GAME NOTES: The 21st-ranked Clemson Tigers welcome the Syracuse Orange to
Death Valley on Saturday for Homecoming at Memorial Stadium.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers remain within striking distance in the ACC’s Atlantic
Division at 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league play. Clemson’s lone loss on the
season was a 23-17 overtime setback at Florida State, but the Tigers have
righted the ship with wins in four straight games since, including last
weekend’s 17-13 victory at Boston College.
Scott Shafer’s Orange are sitting one game under .500 with a 3-4 overall
record. Syracuse is just 1-2 in league play, but did secure that lone ACC win
with last weekend’s 30-7 rout of Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. The win brought
an end to a four-game slide for Syracuse, after opening the season with two
This is just the third meeting between these two teams, with each program
winning once. Clemson tied things up with last year’s 49-14 rout at Syracuse.
Thanks to a pair of defensive touchdowns, Syracuse was able to distance itself
from the Demon Deacons and finally get back into the win column. Despite the
offense generating just over 400 yards of offense per game, a great deal of
that production was accomplished with quarterback Terrel Hunt under center.
The veteran dual threat however, is done for the season due to injury, paving
the way for youngsters A.J. Long and Mitch Kimble to see time under center,
neither of which are as savvy as Hunt.
Regardless of who is throwing the football, the top target in the passing game
remains Jarrod West, who leads the team in receptions (29) and receiving yards
A potent ground game that relied on Hunt’s running, now must lean more heavily
on tailbacks Prince-Tyson Gulley (418 yards, 1 TD) and Adonis Ameen-Moore (276
yards, 1 TD). Junior Devante McFarlane is coming off a career-high 114 yards
against Wake and adds yet another dimension the to Orange backfield.
Big plays like the ones against Wake Forest need to come with more frequency
the rest of the way, with the offense at less than full strength. Syracuse is
holding foes to a respectable 357.4 yards per game.
Linebacker Cameron Lynch headlines the defense for Syracuse, and is playing as
well as any linebacker in the conference, with 53 total tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5.5
sacks, one forced fumble and one safety to his credit. Help comes in the form
of safety Durell Eskridge (35 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FR) and Marquez Hodge (28
tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks).
The Tigers are still getting it done at a high rate on offense this season,
despite losing key pieces to the puzzle. The team is averaging 440.1 yards per
Like Syracuse, Clemson has also fallen victim to injuries on the offensive
side of the football, as talented young gun slinger Deshaun Watson is out
indefinitely with a hand injury, while leading tailback Adam Choice (218
yards, 1 TD) was recently lost for the season with a knee injury.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris specifically addressed the backfield woes
“It’s been really unfortunate for our backfield, losing Zac (Brooks) and Adam
for the season,” Morris said. “We’ve had some frustration. But hey, that’s
football. You’ve got to go play.”
The good news for Clemson is that the team has a veteran to call on at
quarterback with senior Cole Stoudt stepping in. Stoudt has started four games
this season and has completed almost 62 percent of his passes, for 934 yards
and one TD.
Receiving depth comes in the form of freshman Artavis Scott (38 rec, 443 yds,
3 TDs) and sophomore Mike Williams (30 rec, 671 yds, 4 TDs).
There aren’t many defenses in the nation as talent-rich as Clemson is. The
Tigers have playmakers at every level, resulting in impressive numbers across
the board. The front seven is particularly stout, with a devastating pass rush
that has amassed 267 sacks thus far.
All-American Vic Beasley is once again making plays upfield. Of his 18 total
tackles, 10.5 have come behind the line of scrimmage, including eight sacks.
Linebacker Stephone Anthony (team-high 52 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks),
defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (35 tackles) and safety Jayron Kearse (43
tackles) have to be accounted for as well.
The Orange will struggle in Death Valley to match Clemson score for score. The
Tigers will likely pin their ears back and come for Syracuse’s young signal
callers and that could spell a long day for the Orange.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 34, Syracuse 13