John (5-1): Clemson 24, Syracuse 20
This year’s version of Clemson has certainly underachieved thus far. However, the Tigers benefit from a very timely bye week and are still loaded with talent. Both offenses will be challenged by some excellent defensive units. Clemson’s group ranks first in the ACC while Syracuse isn’t too far behind in the top four. First team to ten will win this game and I think the Tigers prevail and make it three consecutive one possession losses for the Orange. This is 100% a game that ‘Cuse is capable of winning though.
Ian (4-2): Clemson 21, Syracuse 17
Carter (4-2): Syracuse 20, Clemson 14
Now that we’re at the midseason point, it’s time to recalibrate our perception of Syracuse football. This squad isn’t like the listless 2019-20 renditions that couldn’t score or pass block. The Orange are much improved in those areas behind the dynamic combo of Sean Tucker and Garrett Shrader. With a functioning offense, Syracuse can show they can hang with anyone after taking an explosive Wake Forest team to overtime last week. Provided Dino Babers can get out of his own way, SU can still surprise better teams this year.
On the other hand, Clemson has done anything but surprise. New starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei has struggled badly after a few dynamite relief appearances last year, and the Clemson offense has plummeted to 112th in the FBS in scoring. The Tigers can’t throw the ball, and it’s clear they miss now-Jacksonville Jaguar Travis Etienne on the ground. That’s a bad recipe against a Syracuse defense likely looking to get some pride back after back-to-back rough outings. I can see Clemson not getting enough out of its offense this Friday, while its admittedly tough defense gives up just a little too much against ‘Cuse’s red-hot ground game. Give me Syracuse this Friday in a tough, gritty defensive game.
Matt (4-2): Syracuse 17, Clemson 14
This game comes down to Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut. All year long, defenses have played Clemson well by shutting down their only two WRs, Justyn Ross and Joseph Ngata, and forcing the Tigers to rely on their weak rush attack. Will Shipley, Clemson’s #1 back is out for Friday’s game, making SU’s job even easier. Obviously, the Orange have to score points as well, and they will. Sean Tucker leads the country in all-purpose yards for a reason. If Garrett Shrader can get his legs moving and Tucker can break off a few big ones, Syracuse will score some points. Clemson hasn’t scored more than 19 in regulation against D1 opponents this year, the spread against Syracuse is -13.5. Math doesn’t really add up there. Have some faith in the Orange this week.
Cam (3-3): Syracuse 25, Clemson 24
This one is probably the toughest of the bunch to pick. Clemson looks subpar, but has a boatload of talent. The Tigers also struggle to score. Syracuse looks good, but struggles to close out games. The Orange have had no problem scoring (but also not much of an issue letting ACC teams score on them). I think it’s a toss up and no deep dive into analytics can separate a pair of teams that aren’t really doing anything special.
Here’s my hunch: A 3-3 Syracuse team entered the Dome four years ago and beat Clemson. This group is also 3-3 and will enter the Dome with that same ferocity, and ultimately duplicate 2017 with a “Freaky Friday” finish.
Jaron (3-3): Clemson 24, Syracuse 17
Let’s just toss this out there to start – Clemson is not the normal Clemson we are used to seeing this season. The Tigers aren’t as dominant and absolutely have cracks in their armour. Their offense is majorly underachieving behind DJ Uiagalelei. He’s been fine, but that’s all. Plus, losing Travis Etienne in the backfield has ruined Clemson’s ground attack. Besides a blowout win over an FCS opponent, the Tigers are just averaging 11.4 points per game. Defensively, they are still really good. Really good to the tune of second best in the country. So, expect a defensive battle and a low scoring game on Friday. With that being said, Syracuse has a chance and I do think the Orange will keep it interesting, but in good conscience I still cannot pick against Dabo Swinney and Clemson.
Brad (3-3): Syracuse 27, Clemson 24
The first ACC win is bound to come eventually. After two narrow losses, why not against Clemson? It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The Tigers have the worst offense in the ACC, scoring just 20 points per game. That might be exactly what the Orange defense needs after two rough weeks in ACC play when the stars in the secondary beginning to look mortal. The SU offense took a big jump up in the past couple of games. Garrett Shrader and Sean Tucker are proving to be one of the best running duos in the nation. Then again, they haven’t been tested against a defense as good as this one. Clemson only allows 11.5 points per game, best in the ACC. So, it’s strength on strength. But since Syracuse is home then they have the slight advantage.