No. 2 Clemson Tigers (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Syracuse Orange (3-3 SU, 3-2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Friday October 13th, 2017. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Carrier Dome Syracuse, N.Y.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -21.5/SYR +21.5
Over/Under Total: 56.5
The 2nd ranked Clemson Tigers improved to 6-0 last week with a 28-14 victory over Wake Forest. For the first time this season, Clemson did not play well. The Tigers turned the ball over and were not effective offensively. Of course after so many impressive outings to start the season, Clemson was due for a setback and they are still undefeated which is most important. This week the Tigers look to rebound on the national stage as they go into the Carrier Dome for a showdown with Syracuse on Friday night.
The Orange snapped a two game losing skid with a 27-24 victory over Pittsburgh last week to move to 3-3 SU and 3-2-1 against the number. Last weeks victory over Pittsburgh marked Syracuses first win over the Panthers in 5 years and hopes to ignite a spark towards the 2nd half of the season. This week Syracuse gets an opportunity to end another streak. The Tigers have won the last 4 meetings in the last 4 years over Syracuse. In fact, the Oranges only victory over Clemson came back in 1996 in the Gator Bowl and they would love to renew that memory this Friday.
For that to happen, Syracuse is going to need another bad offensive showing from Clemson. So far this season, the Orange defense has been unreliable yielding 24.3 points per game. While those numbers do not sound scary, consider the fact that Syracuse has only faced one offense that ranks in the Top 50 in the FBS. In that game, Syracuse gave up 33 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense to NC State in a 33-25 loss. Therefore, my concerns for this Fridays game surround this Syracuse defense which has been largely untested this season against premier talent.
Despite the sluggish output last week, Clemson is still one of the more talented offenses in college football. On paper, Clemson ranks 25th in total offense and has averaged 34.3 points per game. Unlike Syracuse, they have been battled tested repeatedly against top 25 defenses from Auburn, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and a notable consideration to Louisville which is not far outside the top 25. So I feel like if we just look at numbers on paper, I feel like we will get a false sense of encouragement from Syracuse.
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However if we look at matchups, Syracuse does have some plus side advantages. I have said for weeks that Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant struggles with passes down the field and it showed against last week against Wake Forest. Bryant is most dangerous as a rusher and that can be said for the entire Clemson offense. Running backs Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster have combined for 700 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per touch. Meanwhile, Bryan has only tossed 4 touchdowns and has 4 picks to match. I still think public perception is that Clemsons offense is the same unstoppable force that upset Alabama in the National Championship Game yet that is simply not the case.
The battle on the other side of the ball will be equally important. Despite the public perception that Clemsons offense is better than they truly are, the opposite can be said about the Tigers defense. I think Clemson has the best defense in the FBS. Perhaps Michigan can make the argument but the Tigers have shut down some of the best offenses in college football. The defensive line is disruptive and that does not bode well for Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey has been solid thus year statistically but this will be a different type of challenge. From an ability standpoint, I believe Dungey can be efficient especially with talented receivers Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips to target. Ishmael is a difference maker. If Syracuse can get time to throw, they can frustrate this Clemson defense but that is a big if surrounding time to throw.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a tricky matchup. I feel like Clemson will score but I also expect Syracuse to move the football. If they can get touchdowns instead of field goals, I like Syracuse +21.5. Did you know that you can bet this game and ALL football/basketball games at -105 odds instead of -110? Imagine all the cash you’d save over the long haul by wagering at reduced odds! Find this sweet offer at 5Dimes!