ETHAN (6-0): Clemson 27, Syracuse 17
The Tigers frankly have way too much talent to lose this game. The Orange are dealing with a variety of injuries on the defensive side of the ball and especially if Garrett Williams does not play, I have a hard time seeing how they force turnovers against a Clemson offense that hasn’t turned the ball over much in the first place. Until Garrett Shrader throws the ball effectively on the road, I don’t trust him to make big throws in a setting like this. I think the Orange keep it close, but the talent on the other side is too overwhelming.
CAM (5-0): Clemson 31, Syracuse 20
This is where the dream of a College Football Playoff appearance comes to a screeching halt. It’s been a great ride but a buzzsaw awaits in Death Valley. The Tigers have won 37 straight games at home while the Orange are generally a much worse team outside of Central New York, as evident by allowing 32 points per game on the road last season. Now it’s understandable that you glance over the defense this year and say it’s not even close to comparable to this year’s squad, that leads the ACC in scoring defense. But news flash, they haven’t played in a raucous environment like Clemson yet. Although I think Sean Tucker has a good game and the defense halts the Tigers in the first half, quarterback Garrett Shrader hasn’t proven to me, outside of the Virginia Tech game last season, that he can lead an underdog to the promised land on the road. Give me a great game through two quarters but the inconsistencies of SU and Syracuse’s depleted defense to shine through in the second half.
FRANCESCO (1-0): Clemson 27, Syracuse 17
This is when the clock strikes midnight on Syracuse’s Cinderella season. The 6-0 Orange have already defied expectations, clinching a bowl appearance in the minimum number of games when many thought they wouldn’t make it at all. However, this is a step up in competition unlike this team has seen all year. This isn’t Wagner or UConn, it’s not Virginia or Louisville, it’s not even Purdue or Devin Leary-less NC State. The Tigers have a better athlete at virtually every position than the Orange do. Clemson’s offense led by DJ Uiangalelei and Will Shipley has taken off, thanks in part to the health of their offensive line throughout the season. Clemson had to start six different combinations up front over their first seven games last year, which coincided with a 4-3 start. It’s a different story this season. The defense hasn’t been the same without Brett Venables, but the talent is still there. Players like Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy, Xavier Thomas, KJ Henry, Tyler Davis and Trenton Simpson are locks to play at the next level. They’re bigger, stronger and faster than anyone SU has faced so far, which should let Clemson dictate the line of scrimmage. The Tigers are near the bottom of the ACC in pass defense, but besides Oronde Gadsden, Syracuse doesn’t have the athletes at receiver to win matchups and take advantage of that weakness. Not to mention, when Garrett Shrader is pressured, the happy feet return. The Orange will keep it close, but just will not score enough to keep up.
JOHN (4-1): Clemson 24, Syracuse 16
Syracuse does its usual Syracuse thing against Clemson. SU puts up a great fight but falls short in a tight battle. The Tigers have a 38-game home win streak behind their back and have really gotten their offense going in recent weeks. Defensively, Clemson is back to full strength along its d-line and the secondary has experience heading into this game. Give me the Tigers to outdoes the ‘Cuse in Death Valley.
CARTER (3-1): Clemson 33, Syracuse 20
SU has been on a magic carpet ride so far, but Death Valley is (probably) about to be the site of ‘Cuse’s first loss in 329 days. SU had a great chance to clip the Tigers last year but fell to Clemson’s wobbliest squad in years by a field goal inside the Dome. Dabo Swinney’s bunch remembered who they were over the offseason, and Clemson is back to its machine-like status at the top of the ACC. SU defensive coordinator Tony White’s unit is currently the conference’s best, but he faces a reinvigorated passer in Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei (17 TD, 2 INT) with his defense stunted by injury. On the other side of the ball, ‘Cuse’s ground game is set to face its biggest challenge all year against the ACC’s best run-stopping unit led by defensive tackle and NFL 1st-round prospect Myles Murphy. SU usually puts up a good fight against Clemson, so expect it to do so again with its best team in years – but the program’s first-ever win at Clemson might be too big an ask.
IAN (3-1) (EXEMPT FROM PREDICTION):
Syracuse is coming into what should be a raucous Memorial Stadium, and the Orange aren’t exactly playing with house money. Yes, they’re the underdog. Yes, no one expected them to be here. But after a 6-0 start, the goalposts have clearly shifted. This is now a team that should be on the fringes of a New Year’s Six bowl game, and hopefully competing with a top-caliber opponent like Clemson. There’s a little pressure on SU.
All things considered, the Orange are underdogs because Clemson is really good. DJ Uiagalelei is much improved after a dreadful 2021. The junior has thrown 19 TDs to just 2 picks, and has the second-most passing yards in the ACC. After missing the SU game last year, do-it-all RB Will Shipley is healthy this season for the Tigers, and he’s been a game changer. Shipley won ACC running back of the week after 238 all-purpose yards against FSU. However, once you get past those two, there aren’t a whole lot of standouts on the offense. Instead, it’s four receivers, two tight ends, and a backup RB who all have experience under their belt and do their jobs well.
Defensively, Syracuse HAS to avoid what many would consider a top-four D-Line in the country (Alabama, Georgia and Michigan could all stake claim in terms of production). No school has the pure talent that the Tigers have, with four five-stars anchoring their front, including 2020 #1 overall recruit Bryan Bresee. Runs must bounce off tackle, attack the edges and work off of double teams. No SU offensive lineman will consistently win 1-on-1 matchups. If Garrett Shrader can create time to throw, the Orange just might have a chance. Clemson’s passing defense is third-worst in the ACC.
LIAM (4-2): Clemson 34, Syracuse 28
What a game we have in store. The noon slot on ABC is more than deserved. It’s the first matchup in Death Valley with two undefeated teams that have six or more wins squaring off. We are in for a treat on Saturday.
The game is full of NFL talent, even with Garrett Williams’ status up in the air. Sean Tucker. Myles Murphy. Bryan Bresee. Duce Chestnut. Matthew Bergeron. Trenton Simpson. That’s just scratching the surface.
The line of 13-and-a-half feels disrespectful to an Orange team that is 6-0. If the SU defense plays at the level It played at against the Wolfpack (and really all season), it should have no problem covering that spread. But winning? Well, it’s been a Cinderella season for SU fans this year, but the thing with Cinderella seasons is that the clock tends to strike midnight. That doesn’t necessarily mean a loss is an end all be all, just the end of the winning streak. Memorial Stadium is simply too tough a place to play with too tough a team for the Orange to bump up to 7-0.