Things to watch for when No. 21 Clemson plays Syracuse:
CRANKING THINGS UP: Clemson's offense has not been the juggernaut that rolled over opponents the past three seasons. The Tigers are averaging about 70 yards fewer a game in 2012 and 2013 when they were well over 500 yards a game. The offense has been hit hard by injuries, most notably to starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, leading rusher Adam Choice and top tight end Jordan Leggett. Watson and Leggett are expected back before season's end, but Choice will need surgery on an ACL and a long recovery.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE: A slew of injuries has forced Syracuse to use six offensive line combinations, but despite all the juggling the Orange have allowed only five sacks, tied for fourth nationally and only one behind the top spot. Led by Vic Beasley, Clemson ranks fourth in the nation in sacks with 25, so Orange freshman quarterback AJ Long knows he'll likely be doing a lot of something he enjoys — throwing on the run.
HE SAID WHAT? Syracuse coach Scott Shafer took some heat last year in a 49-14 loss to Clemson when he was caught on camera using foul language in questioning Tigers coach Dabo Swinney looking to score a touchdown at the end of the first half with his team already up big. "People made a big deal of that because it got caught on TV," Swinney said this week. "A lot of people do that in the stands to me every week." Shafer apologized to Swinney soon after and the two joked about it at the ACC spring meetings.
DYE CAST: Clemson hopes to have highly regarded running back Tyshon Dye on the field against Syracuse. Dye was a centerpiece of the 2013 recruiting class but injuries kept him on the sidelines last season and through the first seven games this fall. Swinney said fans shouldn't expect too much from Dye, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound runner from Elberton, Georgia, who has not played since midway through his senior season in high school.
THIRD DOWN: Clemson's defense has owned third downs this season, leading the country in that category this week. The Tigers have held their past three opponents — North Carolina State, Louisville, Boston College — to a paltry 6 of 45 conversion attempts. Clemson won each of those games.
WHAT TO WATCH: Syracuse at Clemson
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