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Second half thread: Syracuse 17, Clemson 14

Syracuse came out firing and has looked better than the No. 2 team in the nation so far.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve got a game folks!

The Syracuse Orange are up 17-14 over the No. 2 Clemson Tigers... just like we all thought. Eric Dungey is 11-of-17 passing with 193 yards through the air. An aggressive first possession and big pass play to Ervin Phillips gave the Orange a 14-7 lead after the first. Clemson battled back in the second following a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown to tie it back up. The Orange answered late in the 2nd with a field goal to go up 17-14.

So how does Syracuse pull this one out?

Keep Up The Tempo

Clemson has played man coverage on nearly every snap this half. Cat coverage is generally defeated by bunch formations, motions, and shifts schematically and we’ve seen Syracuse do all of that on one play and then combine it with tempo up the field. Clemson’s defensive backs haven’t been able to keep up evidenced by the pre-snap confusion and blown coverages down field — one allowing Erv Phillips to walk into the endzone.

Three different Syracuse receivers have a catch of 15 yards or more, if the Orange can continue to push this Clemson defense vertically, they may be able to create opportunities for themselves later on in the game.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Solidify The Defense

Kelly Bryant left the game late in the second quarter after suffering a probable concussion. Whether or not he returns in the second half, Syracuse will need to solidify its run and pass defense. Four different running backs for Clemson have a rush of 10 yards or more. Syracuse can’t absorb those kinds of chuck yardage plays in the second half and still win the game.

Against the pass we saw Syracuse’s pass rush come to life forcing 2 incomplete passes and an intentional grounding on one Clemson’s final series. In order for the Orange to maintain this kind of aggression, the back end will need to hold up and not allow Bryant or any other Clemson quarterback to find a way get the ball out of his hands easily or across the middle.

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That being said, Syracuse certainly has the chance. This game has all the makings of an upset. Fasten your seat belts everyone.