‘Cuse Countdown Previews Football vs. Clemson
The last time Syracuse and Clemson met, we saw a lopsided game that began with Eric Dungey’s season-ending injury. CitrusTV’s Nick Dugan, Chris Thomsen and Christian De Guzman see if the Orange can get revenge in the Carrier Dome.
Plus, ur analysts give their thoughts and predictions on SU’s matchup Friday night against the reigning champions.
How will Clemson win: Get to Eric Dungey
Clemson’s Defense is vicious, averaging almost 4 sacks per game. Syracuse’s offensive line has allowed 15 sacks this season. If the Tigers, especially Austin Bryant, can get to Eric Dungey, as they did last year, Clemson will thrive. More than this, Clemson’s defense is 8th in the nation for yards allowed in a game. Syracuse has proven they have practically no running game beside Eric Dungey, so if Clemson can limit the passing game with their strong secondary, SU will have no offense.
How will Syracuse win: Prevent Kelly Bryant from Running
The front seven needs to contain QB Kelly Bryant. He has proven to be a mobile quarterback, making up yards on the ground he can’t complete through the air. He has only 4 passing touchdowns this season, but 7 on the ground. Of course sacks are valuable, but preventing him from being able to run is crucial.
Prediction: Clemson 42-10
It is difficult to see how Syracuse can compete with Clemson. The SU defense, especially the front seven, has shown it can step up against competitive offenses, such as LSU and NC State. But it has never been enough to make up for offensive woes. Since Syracuse has joined the ACC, Clemson has won all 4 games by at least double digits. I don’t see this being any different.
How Clemson Wins: Don’t overlook the Orange
The Tigers have a bye week next week. After such a great start to the 2017 season for Clemson, it could be easy for it to look over 3-3 Syracuse. As long as that doesn’t happen, I don’t see a scenario where the Tigers lose. They have an abundance of talent on their roster and haven’t skipped a beat since the national championship game. Kelly Bryant should be good to go, so injuries are no longer a concern for the Tigers.
How Syracuse Wins: Start fast and stay fast
In the past few weeks, SU has struggled out of the gate. Against a team like Clemson, getting off to a slow start results in getting blown out. Frankly, the Orange needs a lot more in this game than a fast start. However, starting slow will put it in a hole that it won’t be able to get out of. This would be a huge upset for the Orange. In order to win, most SU players will need to have the game of their lives on Friday.
Prediction: Clemson 42-17
Syracuse doesn’t yet have enough firepower on its roster to win these games against top-tier ACC opponents. I do expect Syracuse to come out focused in the first half. Scoring 17 points against the number two team in the country would be huge for the Orange. At the end of the day, the offensive line struggles to protect Dungey and the Orange fall to 3-4.
How Clemson Wins: Show Up to the Dome
To be blunt, SU doesn’t have much of a chance to win. Despite playing three other ranked opponents so far this season – No. 13 Auburn, No. 14 Louisville and No. 12 Virginia Tech – Clemson has not given up more than 21 points in a game. Meanwhile, the Tigers are scoring an average 35 points a game. Syracuse should use this game as a learning opportunity: watch different aspects and techniques of Clemson’s play and possibly adopt some of them to make the Orange better in the future.
How Syracuse Wins: Key to the Game: Run an Even Faster Offense:
Syracuse has to move even faster against the Clemson defense. Right now, Syracuse’s offense is just slightly faster that in was last year. The Orange currently averages 21.26 seconds per play compared to the 2016 average of 21.28 seconds per play. If Syracuse wants to beat Clemson, the Orange will have to deliver on it’s 2017 promise of being “faster.” If SU can do so and wear out the Tigers’ defense, the top-35 SU offense might be able to catch the Tigers’ defense sleeping.
Prediction 48-13 Clemson
Syracuse might score, but not early in the game. Once Clemson gets a solid lead, the Tigers might loosen up a little bit, allowing the Orange to squeeze out a few points. But, overall, this game will be a circus with the Tigers as the main act.
How Clemson Wins: Play the Clemson Way
Embracing a championship mentality, Clemson should have no problem playing against the Orange and their Dome crowd. The Syracuse defense, impressive as of late, is still no match for quarterback Kelly Bryant and his elite QBR of 137.1. By sticking to the playbook as usual, the Tigers should win big.
How Syracuse Wins: Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips
If the Orange want to execute on that sliver of a chance, they need to embrace their stellar duo of wide receivers. Steve Ishmael, on the outside, and Ervin Philips, in the middle, have been Dungy’s saving grace for pretty much every game. If those two continue to get targets before Dungy gets swallowed by Clemson’s D-line, the Orange might be fast enough to outdo the defending champs.
Prediction: Clemson 45-31
This game is going to be a shootout, a serious guns-a-blazing in an old western saloon shootout with both quarterbacks firing on all cylinders. However, Clemson is just too good. Syracuse may wear the better shade of orange, but Clemson will leave the Carrier Dome with a win that counts.
How will Clemson win: Defensive Line Dominates
Clemson just has to be themselves on Friday night to leave the Dome with a win. However, the Tigers can really make this thing ugly if its defensive line comes ready to play. Clemson has been a breeding ground for NFL defensive linemen ever since Dabo Swinney took over, and this year is no different. Swinney’s defense has arguably the deepest front seven in the nation. And to make matters worse, SU’s offensive line is really just not very good. If all goes according to script and Clemson’s D-line overpowers Syracuse Friday the Tigers will take care of business regardless of how Kelly Bryant and the offense fare.
How will Syracuse win:
Marvin Harrison, Donovan McNabb and Chandler Jones will figure out time travel and all go back to college just in time for Friday night. Joking aside, SU’s chances hinge on the offensive side of the ball. To have any chance, Syracuse must tire out Clemson’s stout defensive line. Meaning, the Orange REALLY needs to be the new fast Friday. As fast as it’s ever been in the Dino Babers era. If Dungey and Company get moving at breakneck speed, Clemson will make some defensive mistakes and the talent disparity will be minimized. Syracuse might develop some big plays from blown tackles and assignments and somehow make one of the best units in all of college football somewhat vulnerable. It’s nearly impossible to crack Clemson’s armor but SU’s offensive tempo is the best weapon it has.
Prediction: Clemson 31 Syracuse 13
It’s not going to be as bad as the 54-0 drubbing Clemson laid on Syracuse last year. However, it’s still not going to be all that close. All the talk leading up to this one will be about Kelly Bryant and the Clemson offense, but the Tigers defense is really what makes them special. The SU defense will hold its own, but at the end of the day Clemson’s D will expose SU’s offensive line and Dabo’s bunch won’t have to score that much anyways.
How Syracuse Wins: Eric Dungey Plays the Game of his Life
It’s going to take the act of a divine entity for Syracuse to beat Clemson. The #2 team in the country boasts one of the most dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation in Kelly Bryant. The last time ‘Cuse faced a quarterback this electric through the air and on the ground, Lamar Jackson hung 62 points on the Orange. The only way ‘Cuse walks away with a win is if Eric Dungey produces one of the all-time great collegiate performances.
How Clemson Wins: Dominate the Defensive Line of Scrimmage
Clemson boasts one of the best defensive lines in the entire nation. Sophomore Dexter Lawrance is arguably the best defensive tackle in the country. Clemson can wreck the Orange’s game plan by suffocating the running game up front and containing Eric Dungey from making plays with his legs. If Clemson’s defensive line just plays up to its usual standard, Syracuse is in for a long day on offense.
This game is a win for the Orange if a crowd of 30,000+ shows up to view the game and they don’t leave before half-time. Eric Dungey finishing the game without an “upper body injury” would be a huge bonus too.
How Clemson wins: Bring A Full Roster to the Carrier Dome
Top to bottom, the Tigers are filled with some of the most talented college football players in the country. If Clemson plays decent enough on each side of the field, the 21-point road favorites should have no problem in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse on Friday night.
How Syracuse wins: Play the Best Game in SU History
For the Orange to stand any chance against the defending national champions, everything, yes, everything must click. Eric Dungey and Steve Ishmael must be on the same page for the entire 60 minutes, the defense must make Kelly Bryant uncomfortable, and a couple of turnovers need to go SU’s way. If all these things line up correctly, maybe, just maybe, the Orange can make it a game in the fourth quarter. From there, anything can happen.
Prediction: Clemson 38, Syracuse 25
Aside from last year’s game down in Death Valley, Syracuse has put up respectable fights against some of the nation’s best. Two years ago, it was just a two-score game against the Tigers in the Dome, as well as keeping LSU on its toes. Expect the same story here. SU fans will have just enough hope to stick around past halftime, and then the Tigers do what they do best: pull away.
How Clemson Wins: Spread the Wealth on Offense
Year in and year out, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney recruits some of the best offensive talent in the country at the skill positions and that trend holds true with this year’s Tigers. The amount of weapons that first-year quarterback Kelly Bryant has are nearly innumerable. Guys like running back Travis Etienne and wide receivers Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain all have the ability to break big plays at any given time and can change the course of a game if they all click. Although the Syracuse defense has been better than expected, it will have a tough time holding up against the sheer amount of talent that the Tigers possess.
How SU Wins: Keep Kelly Bryant in the Pocket
Bryant is an incredibly talented quarterback that has filled in wonderfully after Deshaun Watson went to the NFL. However, he is not infallible and there is one area of his game that Syracuse may be able to take advantage of. Bryant is an excellent runner and loves to make and extend plays with his feet. He’s probably more comfortable running around and makes his best plays on the move. However, when he’s in the pocket he becomes a bit more vulnerable and sometimes struggles to deliver accurate passes under pressure. So if the Orange defense can make him uncomfortable and not allow him to use his legs to his advantage, Bryant may struggle and make poor decisions, which could lead to a massive upset for SU.
Prediction: Clemson 41-17
Clemson is just flat out more talented than Syracuse. The offense is filled with playmakers and the defensive front is stingy and athletic. Dominant on both sides of the ball, the Tigers are one of the best coached teams in the country and really shouldn’t have any issues with the Orange on Friday.