Clemson vs. Syracuse prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tigers and Orange on Saturday in Clemson, SC.
Clemson vs. Syracuse Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 5 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC
TV Broadcast: ABC/ESPN 2
Deshaun Watson had 430 yards of total offense to help the Tigers (8-0, 5-0 ACC) hold off Florida State last Saturday night, as the quarterback’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett with 2:02 remaining gave Dabo Swinney’s squad the lead for good. Clemson remains on track for a spot in a College Football Playoff semifinal game, as it passed another one of its biggest tests of the year.
Meanwhile, the Orange (4-4, 2-2) had last week off following their 28-20 road win against Boston College. In the victory over the Eagles, quarterback Eric Dungey threw three touchdown passes and wide receiver Ervin Phillips had a pair of scores.
When these two teams met last season, Watson had 461 total yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers held off Syracuse 37-27. Watson completed 34 of 47 passes for 360 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 105 yards and a score.
What To Know About Clemson
Swinney’s squad has very good wins over Auburn and Louisville, so taking care of business the rest of the way all but guarantees that the Tigers will have a chance to play for a national championship in this season’s College Football Playoff. But there has been some sloppy play off and on throughout the year for this team, and it almost resulted in a home loss to NC State a few weeks ago. Playing down to its competition is a risky proposition when trying to earn a CFP berth. There’s no question that this team can compete with any other squad in the nation, but Swinney is looking for his Tigers to play their best football down the stretch without taking their foot off of the gas pedal. And Syracuse can provide some problems this week, so this team must be on high alert.
What to Know About Syracuse
In the victory over the Eagles, Dungey went 32-of-38 passing for 434 yards. He also ran 17 times for 54 yards, and it’s obvious that he is getting more and more comfortable in this Dino Babers offense. This Orange squad could be primed for a bowl game this year because of its breakthrough win a few weeks ago over Virginia Tech. It seemingly turned a corner in that game, and the prolific offense (486.8 yards per game) helps offset a porous defense (450.8 yards allowed per contest).
Offense: Clemson. This is a Syracuse team that could hang with the Tigers because the offense continues to improve, but the Tigers are averaging 36.6 points per contest operating behind Watson.
Defense: Clemson. The Tigers are allowing just 17.6 points per game.
Special Teams: Clemson. The Tigers held FSU to a long kickoff return of just 22 yards, and the Seminoles were held without a return attempt on punts last week. In addition, Tigers kicker Greg Huegel hit all three of his field goal attempts, including his second-longest of the season (46 yards) to take a fourth-quarter lead.
Coaching: Clemson. What Babers is doing in his first year at ‘Cuse is very impressive, but Swinney has his Tigers primed for another CFP berth.
Intangibles: Even. Syracuse certainly has nothing to lose, while Clemson has a CFP berth to give away. But Swinney knows that his team must play its best football down the stretch.
Matchup To Watch
Dungey vs. Clemson secondary
This passing attack of the Orange is cooking at the right time. Dungey had just six incompletions and went well over the 400-yard passing mark in the team’s win against BC, but he will be going up against a nasty defense this week. Still, he may be able to find some open passing lanes. The Tigers’ secondary is a bit banged up, as three defensive backs suffered injuries against the Seminoles. Safety Jadar Johnson (calf), cornerback Marcus Edmond (toe) and cornerback Trayvon Mullen (ankle) all have nagging injuries that aren’t considered serious. But the ‘Cuse plays fast, so we’ll see how well the entire defense—specifically the secondary—holds up for the Tigers.
Spread: Clemson -28
Clemson vs. Syracuse Prediction
I’m no betting man, but Clemson -28 seems awfully large to me. Syracuse has been playing much better football as of late. And while I expect Clemson to be much sharper the rest of the season as it looks ahead to a CFP berth, the Tigers are coming off of an emotional win against division rival Florida State. I expect at least a competitive first half before the Tigers’ defense cranks up and helps them pull away in the second half.
Clemson vs. Syracuse Score Prediction: Clemson 41, Syracuse 24