Teams: Syracuse Orange (4-0, 1-0) vs. Clemson Tigers (4-0, 1-0)
Day & Time: Saturday, September 29, noon ET
Location: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
Line: Syracuse, +23 (opened at +21)
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3, SiriusXM: 955 (home) | 971 (away)
Clemson blog: Shakin the Southland
Rivalry: Clemson, 4-2
Current Streak: 1, Orange (HA!)
First Meeting: An unranked Orangemen squad headed to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville to take on No. 23 Clemson on New Year’s Day 1996. New Year was far from happy for the Tigers, however, as they fell 41-0 to Donovan McNabb and Syracuse. Until we joined the ACC, it was a fun bit of history to hold over Clemson’s head.
Last Meeting: You may recall a certain upset of the year in 2017, when No. 2 Clemson came up to the Carrier Dome and suffered a shocking 27-24 loss. Some people may point to Kelly Bryant’s departure as the reason for the defeat, but that’s also bogus. If the Tigers were as good as we were told, then shouldn’t their backup quarterback be able to beat us as well? In any case, it was nice to collect the win against our #DISRESPECK-laden conference overlords.
Head Coaches: SU: Dino Babers (3rd year, 12-16); Clemson: Dabo Swinney (10th/11thish year, 105-30)
Coach Bio: Williams Christopher Swinney played wide receiver for Alabama in the early 90s, then stuck around Tuscaloosa afterward to get into coaching with the Tide. He served on the ‘Bama staff in some capacity from 1993-2000, before getting fired in 2001 with the rest of Mike DuBose’s staff. He worked in real estate for a couple years before heading to Clemson, working his way up from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator, and then interim head coach in the back half of 2008. Swinney’s 4-3 record to close the year was enough to earn him the full-time job, especially when combined with his recruiting expertise. Since taking over the Tigers, he’s won six Atlantic Division titles, four ACC championships and one national title.
Last Year: Powered by the country’s top defensive line, Clemson won its third straight ACC championship despite losing to Syracuse during the regular season. However, instead of a third trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship, the Tigers were beaten 24-6 by eventual champion Alabama in the semifinals. The Orange and the Tide remain the two most recent teams to defeat Clemson.
Last Game: Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers stomped Georgia Tech in Atlanta, by a score of 49-21. The former five-star QB threw four touchdowns, while Travis Etienne ran for 122 yards on the day. Clemson’s offense looked far more capable in the hands of Lawrence, while the defense held its own against the Wreck’s option attack. The Tigers had four sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the afternoon.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Watch out for Lawrence and Etienne, of course. But the name to be most concerned with is junior defensive end Clelin Ferrell. He has 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks to lead Clemson so far this year, and could wreak some real havoc on Syracuse’s offensive line come Saturday. We’ve allowed lesser linemen to get into the backfield this year, as you may be aware.
If Syracuse Wins: This thing’s a rocket ship that we may never get off. Syracuse would be 5-0 for the first time since the magical 1987 season, and would be in the driver’s seat for the ACC title and maybe more. We’d also be ranked for the first time since 2001 (and would probably be top-15 at that). No matter what else happened this season, we’d never let the Tigers hear the end of it.
If Syracuse Loses: It’s probably fine. The biggest concern here is that we don’t suffer any major injuries (see: Dungey, Eric in 2016). As long as we don’t lose by 40, we’re still in fine shape to make a bowl game and do a lot of other awesome things this season.
Fun Fact No. 1: Via ESPN’s David Hale —
Saturday’s game between Clemson and Syracuse will be the 7th time in the past decade 2 ACC teams that were 4-0 or better face off.— A David Hale joint (@DavidHaleESPN) September 23, 2018
Only 1 (Lou-Clem) decided by less than 14.
Fun Fact No. 2: Here’s Babers’s locker room speech after the Clemson win last year, in case you had a brick wall you needed to run through or something...