Logan Grossman (4-2): Clemson 45 Syracuse 14
We have talked all week about what Syracuse has to do to pull off a miracle win. When it comes down to it, a Syracuse win would be just that, a miracle. Clemson has proven once again to be National Championship contenders and have displayed no real weaknesses through the first six weeks of the season. Throw on top of all of that that a short week probably favors the more athletic team, which is clearly the Tigers, and you have a recipe for a potential blowout. Realistically the best that Syracuse fans can hope for is that they hang around long enough to make the game interesting.
Nate Dickinson (5-1): Clemson 50, Syracuse 28
If pretty 22-point losses exist, that’s what I’m picturing in my head. The Orange could very easily throw for a ton of yards, score a respectable amount of points and still get blown out by the Tigers tonight. Clemson is that good, and the SU defense is still that bad. Kelly Bryant needs to be flustered early if the Orange wants a fighter’s chance, but the odds of that happening aren’t worth betting on. Orange fans want Dino to be the next Dabo, but SU just isn’t there yet.
Tyler Aki (4-2): Clemson 35 Syracuse 20
The Orange has yet to lose a game by double digits this season, but that’s about to change. However, this is going to feel like another one of those moral victories. The Tigers are not as dynamic on offense as people think. Clemson has beat up on bad teams and hasn’t put up the eye-popping point totals you would expect against teams like Boston College and Wake Forest. This is a legitimate trap game for the Tigers, but that doesn’t mean Syracuse is some “shock the nation” team. It’s more circumstance. Clemson comes to Central New York on a short week with an ailing quarterback. That’s never a good sign for any team, but the Tigers are loaded enough at every position to still pull out a comfortable win.
Drew Carter (5-1): Clemson 38, Syracuse 17
Clemson has played two road games this season. The results: a 47-21 shellacking of then-No. 14 Louisville, and a comfortable 31-17 victory over then-No. 12 Virginia Tech. Syracuse, on the other hand, hasn’t lost a game by double-figures. Something’s gotta give. I’m guessing that the Orange does. SU has seen Clemson-level athletes only once this season: at the other Death Valley, LSU, where the Tigers couldn’t pull away because they couldn’t throw the football, allowing Syracuse’s improved run defense to cram the box and suffocate a one-dimensional offense. These Tigers are the furthest thing from one-dimensional — Clemson averages 237.3 rushing yards per game (20th in the nation), and its quarterback, Kelly Bryant, may be the closest thing to his predecessor, Deshaun Watson, that the nation can offer. Oh, and the defending national champs sit among the country’s top-eight in scoring defense, yards per game allowed, and yards per play allowed. The Orange is built to score garbage-time points, so I think the Cuse covers, but this matchup is never in doubt.
David Edelstein (5-1): Clemson 48 Syracuse 13
To be blunt, Syracuse does not have a chance against the defending national champions. Yeah, 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). 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. So, in all seriousness, 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. Syracuse might score, but not early in the game. Overall, this game will be a circus with the Tigers as the main act.
JD Raucci (5-1): Clemson 41 Syracuse 17
Boy would it be nice to see the Orange knock off an opponent the caliber of Clemson in the Carrier Dome. Unfortunately, I just don’t see a way this happens for Syracuse. The Tigers are the defending national champions and despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL in this April’s draft, they’ve simply put new four and five-star recruits in those voids. The defense is top-notch and limited the likes of reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson to less than 400 yards of total offense which is an astounding feat in and of itself (he averages nearly 420). As for the offense, well I have no doubts that they can get it done too. Starting QB Kelly Bryant is expected to play despite hurting his ankle in last week’s win over Wake Forest and the rest of the Tigers’ attack is littered with young weapons. Playing this season’s edition of the matchup inside the Dome may propel SU to not getting shut out, but in the end Dabo Swinney and company are the defending national champs and ranked No. 2 in the country for a reason. They’ll show exactly why versus the Orange on Friday. Let’s just hope Eric Dungey stays healthy this time around.
Tim Leonard (4-2): Clemson 31 Syracuse 13
It won’t be quite as ugly as last year but an Orange win is still a pipe dream at best. Clemson has re-loaded this season and picked up right where it left off. Everyone is talking about Kelly Bryant and rightfully so. However, let’s not forget that Clemson’s defense is really what makes this team a national title contender again. The Tigers may have the most talented and deep front seven in the entire country. And to make matters worse, SU’s offensive line is arguably one of the worst in the country. The SU defense will do its part and there will be less scoring than many are expecting. However, Clemson’s D-line is going to wreak havoc all night long and force the slumping Syracuse offense into many empty drives.
Jonathon Hoppe (1-0): Clemson 42 Syracuse 17
Don’t be surprised if this game is fairly competitive out of the gate. Not only is the status of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant in question, but the Tigers have to travel over 800 miles on a short week. This is also Clemson’s last game before its bye week, which makes the matchup an easy one to overlook. Given all that, it’s still hard for me to see the Orange keeping pace with the Tigers for a full 60 minutes. We saw a lot of positives last week for Syracuse, but I don’t think that success is going to carry over against the number two team in the country. The bottom line is that SU doesn’t have enough talent on its roster to compete with top-tier ACC teams like Clemson. For example, the Clemson defense has four players with two or more sacks this season. Syracuse doesn’t have a single player with multiple sacks so far in 2017. Dino Babers has talked time and time again about how the defensive lines really change the game. I expect that to be the case for Clemson in this matchup. Given that SU gave up three sacks last week to Pittsburgh, expect the offensive line to struggle to protect Eric Dungey on Friday.