The No. 1 Clemson Tigers will be in action Saturday night as they pay a visit to face the Syracuse Orange, a team that’s given them more trouble than any other team in the country the past couple of seasons. On the road, the Tigers are listed as 27.5-point favorites over Syracuse with an over/under of 64.5 points.
The Tigers, of course, have taken care of business in their first two games this season, extending their winning streak to 17 games. Clemson obliterated ACC rival Georgia Tech to open the season, then avoided a letdown last week at home against Texas A&M, winning 24-10 over a team that pushed them to the brink in 2018.
Meanwhile, Syracuse has already had an up-and-down year through just two games. The Orange handled a tricky road game against Liberty in their opener, winning 24-0. However, they were badly outplayed last week by Maryland, falling on the road 63-20.
Dome Sweet Dome
After playing their first two games on the road, a rarity for a power-conference team, Syracuse finally plays its home opener at the Carrier Dome this week. The Orange was 6-0 at home last season. They also pulled off a huge upset over Clemson at the Dome in 2017. With the Tigers barely escaping an upset bid from Syracuse at home last season, Clemson should be fully aware of the threat the Orange pose, especially at home.
The hope from Syracuse’s perspective is that coming home will give their defense a boost after being humiliated against Maryland last week. On paper, Syracuse has arguably the best pass-rush tandem in the ACC in Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman, as well as a handful of defensive backs with NFL potential. Surely, that group is better than they showed last week. With quarterback Tommy DeVito still finding his way in his first year as a starter, the Orange doesn’t want to get into a shootout, so they’ll need their defense to come up big.
Finding Their Way
Most expected the Clemson offense to be close to unstoppable this season, but that hasn’t exactly been the case through two games. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has already thrown three interceptions to just two touchdown passes. Travis Etienne is also coming off a subpar performance against Texas A&M last week. In theory, the Clemson offense is poised to explode at any time, but perhaps not in a hostile road environment.
On the bright side, the Clemson defense has played better than expected. The Tigers lost all four defensive-line starters to the NFL after last season, but they’ve quickly reloaded and look as good as ever on that side of the ball. Of course, when the Syracuse up-tempo offense starts clicking, they can be tough to slow down.
Too Close for Comfort
Clemson is obviously a heavy favorite to win this game, but the 27.5-point spread feels a little high. Syracuse has played Clemson tough the past two seasons and won this meeting in the Carrier Dome two years ago. Despite the Orange’s defensive struggles last week, this doesn’t feel like a game the Tigers will win easily. Bet on Syracuse to beat the spread.