Clemson -28 @ Syracuse O/U 62.5
This game has been hyped up since spring football, with Clemson the defending National Champions and Syracuse continuing to get stronger, we were talking upset potential. The Orange almost pulled off the upset last season and in 2017 did beat the Tigers. There haven't been many teams that have figured out Clemson but Dino Babers and his staff have seemed to figure it out. But.... let's pump the brakes just a minute! Clemson is still favored by 4 touchdowns and did we not just witness Maryland take Syracuse to the shed last week? I am not saying the upset won't happen, but we need to calm down a minute and really look at what each team brings to the game.
The Tigers are coming off of a tough win against the Texas A&M Aggies 24-10, although they had control of the game from the beginning. The story all off season was Trevor Lawrence and his run for another title and the Heisman, however the season hasn't gone exactly as expected for the sophomore QB. Lawrence is still a dynamic QB, but only has 436 yard with 2 touchdowns to his 3 interception through two games. Luckily for the Tigers, they still have Travis Etienne at running back, averaging 9.2 yards a carry and has 3 touchdowns and a ridiculous defense giving up only 12 points per game.
After last week, there are clearly some holes in the Orange defense and the weapons all at every skill position for Clemson will look to exploit them. I expect Clemson to have a balanced attack, run the ball and use playaction and RPOs to open up throwing lanes for Lawrence to find his receivers one on one. Protect the ball and play Clemson football and you leave the Carrier dome with a victory.
As we mentioned Syracuse has seemed to figured out how to hang with Clemson. The big question is, which team are we going to get? Are we going to see the team everyone was hyped for, the 9+ win Orange that were picked by many to upset the Tigers again, or whatever it was we saw last week. While the defense clearly was terrible, giving up 63 points, the offense had a couple bright spots. Tommy Devito completed 71% of his passes for 330 and 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. Trishton Jackson caught 7 balls for 157 yard and 2 touchdowns and 3 other WR/RBs had 5 or more catches. However, the running game struggled, failing to get 100 yards and Clemson won't make it easier.
So how does Syracuse pull off the upset? Let's clear one thing up, I never expectrd Syracuse to win this game, and actually bet the under for win total once it hit 9. But this is college football and anything can happen! Syracuse can pull it off if they can get the ground game going early. If Clemson is rushing 4 and stopping the run, they have no chance when they are down and need to pass, if Clemson drops 7 or 8 guys. Defensively is a bit more difficult. Control Etienne? Good luck! Let's keep it simple, confuse Trevor Lawrence. Disguise blitz packages and coverage. We have seen this year when teams give him different looks and change the look before the snap he can get flustered. When he drops back to pass, especially on third down, use stunts and don't forget he is an athlete and will take off to extend the drive.
How Will the Game Play Out?
The Gameday crew was hoping they would be on their way to Syracuse this week for the match up and we would be talking about a #1 vs a Top 20 team that has proven to be a tough test for Clemson. Now, this is Clemson against another unranked team that gave up 60+ to Maryland. I expect the first quarter to be close, the Carrier Dome will be rocking... "Who's House?" ... Then the wheels will start to fall off. Clemson will smack Syracuse in the mouth and the Orange won't have an answer. I don't prediction anything like last week when they lost 63-20, but Clemson will win handily. I will likely be on the sideline for this one, but if I had to pick, I think Clemson is up more than 28 in the fourth and Syracuse scores late with a backdoor cover 49-24. Cuse +28 & the over.