange simply can't punch it in more than once, and they pay dearly on the scoreboard. Clemson's defense is able to generate enough pressure to keep A.J. Long scrambling for his life, but when SU transitions to the run game, things get much more effective. Clemson will force at least one turnover, and their offense will reap the benefit of a short field. The score above may indicate a closer match than it ends up being -- with Syracuse tacking on a field goal in the late minutes after failing to get it in while down 10. Still, some progress... even if we're not fully there yet.
Clemson 31 - Syracuse 13
I'd love to tell you that Syracuse has a chance because Clemson is decimated by injuries and the Orange have a renewed sense of purpose and a propensity for winning crazy games like this when they're least expected to. But...we can't score in the redzone. Clemson's defense is probably going to make sure we don't score much at all. So as well as our defense might be able to limit a wounded Tiger offense, it won't be enough. And the game will get away from us in the end.
How about you?