The Tigers have played a few Atlantic Coastal Conference opponents this season so far and one would think that they would’ve blown them out like their “big brother” Alabama but they had a few close games that they squeaked out wins in.
Their only big blowout was during their first game of the season at Kent State. They demolished them 56-3. However, their last three games were nothing short of nail biters until the end of the third quarter heading into the fourth quarter.
The Boston College game was a head scratcher. Although they won 34-7, they didn’t really play Clemson football until the fourth quarter where they scored 27 straight points.
This week, they meet up with a 3-3 opponent and with their starting quarterback Kelly Bryant, under center and “ready to roll,” according to coach Dabo Swinney.
Though Syracuse’s offense has seen an upswing since the arrival of coach Dino Babers’, but has not had the success it had hoped to achieve early in his second season. The Orange are ranked No. 72 in the CBS Sports 130 and held tough in losses at LSU (35-26) and at NC State (33-25). They are also coming off a 27-24 win over Pittsburgh just last week.
The last time the Tigers and Orange met quarterback Eric Dungey was knocked out of that game in the first quarter after a hit to the helmet and missed the rest of the season. With an inexperienced passer in backfield Clemson stepped over the Orange in a 54-0 beatdown as they headed to the way to a national championship.
This season, Dungey is healthy again, and he and his offense are ready to put on a show against the second-ranked Tigers on Friday night.
“I’m looking forward to having Clemson come into the dome,” Dungey said. “It’s not much fun watching from the sidelines. I’m happy with the team and the confidence the team has been getting.”
Dungey isn’t the only one ready for the matchup. Head coach Dabo Swinney had a few words to say about his next opponent.
“They’re very capable of beating us, no question about it,” Swinney said. “They’re a much improved football team from last year. We just jumped on them last year and got up. Their quarterback got hurt, and the game got away pretty quickly, but we expect a hard-fought, four-quarter battle going up there.”
The odds are in favor of the Tigers though. Clemson is on an 11-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation, and they’ve won a school record 12 straight on an opponent’s home field. They’re also 4-0 against the Orange, since Syracuse joined the ACC.
How the Orange Win
The Orange are going to have to rely heavily on their offense if they want a chance to win this football game. Steve Ishmael has 56 catches for 729 yards to lead the nation in both categories. On the other side of the field, wide receiver Ervin Philips has hauled in 52 balls for 475 yards, and Dungey has thrown for nine touchdowns and rushed for eight more.
On the other side of the ball, Syracuse is ranked sixth nationally and third in the ACC in third-down conversion percentage defense (24.7), and it’s tied for third nationally in defensive three-and-outs, averaging 6.5 per game.
When the Tigers need a first down on third down, the Orange will need to shut down Hunter Renfrow. He has a team-high 29 catches this season and 10 of those were on third-downs that went for first downs.
How Clemson Will Win
Not only will Hunter Renfrow be a big factor but Clemson’s defense as well. They’re ranked eighth nationally in total defense and have limited opponents to an average of 264.3 yards per game.
On top of that, the Tigers have given up just eight touchdowns all season and no team has scored more than seven points against them through three periods.
The two teams go head to head on Friday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.