NOTES: Tigers tangle with Syracuse

The Tigers and Orange will meet for the first time ever in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson vs. Syracuse Series
This is just the third meeting between Clemson and Syracuse. The Orange won the first meeting at the 1996 (end of 1995 season) Gator Bowl in Jacksonville by a 41-0 score. Clemson was ranked 23rd entering the game and coming off a five-game winning streak to close the season. Syracuse was unranked going into the game, but jumped to 17th in the final USA Today poll with the impressive win.

Last year, Clemson won at Syracuse by a 49-14 score behind the passing combination of Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins. Boyd threw for a record 455 yards and five touchdown passes, while Watkins had four catches for 126 yards, including a 91-yard score from Boyd. Clemson led 35-7 at halftime. Clemson finished the game with 624 yards of total offense and averaged 8.1 yards per play.

Syracuse Makes First Visit To Clemson
Syracuse is the second of three consecutive visitors to Clemson who will be making their first trip to Memorial Stadium. Clemson defeated Louisville on October 11, 23-17 in the Cardinals first appearance. Syracuse makes its first appearance on Saturday, then Georgia State will be a first time visitor on November 22. Syracuse is the 55th different team to come to Memorial Stadium and the Tigers are 40-13-1 against those teams when the visitor is making its first appearance. But, it has been especially difficult to beat Clemson in that first meeting since 1978. In the last 37 years Clemson is 24-2 against teams making their first appearance in Memorial Stadium.

The only teams to win their first game here since 1978 are Marshall (13-10 winners over Clemson in 1999 in Tommy Bowden’s first game as Clemson coach) and Miami (FL) (36-30 wins over Clemson in 2005 in triple overtime, the longest game in Clemson history.

Stoudt Has Faced Tough Defenses
Cole Stoudt has been Clemson’s quarterback in its last two games, victories over Louisville and Boston College, two of the best defenses in the nation. Heading into those games, Louisville was first in the nation in total defense and Boston College was ninth. Stoudt did not start against Louisville, but Deshaun Watson suffered a broken hand on his 11th play of the game and Stoudt played the last 62 snaps for the Tigers.

Stoudt has been Clemson’s primary quarterback in three games this year, the opener against Georgia when he played 67 of Clemson’s 79 snaps, Louisville when he played 62 of the 73, and Boston College when he played 81.

A look to this week’s stats shows that all three of those teams are ranked in the top 16 in the nation in total defense and all three are in the top 19 in scoring defense. Louisville is first in the nation in total defense, allowing 246 yards per game, and fourth in scoring defense, allowing 14.6 points per game. Boston College is 11th in total defense (305.3) and 16th in scoring defense (19.0), while Georgia is 16th in total defense (321) and 19th in scoring defense (20.0).

Syracuse Update
Syracuse enters Saturday’s game with a 3-4 record, but the Orange are coming off their best performance of the season, a 30-7 victory at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons scored the first touchdown of the game, but Syracuse went on a 30-0 run to end the game.

Devante McFarlane, who had just 21 yards rushing in three games entering the contest, had 10-114 in an impressive performance at Winston-Salem. Prince-Tyson Gulley is the leading rusher for Syracuse over the course of the season with 418 yards and a 5.6 average.

Both teams will have a quarterback missing today due to injury. Terel Hunt leads Syracuse in passing with 983 yards, but he is out with an injury suffered two weeks ago. A.J. Long led the Orange to victory over Wake Forest by hitting 22-32 passes for 171 yards. Jarrod West is the top receiver with 29-421. He is 10th in the ACC in reception yards per game.

Cameron Lynch is the top defender for Syracuse. He is fourth in the ACC in sacks with 5.5 and he has a team best 53 tackles overall, 15th best in the ACC. Syracuse scored two touchdowns on defensive returns at Wake Forest.

Tiger Seniors Look to Establish Record
Clemson’s senior class can establish a school record Saturday. The school record for ACC wins by a four-year class is 24, and a victory over Syracuse would give this group of 21 scholarship seniors 25 regular season wins over ACC teams. Clemson is 4-1 in the ACC this year with Saturday’s home game against Syracuse and league road games at Wake Forest and Georgia Tech remaining.

This senior class has won at least six games in each of its first three years in league play. The group is 24-5 entering the Syracuse game, 14-1 at home and 10-4 on the road. The only league home loss was last year against Florida State, the eventual National Champion of 2013.

This senior group has a 37-10 record overall, already tied for fifth best in Clemson history for a class. It ties the 1984 and 1981 Clemson senior groups. In terms of home wins, this class is 23-2 so far. The record for home wins in a four-year period is 24. The 2012 and 2013 groups were both 24-4 at home, so they could tie the mark for home wins with a victory over Syracuse.

Williams Ahead of Watkins 2013 Pace
Mike Williams is having a very productive season, especially in yards per reception. So far this year the sophomore had 30 receptions for 671 yards and four scores. That computes to a 22.37 yards per reception figure, best in the nation among all players with at least 30 receptions. Nineteen of his 30 catches have been for at least 20 yards.

The No. 4 overall pick in last year's draft, Sammy Watkins, had 44 catches through seven games last year compared to Williams’ 30, Williams has a higher yards per catch (22.4 vs. 14.8), and receptions of 20 yards or more. Watkins had seven through seven games last year and Williams already has 19 this year.

Clemson Defense Among Nation’s Best
Clemson has one of the top defenses in the nation this year based on the latest NCAA data. The Tigers lead the nation in third-down conversion defense, allowing opponents to convert just 23.6 percent of the time. Over the last two weeks Louisville and Boston College are a combed 3-31 on third down. Clemson is also first in the nation on negative yardage on tackles for loss with 316.

Clemson is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in nine categories and in the top 20 in 15. This week Clemson is fifth in total defense, allowing 283 yards per game, fourth in sacks (3.71), second in tackles for loss per game (9.43) and fourth in first downs allowed per game. Clemson is 14th in rushing defense, allowing 103.3 yards per game, and 14th in pass defense, allowing 179.4 yards per game. Clemson, Louisville and Stanford are the only three teams in the nation ranked in the top 15 in both rushing defense and pass defense. Top Stories