After a bye week, the Syracuse Orange (4-4, 2-2) are on the road yet again, this time against the no. 2 Clemson Tigers (8-0, 5-0) at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. For those not headed down to Clemson (would assume a decent amount of us), you can catch the game on ABC or ESPN2, depending on where you are. The Tigers started the week as a 28.5-point favorite. Even though that line’s traveled south a bit (between 26 and 27), Clemson’s still expected to win by quite a bit.
So what does the TNIAAM staff think will happen on Saturday?
Clemson 42, Syracuse 21
I'm sticking with a round TD number for the Orange this week as we've seen our kicking game not show up all that well. If the Orange can establish the run (not likely), work the short passing game (semi-likely) or some combination and protect Dungey (meh?) we can put points up. To make it a game, we'd have to combine that with getting to Deshaun Watson and playing pass defense. Either of those could happen, but we need a perfect game to pull this remotely off and it's not happening. Clemson's that good.
Clemson 41, Syracuse 23
The biggest issue facing the Orange this weekend is the Clemson DL. I don't know if Syracuse can protect Eric Dungey long enough to give time for the passing game to really develop. When Clemson has the ball, look for Syracuse to force Deshaun Watson into a couple of turnovers, but ultimately the talent on the Tigers will take over and make enough plays to lead to a comfortable win.
Clemson 38, Syracuse 21
Clemson is the more talented team, and based on the last two seasons of results, they probably won't run down the hill expecting to trounce Syracuse by showing up. However, Syracuse should also have some confidence based on how it has played the Tigers in recent years. Obviously it'd be a bit crazy to take the Orange to win in Death Valley, as high off of our two-game winning streak as we may all be, but I don't see this being a total laugher. I like Syracuse to cover the big four-touchdown spread but Clemson to win without too much worry.
Clemson 45, Syracuse 24
Syracuse still has a chance to grab one more win to become bowl-eligible, but it won't come against No. 3 Clemson. The Tigers, as Dino Babers even admitted on the ACC coaches teleconference, are simply too much of a complete team. Clemson ranks 26th in points per game, with 36.3, 11th in points per game allowed, with 17.6, and boast a kicker in Greg Huegel who has made 11 of 13 field goals and 32 of 33 extra points. While much has been said regarding the fact five of Clemson's eight wins have come by seven points or less, it also speaks volume to the fact Clemson has been able to maintain their composure and win all five of those games.
While Syracuse's defense has played better of late, and will get Cordell Hudson back from injury, they'll still be no match for Heisman trophy candidate Deshaun Watson, receiver Mike Williams and running back Wayne Gallman. Expect Eric Dungey and company to keep pace with Clemson early, but ultimately the Tigers will pull away in the second half and continue their undefeated run.
Clemson 45, Syracuse 28
Originally went with 27 points for SU, but that likely means a field goal or two on the board, and... that’s not something we’ve been able to do lately. Syracuse will come out firing here, and that could alter the character of this game for a half or so as Clemson adjusts its gameplan to keep up with the Orange spread. But eventually, penalties and turnovers are a death knell for SU in the third quarter. Eric Dungey still manages a productive game, but not enough to knock off the nation’s second-ranked team which will have the Orange defense on its heels for much of the afternoon.
Clemson 48, Syracuse 17
Am I going to have to be the monster who says this is the game that things revert back to how they were against Louisville and Notre Dame? We can agree that Syracuse is a better team and that if this game was being played in the Carrier Dome like last year...who knows. I want to live in a world where Syracuse can hold it's own against Clemson consistently. But I cannot believe this team, with it's banged-up offensive line and shaky defending backs, will be able to march into Death Valley and do serious damage. I am all for being proven wrong but this is a case where the last couple weeks don't matter because the talent gap is just too wide, especially in a hostile atmosphere.
Now it’s your turn...