Winslow Townson / USA TODAY

Matchup Preview: Syracuse at Clemson

Full matchup preview, breakdown and analysis for Saturday's game between Syracuse and Clemson.

SYRACUSE (4-4, 2-2) VS CLEMSON (8-0, 5-0)

Time – Saturday, November 5th, 3:30pm, Memorial Stadium

TV/Radio – ABC/ESPN2, 99.5FM WTKW

Series – Clemson Leads 3-1 (Streak: Clemson, 3)

Last meeting – 2015, Clemson won 37-27

Coaches: Syracuse – Dino Babers (1st season, 4-4); Clemson - Dabo Sweeney (9th season, 83-27)

 

STORYLINE CENTRAL

Bye Week Blitz – Syracuse has had two weeks to prepare for this game, as they spent last weekend on a bye. Will the Orange coaching staff have a few tricks up their sleeve as a result? They may need them in this one.    

Eye of the Tigers – The Clemson Tigers are coming off of an emotional, hard fought victory over Florida State. Does Syracuse have their full attention? If they do, Clemson is extremely talented and will be very difficult to beat. But if they believe this will be a cake walk and do not take the Orange seriously, this could be a competitive game.

David vs Goliath – On paper, this is a severe mismatch. Clemson is deeper and more talented all over the field. But games aren't played on paper. "Give me a slingshot and a rock," Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said this week. 

 

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Syracuse offensive line vs Clemson defensive line

Syracuse needs to score in this one in order to stay in it. They've proven that when they give quarterback Eric Dungey time, they can move the ball and score on just about anyone. That hasn't always happened, however. Missing two veteran starters, the Syracuse offensive line has been improving over the last couple of weeks. Still, it faces its toughest task of the season against the Tigers. Clemson has the best front seven in the conference. Watch this matchup early. If Syracuse is able to control the line of scrimmage, it bodes well for the rest of the game.

Orange Wins if …

They play perfect – Syracuse, despite playing better in recent week, has not played a perfect game yet. They will need to in order to pull off this upset. That means all three phases clicking, limiting penalties, no turnovers, making big plays, creating turnovers and maybe getting an unexpected score (defensive or on special teams).  

 

Tigers Win if …

They control the line of scrimmage – If the Tigers defensive line can exploit a weakness along the Syracuse offensive line to help limit the Orange offense, and the Clemson offensive line protects Deshaun Watson, Clemson should win in convincing fashion. 

 

KICKOFF PRIMER

 

Impact Player

QB Eric Dungey – Dungey has been strong the last two games. He has stepped up his game and made plays against two solid defenses. This is an even bigger test, and the Orange need him to be at his best.  

Something to Prove

Syracuse Offensive Line – They controlled the line of scrimmage for stretches in each of the previous two games. Syracuse needs their best performance of the season against the best front seven they will face this year. 

Looking to Build

LB Parris Bennett – Bennett had one of his best games of his career against Boston College. He and Zaire Franklin have clearly bought into the new system, and are playing at a high level. Bennett is looking to continue that this week. 

Freshman to Watch

DE Joshua Black – Black is a starting defensive end and seems to make plays every week. Keep an eye on Black as Syracuse will need him to get into the backfield and be disruptive.   

Opposing Players to Watch

QB Deshaun Watson - Watson is one of the best players and leaders in college football. He has a rocket for an arm, is accurate, can make plays with his feet, and steps up in the biggest moments.

RB Wayne Gallman - Gallman is a complete back. He can run by defenders or over them with a nice combination of size and speed. On the season, he has seven touchdowns and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry.     

WR Mike Williams - Williams is a flat out stud. He is a long, athletic wide receiver with good speed as well. Williams is a game breaking talent who has amassed 648 yards on 46 catches with four touchdowns this season as Clemson's leading receiver.

DL Christian Wilkins - Wilkins is a versatile player who can line up inside or outside along the defensive line. He is built like a tackle, but can move like an end. Wilkins is a flat out stud who will severely test the Syracuse offensive line. He leads the team with 10 tackles for loss. 

LB Ben Boulware - Boulware is a fantastic linebacker with Sundays in his future. He moves so fluidly both sideline to sideline and downhill.    

S Jadar Johnson - Johnson is a talented safety who leads Clemson in interceptions with four. As Syracuse tries to take care of the ball, they have to know where Johnson is lurking all game. 


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