Undefeated Syracuse University will take on Clemson on Saturday in South Carolina.
Here are NewsChannel 9’s Sports Director Steve Infanti’s Keys to Victory:
Frustrate the Front Four
Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, and Christian Wilkins — if you don’t know these names already, you soon will. Those are the names of arguably the best defensive line in college football.
All four players are projected to be high draft picks. They are the main reason why Clemson is tied for second in the country with 16 sacks on the season.
They are fierce, they are disruptive, and they can dominate a game.
SU has shown that it can score points against pretty much any opponent. However, the Orange has yet to face a defense that’s this good upfront.
How will the ‘Cuse offensive line handle the challenge? That’s the most pressing question facing the Orange heading into this game.
If the big boys upfront can protect Eric Dungey and give him time to be Eric Dungey, SU could put itself in position for a repeat of last year.
Going back 25 years, Syracuse has played 20 games in front of a crowd that numbered 65,000 fans or more.
SU is 2-18 in those contests. The two wins came in 1998 at Michigan and in 2008 at Notre Dame in what would be Greg Robinson’s final victory with the Orange.
It’s hard to win on the road — it’s especially difficult to win at Memorial Stadium. In the last 10 seasons, Clemson has just one home loss to an unranked opponent.
That loss was to Pittsburgh in 2016. It’s a tall task facing the Orange in Death Valley.
To have any chance though, Syracuse needs to get off to a strong start and keep the fans out of the game for as long as possible.
Frazzle the Freshman
It’s been the biggest story of the week leading up to this game. Dabo Swinney decided after the win over Georgia Tech that he was going to name freshman Trevor Lawrence his starting quarterback. The change prompted senior Kelly Bryant to announce his plans to transfer.
Clemson was 16-2 with Bryant as the starter. His two losses came against Alabama and Syracuse last season. Lawrence seems to have the higher upside and probably gives the Tigers a better chance to win a national title.
However, this is youngster’s first career start.
The one close game Clemson has played so far this season, it was Bryant who led the Tigers to victory — not Lawrence.
The kid has yet to even be sacked in a collegiate game. In order to pull off the upset, SU needs to put pressure on Lawrence and do to him what the Orange did to Deondre Francois.
Against Florida State a couple of weeks back, Syracuse sacked Francois four times and hurried him all game long.
If SU can replicate that effort, the Orange has a chance to pull off another surprise.
You can catch the game on ABC on Saturday, Sept. 29 at noon.