Vegas loves the Tigers this week for the same circumstances that often lead to upsets: unrest at the quarterback position. The Over/Under is 64 and Clemson is favored by 25.5 points according to Oddshark, but Clemson’s fans aren’t expecting a blowout.
Freshman phenomenon Trevor Lawrence earned the start over incumbent Kelly Bryant (for the week), and just thirty days after explaining why he didn’t transfer, Kelly Bryant transferred. While the loss of Bryant hurts Clemson, the Tigers have no choice but to forge ahead one game at a time.
This is the best edition of Syracuse since Dino Babers took over as head coach, and this is one of the few times in history both teams in Death Valley are 4-0. Syracuse beat Clemson last year, and they are certainly capable of winning this year.
Although the offense is prolific, the real stars of this team are head coach Dino Babers and his triggerman Eric Dungey – the quarterback who beat Clemson just a year ago. Dungey is one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC who is experienced and fearless.
Clemson has depth, but the defense is thinnest in the secondary. That is a factor that the Orange could exploit by the design of their offense, especially since cornerback Mark Fields is not playing (along with Cornell Powell, WR).
Syracuse’s offense requires physical play from the secondary when they aren’t making them run up and down the field for sixty minutes with their “lightning tempo”. To make matters worse, their wide alignment of wide receivers forces Clemson to cover the whole field in both phases of the game. Think of it like this: as stressful as Georgia Tech but at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. If Clemson commits mental errors like they did in the Texas A&M game – it won’t matter what the defensive line does and the game will become a shootout.
Syracuse’s new 4-2-5 defense is designed to stop the modern ‘spread’ offense (cliché term) – but the question is do they have the personnel to stop Clemson’s star studded offense? They are better than they were last year defending the pass so far – but that’s not saying much. Despite the unfortunate turn of events, this is a good situation for Trevor Lawrence to start in: at home against a struggling pass defense.
More than other games this year, Clemson needs to pay extra attention to being mentally focused and blocking out this week’s distractions. How well they stay the course will determine how the game will go. This should be a high scoring game, that Clemson pulls away late in the game.
Prediction: Clemson 59 Syracuse 31