The last two undefeated teams in the ACC will face off this weekend when the No. 14 Syracuse Orange visit the No. 5 Clemson Tigers on Saturday.
Clemson (7-0) is back to its winning ways after a relatively down season in 2021. Syracuse (6-0) has stunned the college football world with an undefeated start after few expected the Orange to even sniff bowl eligibility this year.
The winner of Saturday’s game will have the inside track in the ACC Atlantic divisional race. The Orange have proven enough to be taken seriously, though the Tigers remain a big favorite in this matchup.
We’ll break down what to expect from this crucial contest in our college football picks and predictions for Syracuse vs. Clemson on October 22.
Syracuse vs Clemson best odds
Syracuse vs Clemson picks and predictions
Syracuse has advanced past the point of being a cute little story this season and is on the verge of becoming a relevant player on the national stage. That might sound wild, but if the Orange can spring just one more upset on Saturday, they will suddenly have a legitimate shot at making the College Football Playoff and a strong chance of at least reaching the New Year’s Six bowl games.
However, there is a large, Clemson-shaped object standing in the way of that dream. The Tigers have won their last four games against the Orange, though those contests have often been closer than expected. The last time these two teams met, Clemson escaped with a 27-23 win at home in 2018. Last year, the Tigers held off the Orange 17-14 in Syracuse.
While Syracuse has gotten to this point by playing well in all phases of the game, strong defense has become the calling card for the Orange. Syracuse ranks eighth in the country in total yards allowed per game (268.8) and sixth in average points allowed (13.2). No team has scored 30 points on the Syracuse defense this year, and only one team — the Purdue Boilermakers — has put up at least 21 points against the Orange.
Obviously, Syracuse hasn’t faced an offense with the firepower of Clemson yet this year. The Tigers are averaging 38.6 points per game on the season, though that number is bolstered somewhat by the 51 points they put up in double overtime against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Opponents have held Clemson under 35 points in each of their last three contests. As much as this is a step up in competition for the Syracuse defense, the same goes for the Clemson offense. The Tigers haven’t faced off against a top defensive unit yet this season, with the North Carolina State Wolfpack being the closest comparison for the Orange. In that game, Clemson put up just 30 points, and NC State held quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to just 209 yards and a single touchdown in the air (though he did also run for two scores).
It's hard to say whether Syracuse can score enough to win this game. However, the Orange defense should at least hold the Clemson offense in check. With sportsbooks offering up numbers above 30 for the Tigers team total, I’m hitting the Under in what should be a relatively low-scoring contest between these ACC rivals.
My best bet: Clemson team total Under 30.5 (-105 at DraftKings)
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Syracuse vs Clemson spread analysis
Clemson opened Saturday’s game as a 13.5-point favorite, and that line has stayed around that number all week. That’s a big number considering the fact that the Tigers have played some tighter-than-expected matchups this year already.
While Clemson remains undefeated and has an excellent chance of reaching the College Football Playoff, the Tigers haven’t been dominant in the ACC. They needed overtime to beat Wake Forest, beat NC State by 10 points, and escaped with a 34-28 win over the Florida State Seminoles last weekend.
The Syracuse defense makes that double-digit spread look even bigger. There’s no reason to think that this game will turn into a shootout, so for Clemson to cover, the Tigers need to basically shut down the entire Orange offense.
That’s no easy task, as Syracuse is averaging 36 points and 432 yards per game itself. Even against solid defensive units like NC State and Purdue, the Orange have been able to move the ball.
Sophomore Sean Tucker remains one of the best running backs in the country, averaging 5.2 yards per carry on the year, while quarterback Garrett Shrader has emerged as a dual-threat himself, throwing for 12 touchdowns and running for five more.
None of this changes the fact that Clemson is the better team here. However, there’s little evidence that the Tigers are two touchdowns superior to Syracuse. I’m on the Orange and the 13.5 points, as Syracuse should be able to keep this one close right to the final whistle.
Syracuse vs Clemson Over/Under analysis
The total on this game opened at a modest 51.5 but has dropped down to 49.5 at most books as of Thursday. I’ve already talked at length about the Syracuse defense and how it plays into a low-scoring game, but that’s not the only reason for this total. Clemson has played excellent defense this year as well, if not quite on the level of the Orange.
The Tigers are allowing just 19.7 points per game, despite that infamous double-overtime shootout against Wake Forest. Clemson has been particularly stingy against the run. The Tigers have allowed just 86.4 rushing yards per game on the season, good for sixth-best in the country. That could pose trouble for a Syracuse offense that relies on Tucker and Shrader to generate yards on the ground.
The battle between the Orange offensive line and the Clemson defensive front represents one of the key matchups in this game. Even with the total falling below 50, I’m still inclined to favor the Under here. This is a game in which I believe neither team is likely to hit 30 points, and there’s a good chance that there are long stretches without a score.
I’m not thrilled about taking the Under at 49.5, however. If the O/U drops another full point, I’d stay off the market entirely.
Syracuse vs Clemson betting trend to know
Syracuse has held opponents to 29 points or less in each of its last six games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Syracuse vs. Clemson.
Syracuse vs Clemson game info
|Location:||Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC|
|Date:||Saturday, October 22, 2022|
|Kickoff:||12:00 p.m. ET|
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