Syracuse vs Clemson

The ACC gives us a top-15 matchup this week when the no. 14 Syracuse Orange visit the no. 5 Clemson Tigers. While the Tigers have won all but one game between these teams since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013, five of the last eight games in this series have been decided by 10 points or less. That’s worth noting with Clemson favored by 13.5 points at home and the over/under set at 49.5 points.

Both teams enter this game among the nine remaining unbeaten teams in the country with Syracuse being the most surprising of the bunch. Just two years after a one-win campaign, Syracuse has scored wins over Louisville, Purdue, Virginia, and NC State. The Orange is already bowl-eligible and could be in the ACC title race with a win this week.

Of course, the Tigers are 7-0 and once again looking like a College Football Playoff contender. Dabo Swinney’s team has already beaten two ranked teams this year in Wake Forest and NC State. However, three of their five ACC wins have come by 10 points or less.

Play the Hits

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has taken a big step forward in his second season as the starting quarterback. He’s thrown just two interceptions in seven games to go along with 17 touchdown passes while completing 64% of his passes, a huge improvement from last year when he completed 56% of his passes and had more interceptions than touchdowns. The Tigers also have a potent rushing attack behind Will Shipley, who is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has eight rushing touchdowns for a Clemson offense averaging 38.6 points per game.

Meanwhile, the Clemson defense remains rock solid despite losing defensive coordinator Brett Venables during the offseason. But while the Tigers are giving up just 19.7 points per game, those numbers are a little skewed by some blowout wins over lesser teams. The Tigers have allowed at least 20 points in four of their last five games, including a 51-45 win over Wake Forest.

Orange Out

Syracuse has been led this season by a defense that’s conceding just 13.2 points per game, ranking sixth nationally. Much like Clemson, that number might not be as good as it seems. However, the Syracuse defense has held all but one opponent to 20 points or less while keeping two ACC teams under 10 points.

The Orange also has a quarterback that’s made huge strides from last season. Garrett Shrader completed just 53% of his passes with nine touchdown passes all of last season but already has 12 touchdown passes and a completion percentage near 70% this year. Shrader is also a talented runner who helps to complement Sean Tucker, who gains 5.2 yards per carry and rushed for nearly 1,500 yards during Syracuse’s 5-7 campaign last year.

Keeping It Close

With six wins under their belt, it’d be foolish to overlook Syracuse, even against a national power like Clemson. This hasn’t been a season of blowout wins for the Tigers, making 13.5 points a lot to cover. Bet on the Orange to beat the spread in this game, once again causing problems for Swinney’s Tigers.

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