This may be the most interesting matchup of the weekend even though the spread doesn’t tell the story. Both teams are undefeated and when they met a year ago, it was the improbable upset by Syracuse as a 24-point underdog. This time, on the road, the Orange are underdogs by a few less points. Still, Clemson was a huge -22.5 point favorite early in the week at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
While this Game is at home for Clemson, the spread feels a bit high considering it only covered its first Game of the season last weekend against Georgia Tech. When these teams met a year ago, it wasn’t a fluke as Syracuse outgained Clemson 440 to 317. The Orange played an all around great Game led by quarterback Eric Dungey, who also kept things going on the ground.
Clemson has a vaunted defense, but it’s already had trouble keeping teams in check like Georgia Tech for 21 points and Texas A&M for 26 points. It can be argued that Syracuse has just as good of offense if not better than those teams. Dungey does a little bit of everything with nine passing touchdowns and only one pick, as well as leading the team with 354 rushing yards and Four more touchdowns. He hasn’t exactly played a great defense yet, but beating Florida State 30-7 is no small feat.
If the Orange want to cover they’ll need to repeat what they did last year and keep the chains moving. If they can find room bit by bit between Dungey and running back Moe Neal, that’ll in turn keep Clemson off the field. If not, the Tigers shouldn’t have any trouble scoring on this Syracuse defense. Even last year, the Tigers moved the ball enough, the problem was that they ran 26 less plays. It also can’t be forgotten that Kelly Bryant suffered a concussion at the end of the first half of last year’s meeting and Zerrick Cooper had to take over.
This time around, Clemson has a more experienced Bryant to go with freshman Trevor LAwrence, who has a much better arm and is averaging 1.5 more yards per attempt to go with seven more passing touchdowns. Because of LAwrence’s arm, Clemson’s been able to run a little more effectively with Travis Etienne, who is at 8.5 yards per carry and five touchdowns. Syracuse has a great offense, but the defense is still a mystery after it allowed 42 points to Western Michigan in the opener. Sure, the Orange stopped FSU to seven points, but that was in the middle of hurricane weather.
There’s a chance Clemson runs up to 40-plus points with ease. The only way that doesn’t happen is if Syracuse can keep the ball and control time of possession. That should be possible because of Dungey, but expecting another upset on the road is a stretch. Then again, even if Clemson reaches 40 or so points, there’s no denying Syracuse has the explosiveness to Score20 or more itself, which would be enough for the cover.
The Orange are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road Games and 7-3 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Tigers are just 1-4 ATS in their last five overall, but 3-1-1 ATS in their last five in Conference play. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these schools, as well as 13-2-1 in Syracuse’s last 16 in the ACC.
Our Pick – Syracuse +22.5