Clemson doesn’t know if it will have its starting quarterback for this Game on Friday night, but that probably won’t matter for the end result against Syracuse. The Tigers are a -22.5 point road favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
While new quarterback Kelly Bryant is listed as day-to-day for this Game, Deshaun Watson only made it one half against Syracuse in last year’s meeting, yet Clemson still won 54-0. The Tigers did whatever they wanted in every facet, but 370 passing yards and Four touchdowns between Watson and backup Nick SChuessler led the way. The Orange may be better than a year ago, but scoring on this Clemson defense will take a lot of work.
‘Cuse quarterback Eric Dungey hasn’t been much better passing the ball for Syracuse this season, but he’s been much better rushing the ball, already with 325 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, both totals surpassing what he had all of last year. He also has nine passing touchdowns, but seven of them came in the three Syracuse wins. In the losses, Dungey has been worse. And going against what is probably the best defensive line in the country, Dungey may not find the usual room on the ground and if that’s the case, Syracuse may struggle to reach double digits. It doesn’t help that running back Dontae Strickland only averages 2.9 yards per carry.
On the other end of things, Syracuse has battled with the likes of LSU and NC State, but of course, neither is at the same level as Clemson.
The big worry is Bryant, but considering he has just Four passing TDs and Four INTs this year, his absence shouldn’t hurt the offense too much against a bad defense. Then again, backup QB Zerrick Cooper came in against Wake Forest and didn’t do a whole lot. At the least, Dabo Swinney expects Bryant to play with a bum ankle, so that’s a good enough sign. But for a running back that leads the Tigers with 401 rushing yards to have a bad ankle, things may not be as easy as usual for this offense. They’ll likely try and lean on running backs Travis Etienne (8.2 yards per carry) and Tavien Feaster (5.6 ypc) more if Bryant is in the Game.
So far, the Orange haven’t stopped many offenses, allowing at least 24 points in each of the last three Games and also 30 to Middle Tennessee in an early home loss. If Bryant doesn’t play, Clemson should still see plenty of betting money as their defense should dominate again, while the offense should move the ball enough to drop at least 30 points.
However, with this being a Friday night Game on national television, Syracuse should draw plenty of money as a home underdog. The Orange have covered in their last Four vs. a team with a winning record, but are just 1-4-1 ATS in their last six home Games. The Tigers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight overall.
Our Pick – Clem/Cuse UNDER 56