By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Here is an inside look at the Clemson-Syracuse series as the third-ranked Clemson Tigers visit Syracuse in the Carrier Dome Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y. The game will be televised by ABC / ESPN 2 at 3:30 p.m.
About the Syracuse Orange: The Orange has won two straight games and are playing with a lot of confidence coming in. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has the offense moving after a couple of slow starts in losses to Penn State and Northwestern.
The Syracuse offense: The Orange is led by a strong running game and experienced offensive line. Quarterback Terrel Hunt will be making just his second start but he is completing 74 percent of his passes. Running back Jerome Smith leads the ACC with seven rushing touchdowns.
The Syracuse defense: The Orange will blitz from all different directions and in all situations. Sometimes they will come with a zero blitz (no safety help), leaving their corners on deserted islands at times. It is a feast or famine defense – five interceptions and seven touchdown passes allowed.
The Syracuse Special Teams: Place kicker Ryan Norton is 3-4 on his field goal attempts with a long of 34 yards, while punter Riley Dixon is averaging 44.4 yards a punt. He is fifth in the ACC in punting.
Records: Clemson 4-0, 2-0 ACC; Syracuse 2-2, 0-0 ACC
Series record: Syracuse leads 1-0
Last meeting: 1996 Gator Bowl, 41-0 Syracuse
Stat worth noting: Clemson has won nine straight ACC games and has won all nine by at least 12 points.
Second stat worth noting: The Tigers have won 12 straight games against non-ranked opponents as a ranked team. They have won all 12 by at least 12 points.
Third stat worth noting: This will be the fouth time Clemson has played in a dome stadium. The other three dome stadiums are The Superdome (1981), The Tokyo Dome (1991) and The Georgia Dome (nine times).
Memorable game: The only previous meeting took place in the 1996 Gator Bowl and Syracuse came away with a convincing 41-0 win in Jacksonville. It is the worst loss in Clemson history in a bowl game in terms of scoring margin and the largest victory margin in a bowl game in Syracuse history. The Orangemen dominated the action behind a freshman quarterback named Donovan McNabb and a future Pro Bowl receiver named Marvin Harrison. McNabb completed 13-23 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored a touchdown on the ground. He completed seven passes to Harrison for 173 yards and two scores during the game that was played in a pouring rain storm. The Syracuse defense was also outstanding and held Clemson to 90 yards rushing on 34 carries. Clemson entered the game fourth in the nation in rushing and was led by Clemson’s all-time rushing leader Raymond Priester. Priester was held to 36 yards on 15 carries. It proved to be the final game of Brian Dawkins career at Clemson. The native of Jacksonville, FL had 10 tackles in his last game as a Tiger. He and McNabb became teammates with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999.