Clemson vs. Syracuse prediction: Can the Tigers survive the Dome?


by - Senior Writer -
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One more game and the Tigers get their first break since late July.

But that one game won’t be easy as No. 2 Clemson travels to New York to take on Syracuse in a rare Friday night ACC matchup. Can the Tigers survive a trip to the Carrier Dome? Will quarterback Kelly Bryant be healthy enough to start and play the entire game?

GAME 7 CLEMSON (6-0) AT SYRACUSE (3-3)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13 , 2017
Carrier Dome Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN (Dave LaMont, Mack Brown, Jen Lada)
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK (Don Munson, Tim Bourret, Sideline: Reggie Merriweather)
XM Radio Ch. 81 Sports USA Radio (Josh Appel, Charles Arbuckle)

SERIES HISTORY
Clemson Leads 4-1
at Syracuse: Clemson leads 2-0
at Clemson: Clemson leads 2-0
at Neutral Site: Syracuse leads 1-0
Since Syracuse Joined ACC: Clemson 4-0
1st Meeting: Syracuse 41-0 in 1995 Gator
Last Meeting: Clemson 54-0 in 2016
Streak: Clemson won 4 in a row Last Syracuse Win: 41-0 in 1995 Gator

NOTABLES

*Larry Czonka Nearly a Clemson Tiger? All-time Syracuse great Larry Czonka visited Clemson during his recruiting process in 1963 and had the Tigers in his final four schools. According to his Wikipedia page on the internet, Czonka considered Clemson, Vanderbilt, Iowa and Syracuse. Recruited by Clemson Coach Frank Howard, Czonka would have been a freshman at Clemson in 1964 and then played in 1965- 66 and 1967. Even without Czonka, that was a great era in Clemson football history as the Tigers won the ACC all three years. Czonka went on to a great career with the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

*Clemson will play a football game in New York for the fifth time. Clemson has a 2-1-1 record in the state of New York. The contests have included a 21-6 loss at Army in 1937, a 12-12 tie against Fordham in 1952, a 49-14 win at Syracuse in 2013 and a 37-27 win over the Orange in 2015.

*Clemson’s second Friday night game since 1956. This will be Clemson’s second regular season game on a Friday since November 16, 1956. The Tigers played a Friday night game last year at Boston College and came away with a 56-10 victory. Prior to that game in Boston last year, Clemson had not played a Friday game since that game in 1956 at Miami. Miami (FL) won that game 21-0 in Miami.

Prior to last year, the last time Clemson won a Friday night game was in 1952, a 13-0 win over Boston College at Braves Field. Clemson has played more games on Fridays in the regular season over its history than one would think. This will actually be the 44th regular season game in Clemson football history played on a Friday. The Tigers are 24-14-5 in Friday regular season games.

Some of Clemson’s best bowl wins in history have come on Fridays. At the top of the list was the Jan. 1, 1982 Orange Bowl win over Nebraska, 22-15. That win gave Clemson its first National Championship. The December 29, 1978 win over Woody Hayes and Ohio State was on a Friday, as was a 35-10 victory over defending National Champion Penn State in the Jan. 1, 1988 Florida Citrus Bowl. The 40-35 win over Ohio State on Jan. 3, 2014 was also on a Friday.

WHY SYRACUSE MIGHT WIN

The Orange offense is putting up good numbers. Junior quarterback Eric Dungey ranks in the top 10 nationally in completions per game (4th - 28.0), passing yards (8th - 1,802) and total offense yards per game (5th - 354.5). His 17 touchdowns responsible for are more than Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (16) and USC’s Sam Darnold (15). In addition, Dungey’s eight rushing scores are more than reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson (7).

Senior wide receivers Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips remain the top active FBS receiving duo in the nation. The pair have combined for 356 receptions in their collegiate careers. Ishmael currently leads the country in receptions per game (9.3), while Philips ranks fourth (8.7). Through six games, Ishmael leads the nation in receptions (56) and receiving yards (729).

The defense is playing better than it did last season. Syracuse has held its opposition to 24.3 points per game this season, an improvement of 14.3 points per game from last year (38.6). Opponents are 1-for-27 (.037) on third down in the first half of games played in the Carrier Dome this season. Last week against Pitt, Syracuse did not allow a third-down conversion until the fourth quarter. The Orange are third in the ACC and sixth nationally in third-down conversion percentage defense (.247).

If the Tigers come in flat, Syracuse is dangerous enough to pull off the upset.

WHY CLEMSON MIGHT WIN

Clemson boasts one of the nation’s top defenses. Through six contests, the Tigers lead the ACC and
rank fifth nationally in scoring defense, holding their opposition to 11.3 points per outing. The team also leads the league and ranks fifth in the country in sacks at 3.67 per game.

Junior defensive end Austin Bryant currently ranks second in the league and sixth nationally with 1.8 tackles for loss per outing. Against Wake Forest, Bryant recorded two of Clemson’s eight tackles for loss.

Clemson is one of just three teams in the nation averaging at least 230 yards rushing and 230 yards passing. Ohio State averages 245 rushing and 322 passing, while Oregon has 239 yards a game rushing and 254 passing. That balance has led Clemson to a 6-0 record overall and they are 4-0 in the ACC. As long as Clemson protects the football, they have an overwhelming advantage in spots. Syracuse will start two freshmen on their offensive line, not a recipe for success against Clemson’s front four.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

Syracuse head coach Dino Babers is one of my favorite ACC coaches, and I think he’s a fast-rising star in the coaching ranks. The Orange appear to be better-coached than they’ve been in years past, and he’ll have a few tricks up his sleeve. Add in a big crowd and Clemson looking ahead to the open date, there are a few signs that point to a Syracuse upset.

Won’t happen. The Cuse offense will hit a few big plays, but their offensive line won’t be able to generate much of a rush and protecting Dungey will be a chore all night. Whether Bryant plays or not, the Tigers will be able to run the football and hit a few big plays. In other words, we might see a carbon copy of Clemson’s earlier games – the offense gets a lead, the defense smacks the other team around, the reserves come in and give up a late score or two.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 34, SYRACUSE 13


GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 34-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 38-14 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 30-10 Clemson
Brandon Rink - Staff writer - 41-14 Clemson
Daniel Shirley - Sports Editor, Macon Telegraph - 35-10 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 33-10 Clemson

GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki HoodBrandon RinkDaniel ShirleyPigskin Prophet
Kent St56-3 CU47-6 CU56-7 CU49-14 CU47-13 CU52-3 CU51-10 CU55-10 CU
Auburn14-6 CU24-20 CU27-20 CU28-21 CU28-20 CU27-24 CU24-10 CU27-17 CU
Lou47-21 CU31-23 CU27-24 CU31-21 CU27-20 CU34-27 CU28-17 CU34-20 CU
BC34-7 CU47-6 CU38-10 CU45-14 CU38-10 CU48-10 CU40-10 CU47-10 CU
VT31-17 CU27-16 CU31-17 CU28-17 CU30-20 CU24-20 CU24-17 CU30-17 CU
Wake28-14 CU34-10 CU34-14 CU31-10 CU35-13 CU38-13 CU38-7 CU37-13 CU
Points - 61468688

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner


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