A quick take on Syracuse’s 16-6 loss against Clemson in front of 80,031 inside Death Valley:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse took a 6-3 lead into halftime, and mostly kept pace with Clemson in an ugly defensive slugfest that featured only one touchdown. But Syracuse just couldn’t come up with enough offense against the 19th ranked defense in the country on the road. Cole Stoudt’s 19-yard strike to Stanton Seckinger on a wheel route with 14:28 left in the fourth quarter gave Clemson a 16-6 lead, and control of the game. SU’s final gasp, a 42-yard attempt from Cole Murphy (who had previously nailed a 50-yarder to give SU the lead at half) with eight minutes left sailed wide right, and the Orange’s upset bid fell short.
ANALYSIS: The Orange will once again be left wondering ‘what if?’ Clemson committed four turnovers, but the Orange could only create six points off the miscues. The best opportunity came when Stoudt airmailed a tailor-made interception to Darius Kelly in the third quarter, and he returned it to the Clemson 42. At the time, SU had a 6-3 lead and momentum on its side. But on the ensuing play, AJ Long gave it right back, throwing one of his two interceptions of the night. At this point in the year, moral victories aren’t enough, and the margin to a bowl game just got that much thinner.
HERO: As mentioned before, this was a game dominated by defense. Syracuse only gained 170 yards on the night and constantly found itself in third and long situations. SU converted just 3 of 16 on third down. SU’s defense wasn’t shabby either in holding the Tigers to 355 yards and 16 points. But the defense understandably looked tired late in the second half as Clemson held the ball for nearly 35 minutes.
ZERO: Long, who had impressed in his first two collegiate appearances, struggled mightily against the stout Tiger defense. He completed just 12 of 27 for 82 yards and two INTs. It didn’t help that Long was sacked five times on the night. To put that number in perspective, SU had only allowed six sacks the entire season.
WHAT’S NEXT: SU returns home to face North Carolina State on Sat. Nov. 1 at 3 p.m.