Syracuse Orange v. Clemson Tigers Prediction & Preview (10/15/21)

Syracuse Orange cornerback Christopher Fredrick
Sept. 14 2019; Syracuse NY, USA; Syracuse Orange cornerback Christopher Fredrick (3) returns an interception during a 41-6 loss to the Clemson Tigers at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse v. Clemson (10/15/21) Game Information:

    • Teams: Syracuse (3-3) v. Clemson (3-2)
    • Date: Friday, October 15
    • Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
    • Venue: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
    • Network: ESPN
    • Spread: Clemson -14
    • History: The two teams met last Oct. 24, with the Tigers winning 47-21 in Death Valley. The Orange was originally a 45-point underdog, and came back from 17-0 down to draw within a touchdown late in the third quarter before Clemson put the game away in the fourth quarter. Rex Culpepper threw three interceptions in the loss, as he compelted just 10 of his 26 passes for 175 yards. The two teams have met nine times in their history, with the Tigers currently owning a 7-2 record.
    • In Syracuse’s last game: The Orange jumped out to an early 14-3 lead against No. 19 Wake Forest, but the Demon Deacons rallied and took a 34-27 lead with 3:28 to go after Christian Beal-Smith’s 10-yard run capped an 11 play, 73 yard drive. Though Syracuse forced overtime, Wake Forest won on a 22 yard pass from Sam Hartman to end SU’s upset bid.
    • In Clemson’s last game: With Clemson clinging to a 19-13 lead with under a minute to go, BC quarterback Dennis Grosel fumbled away the snap with 47 seconds left. The Tigers extended their 31st straight home game despite a suddenly anemic offense with a middling passing game. D.J. Uiagalelei completed just 13 of 28 for 207 yards and zero touchdowns, the third time this season that Clemson has not thrown for a touchdown.

jimJim Stechschulte
Fearless Prediction: Clemson 23, Syracuse 20

While they have slid to the fringes of the top 25 polls, Clemson returns to action after their bye week, bringing their name-brand pedigree and talented roster to Syracuse on Friday night. The Orange have had a penchant for being in tight games this season and are looking to get back into the win column after dropping their last two conference matchups.

In those two games, the SU ground attack has evolved into a strong two-man operation with quarterback Garrett Shrader and running back Sean Tucker operating an RPO-based scheme. Tucker has run for over 100 yards in a game five times this season, going for 153 in the last Orange game, while Shrader has logged 315 yards on the ground in his last two. That ground-based attack keys the Syracuse offense the full length of the field, as all 14 red zone touchdowns the Orange have tallied have come via the run.

The Clemson defense has not been the team’s primary issue this season, holding opponents to 4.2 yards a play, including 3.5 yards a carry (sacks removed), and being very tough in the red zone. The Tigers have permitted their opposition just four red zone touchdowns in 16 chances with just one coming on the ground.

» Related: Former Syracuse tight end says Orange has ‘plateaued’ under Dino Babers

The reverse side of the Clemson coin is their offense, which has struggled all season, being outscored by FBS foes, 58-57, and failing to top 21 points in a game. That Tiger offense, however, has shown recent signs of life, reaching a season-high 6.4 yards per play in their 19-13 win over Boston College two weeks ago, led by Kobe Pace gaining 125 yards on 18 carries.

Despite being sacked just three times in the last three games, D.J. Uiagalelei has struggled as a passer, completing under 55 percent of his passes for less than 150 yards per game in that time. Justyn Ross and Joseph Ngata have been his top targets, combining for 40 receptions on the season, nearly half of Clemson’s output.

Syracuse has generally played well against the run, allowing just two opponents to average four yards a carry and holding Wake Forest to 3.3 yards a carry (sacks removed) last week. While the Orange red-zone defense has allowed 19 scores in 23 chances, nine of those have been field goals.

As a result, it should be a tight contest, but Clemson’s talent should help them emerge with the victory.

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About Jim Stechschulte 750 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.