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What’s at Stake when Syracuse takes on Clemson?

No. 14 Syracuse heads to No. 5 Clemson hoping to break a 37-game Tiger home winning streak. Dabo Swinney’s team has been excellent in Death Valley over the past few years, and this year is no different. The Tigers are holding opponents to just 12 points per game at home. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is completing 68% of his passes on his turf.

It’s no secret Clemson is an overwhelming favorite. Syracuse has never won in Memorial Stadium. Most sports books have SU as a two-touchdown underdog, which stands to reason that their modeling systems expect the Orange to struggle to keep the game close. Many experts, analysts and writers have Clemson winning by a larger margin (you’ll get the Fizz staff’s predictions tomorrow).

However, none of that matters when Syracuse and Clemson step on the field at noon. The winner of this matchup takes the top spot in the ACC Atlantic. A win moves SU into the top 10, and squashes all the doubters. The Orange would be a virtual lock for a New Year’s Six bowl, unless something were to really go sideways down the stretch of the season. A loss, well, is just a loss. It’s Clemson, right? The same Clemson team that hasn’t lost at home since 2016. The pressure is really on the Tigers, who have to win (and win convincingly) to stay in the top five with Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee all standing strong and ‘Bama creeping behind. A shaky performance from Uiagalelei or a bad defensive day will lead critics to question their potential.

How does Syracuse pull the upset? Two ways, which we just mentioned. The first thing SU has to do is cause problems for Clemson’s offense. The Orange won’t out-physical the Tigers, but outworking and out-scheming first-year coordinator Brandon Streeter’s offense is possible. Streeter said earlier in the week the SU D is great at befuddling opposing teams.

They try to confuse you – they do a lot of different fronts, different blitzes and coverages. They’re relentless to the ball.

Brandon Streeter, Oct. 17 Press Conference

It’s going to take a lot to confuse DJ U, but locking up Clemson’s receivers should be a great start. If the Tigers are forced to rely on the run game, SU could have a shot.

The other point, attacking the Clemson secondary, will be tough as well. The Tigers are third-worst in the ACC in pass yards allowed per game, but their D-Line has the potential to wreck havoc against the SU front. Garrett Shrader throwing on the run will be key if Syracuse is to pull the upset.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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