Empire State Of PrimeTime

Campus Clash

(1) Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange

Clemson: Saturday was as complete of a win as it gets. Offensively, they were able to establish Travis Etienne on the ground, Trevor Lawrence was Trevor Lawrence, his receivers stepped up as a group collectively and defensively, they made a good Aggies offense for Texas A&M look discombobulated. That’s another win for the defending champs and their streak is now sitting at 17 consecutive wins. I said this on Twitter the other day: We talk so much about the group of receivers that Tua Tagovailoa has in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Crimson Tide, what about these Clemson receivers? The best comparison I can make for them is they remind me of the group of receivers that Philip Rivers has in Los Angeles with the Chargers and I can explain what I mean. Just like L.A. has, the Clemson group of pass catchers have length to them. Justyn Ross is 6’4 and Tee Higgins is 6’4. When you see these guys, they play with a basketball players’ mindset because they just go over the top and take the football out the air which I refer to as “grown man football”. As a defense, it’s a different unit with all they had last year playing at the next level but try telling that to defensive coordinator Brent Venables and I’m sure he’ll look at you a certain way. He will make sure they still get the job done, no matter who’s playing. That’s what has made this team so good. It’s their first road game on Saturday night and they face a team that’s been a thorn in their side for some years now.

Syracuse: This program continues to tread in the right direction under Dino Babers. Syracuse over the years has found themselves in situations that they shouldn’t be in according to the experts and what I mean by this is when they’ve been heavy underdogs, they always bring their a-game and play hard which is what you want to see. Let’s talk about that game the other day against the Maryland Terrapins. I just saw a team that gave up and didn’t even want to try anymore. Your defense was awful with the lack of open field tackling, not getting to the ball-carrier to make a stop and they sat back and dared quarterback Josh Jackson to beat them. Be care what you ask for or what you try to do defensively because some guys will take on the challenge. The Orange gave up 63 points in that game. Two 21 points quarters in the first half of the game which shows that defense was simply an afterthought. Give Maryland some credit though because they forced linebackers to line up in space to cover and their plain worked. Their offense hasn’t been able to turn broken plays into yards like they were able to do when Eric Dungey was their quarterback. Also, chemistry is still being built within their offense now. Quarterback Tommy DeVito is still learning to get on the same page with his receivers. This is their most anticipated game of the year on Saturday night. The defending champs are in town.

Clemson Player To Watch: Amari Rodgers– He’s probably their most dynamic receiver of the bunch. He’s a key piece on special teams and within the offense, you can move him around and he just goes to work. Outside on the perimeter, inside in the slot and over the middle. He’s their chain mover. When you need a conversion on third down, this is the guy to target.

Syracuse Player To Watch: Nykeim Johnson– You’re not going to run the football on this Clemson defense, so be prepared to throw the football. He’s the Orange’s top receiver. Nykeim is a smooth route runner with the speed to win each matchup he’s presented with. He’s more than just a guy that can catch the ball. He’s used quite a bit on jet sweeps to get additional yardage.

Final Analysis: This is a match up to watch! The last two showdowns between these two have been interesting. In 2017, Syracuse shocked the world and upset these Clemson Tigers. Last season in Death Valley, Syracuse gave Clemson all they could handle in a losing effort. I don’t expect this to be a runaway game for the Tigers. Syracuse will make things difficult for Clemson once again. This Orange defense needs to tighten things up across the board on the defensive side. If Maryland put up 63 on you, what makes you think Clemson won’t light up the scoreboard? Clemson will make the redshirt sophomore DeVito beat them over the top. They can try to establish Moe Neal if they want. Good luck. Clemson can’t take this team lightly and I hope Dabo preaches this to them in practice all week up until game time.

Prediction: Clemson 31 Syracuse 24