FRANCESCO (3-0) (EXEMPT FROM PREDICTION):
To put it simply, this is one of the biggest games this program has had in the last decade. It’s not quite as big as last year’s matchup with Clemson, but this year’s serves as a springboard: either to national relevance or another battle for attention. A win over Clemson almost certainly puts Syracuse in the rankings and sets up two massive show downs on the road against North Carolina and Florida State. Don’t let the 2-2 record fool you. Clemson is still extremely talented, almost beating FSU last week. Expect this to be a battle that’s decided well into the fourth, or perhaps even later.
LIAM (3-0): Syracuse 27, Clemson 24
It’s time to go big or go home. Yes, Clemson has the significantly more talented roster. Yes, the Tigers were a top-10 team in week 1 before getting blasted by Duke. Yes, Syracuse hasn’t beaten Clemson since 2017. But to that I say, why the heck not? The Tigers have looked uncomfortable and performed at an inconsistent level offensively. On the flip side, the Orange defense looks legit. If there’s one thing that could cost SU this game, it’s coming out of the gate slowly. That’s been an issue all season. But, as long as things don’t spiral out of control early and the should-be packed Dome crowd stays engaged for all 60 minutes, there’s no reason Syracuse can’t win this game. Give me the Orange to win (and I’d be ok with a field-storming this time).
TYLER (2-0): Syracuse 27, Clemson 23
This is the year the Orange finally breaks through again. As someone who was in the Dome when SU upset Clemson in 2017, that win took a miracle. If Syracuse is victorious this time around, it won’t be because of divine intervention – it will be because the Orange are a better team.
Offense shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the ‘Cuse. Clemson allowed two touchdowns apiece to Charleston Southern and Florida Atlantic. I’m confident Garrett Shrader and company can beat that.
The real challenge comes on defense. SU ranks first in the entire country in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score less than half the time they get inside the Orange’s 20-yard line. But Syracuse hasn’t faced a team in the same stratosphere as Clemson. Tigers running back Will Shipley tallies 117 all purpose yards per game. He could wreak havoc on Syracuse. However, SU’s defense showed it could adjust to stop the run against Army. While that task is much, much more difficult against Dabo Swinney’s squad, it’s not impossible. This is Syracuse’s best defense in over a decade, and this game will prove that.
ADAM (3-1): Clemson 38, Syracuse 10
Clemson is hungry for blood after last week’s tight loss to Florida State. Will Shipley will run all over the SU defense and Cade Klubnik has his best game of the year. Offensively the Orange just can’t piece together enough big plays to drive down the field. The receivers won’t be able to create separation and the Clemson D-line will keep Shrader contained in the run game.
ETHAN (2-1): Clemson 23, Syracuse 20
This will be a close game, but I do not have enough evidence that Syracuse has the talent up front to block Clemson’s defensive line, or establish a consistent enough offensive attack against the Tigers defense to put up enough points to win the game. The Orange defense will be ready to play and keep SU in the game, but the combination of an inexperienced wide receiving core and offensive line, on top of an inferior game management and discipline from the Syracuse coaching staff will prevent the Orange from starting 5-0. It just isn’t meant to be.