Does Syracuse have a chance against Clemson?
Well, on paper, it might not seem so.
Syracuse has lost every regular season game against Clemson ever. The only victory SU has over the Tigers came in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1996 when the Orange walked away with a 41-0 W in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Tigers are also the defending national champions this season. And yeah, that’s last year. Some of Clemson’s best players have left the orange, white and purple for the NFL. Deshaun Watson—who tore Syracuse apart last season in a 54-0 rout of Syracuse—is now under center for the Houston Texans. Mike Williams is catching passes for the Los Angeles Chargers. Cordrea Tankersley, Wayne Gallman, Carlos Watkins, Jordan Leggett and others have all moved on from their South Carolina college home.
But… Clemson is still ranked. Not just ranked, but ranked at No. 2.
Also, the Tigers are 6-0 to start the season. And 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 (nearly 31 if you leave out the 56-3 domination of Kent State to lead off the season).
But, for Syracuse fans, put the paper in the shredder! Of course the Orange has a chance! That’s why we play the games.
And here’s how Syracuse can come out on top: wear out the Clemson defense. Rapid fire offensive plays.
We know this by now: fast is Dino Babers’ strategy.
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. (That’s a difference of 0.02 seconds per play—that’s a difference five times shorter than a blink of an eye.)
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 will be able to get to work.
So why get bogged down about what the paper says now? Have some optimism about what it might say next week.
Published: David Edelstein