Saturday will mark just the fifth meeting between Clemson and Syracuse when the two meet up at 3:30 p.m. in Death Valley. The Orange won the first meeting at the 1996 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. Since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013, Clemson has won all three games by at least double digits.
About Syracuse: Syracuse comes to Clemson with a 4-4 record and one of the most improved offenses in the nation. The Orange averages 487 yards per game in total offense, more than Clemson on a per game basis. That includes 357 yards per game passing thanks to the play of quarterback Eric Dungey and receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. The ‘Cuse has won two straight games coming in including a 31-17 victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech on Oct. 15.
Syracuse’s offense: Dungey has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,631 yards, or 329 yards per game. Etta-Tawo is third in the nation in reception yards per game at 134 and sixth in receptions per game. He already has 66 receptions for 1,074 yards and seven for touchdowns. Ervin Phillips also has 60 catches and five scores for the Orange, while Steve Ishmael has 40 catches as well. Syracuse is one of two schools with at three receivers with at least 40 receptions so far this year.
Syracuse throws the ball 45 times a game, but they still average 130 rushing yards per game. Dontae Strickland is the top rusher with 444 yards, while Dungey is a running threat as well with 289 yards and six scores from the quarterback position.
Syracuse’s defense: The Orange has 35 tackles for loss, led by Zaire Franklin, who has 7.5 and 68 total tackles. Parris Bennett is the top tackler with 73, while Chris Slayton has 26 tackles, including three sacks and seven tackles for loss. However, the defense is allowing 31.6 points and 450.8 yards per game.
Records: Clemson 8-0, 5-0 ACC; Syracuse 4-4, 2-2 ACC
Clemson injury report: Adrian Baker, DB, Knee, out; Ray Ray McCloud, WR, ankle, probable; Jadar Johnson, S, calf, will play; Jake Fruhmorgen, OT, shoulder, probable
Series record: Clemson leads 3-1
First meeting: Syracuse won 41-0 in the 1996 Gator Bowl
Last meeting: Clemson won 37-27 at Syracuse
Streak: Clemson has won three straight in the series
Stat worth noting: The current group of Clemson seniors has a 26-3 record in ACC regular season games, 27-3, when counting the ACC Championship game last year. The record for ACC regular season wins is 28, set by the 2015 seniors who were 28-4 in the regular season. That group also has the record for overall wins against ACC teams with 29 (including ACC Championship win last year). So, this group of seniors needs two ACC wins to tie both records.
Second stat worth noting: Clemson has been productive against Syracuse since the Orange joined the ACC for the 2013 season. In the three games they have played as Atlantic Division rivals, Clemson has averaged 523 yards per game, including 174.7 rushing and 348.3 passing. Clemson quarterbacks Tajh Boyd, Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson are a combined 83-116 for 1045 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. That is a completion percentage of 71.6 percent and a passing efficiency figure of 161.4. Clemson has averaged 75 plays per game and 26 first downs. The Tigers have won the three games by a combined score of 102-47, an average final score of 34-16.
Third stat worth noting: One of the reasons Clemson has had a top 10 ranking so far this year is that Clemson has gotten off to great starts. So far this year Clemson has outscored the opposition 86-6 in the first period. The only scores have been a pair of field goals, a 29-yarder by Troy and a 21-yarder by Boston College. The Tigers have continues the advantage in the second quarter, where Clemson has outscored the opposition 81-37. So, Clemson has a 167-43 advantage at halftime in the eight games combined so far this year. That is an average halftime lead of 15.5 points per game.