Clemson Tigers vs. Syracuse Orange
Date and Time: Friday, October 13, 2017, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Opening College Football Odds: Clemson -21
Clemson vs. Syracuse TV Coverage: ESPN
The book on Clemson this year has been an easy one to read. Bet on the team when it's playing against ridiculously outmanned teams (Kent State) and against teams that might have a puncher's chance against it (Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech) and fade it against middling teams in the ACC (Boston College and Wake Forest).
That said, this is the first time this season that Clemson is going to get the chance to play back-to-back games that should certainly end up being wins. The Tigers' two games against average ACC foes have both come off of road wins against teams ranked in the Top 15 in America. This game comes off of a 28-14 drab triumph over Wake Forest.
It's hard to prepare for this Syracuse team. Dino Babers' crew is averaging 85.8 offensive plays per game, making it one of the fastest-paced teams in America. The Orange have covered their last three games after failing to beat the number against Central Connecticut and inexplicably losing to Middle Tennessee SU in the first two weeks of the year.
Matchup to Watch
If the Tigers are going to get the job done in this game, they're going to have to figure out how to slow down Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips.
Ishmael is one of the top receivers in the country, catching 56 passes for 729 yards and three touchdowns in his six games this year. Philips has slightly more modest numbers with 475 yards and two scores, but he is also averaging catching 8.67 passes per game.
Clemson has seen plenty of spread this year, but it hasn't seen a quarterback quite like Eric Dungey. Sure, Lamar Jackson has that intangible of being able to run with the ball and throw it from inside or outside of the pocket, but Dungey is far more polished of a passer than the defending Heisman Trophy winner.
The Tigers have some true studs in their secondary. Ryan Carter is one of the top corners in the ACC, and Van Smith and Tanner Muse are both having great seasons at the safety spots. They'll be the ones tested the most in this game, as will a trio of freshmen who will figure to have to be on the field at corner when the Orange spread things out.
If Dungey's completion percentage remains high, particularly when he targets his two top wide outs, the Orange are going to certainly be live underdogs.
Clemson vs. Syracuse Free Picks
It might be hard to get ready to play against this Syracuse team on a short week, but you can't simulate Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant coming at you on each and every play. The Clemson defensive line might be the best in the country this season, and that includes Alabama.
The Orange try to take as much onus as they can off of their offensive line by getting the ball out of Dungey's hands as quickly as possible. In this game, though, it's going to be the offense that wears down from the beating that the Clemson defensive line is going to lay.
Clemson is going to be a tough team to ready with Kelly Bryant likely out of this game with an ankle injury. That said, we have a slew of confidence in freshman Hunter Johnson if he's forced to take over.
Last season when these two teams met, Clemson walked out of Death Valley as 54-0 winners. The final score won't be quite that emphatic this time around, but we suspect this isn't going to be much of a contest in the end.
College Football ATS Pick: Clemson -21 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Clemson 45, Syracuse 13