In the last two seasons, only one team in the Atlantic Coast Conference has given Clemson fits.
Two years ago, Syracuse beat then No. 2 Clemson, 27-24, in the Carrier Dome. Last year, ranked third at the time, the Tigers had to rally from 10-points down in the fourth quarter for a 27-23 victory at Death Valley.
“I think that we match up really well, and that being said, Clemson is a phenomenal team with lots of talent and that is known. I think that talent wise we are catching up,” Syracuse defensive end Kendall Coleman said.
On Sept. 14 this year, Clemson returns to the spot of its last regular-season and ACC loss … the Carrier Dome. The game is already being built up as the biggest football game in Syracuse history. The Orange has even made it their homecoming game. It’s also their home and ACC opener.
Oh by the way, it will also be ABC’s Primetime game that weekend.
“Dino (Babers) has just done an unbelievable job. It’s a great place. It starts with him,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I mean, he’s put a good staff together. They have a good philosophy in place. They’re well-coached. They recruit well. They develop well.
“You can tell that it’s a relationship-driven program. He does a great job in connecting with his players. They play hard. They play hard.”
Last year, Babers led the Orange to their first 10-win season since 2001 as they finished 10-3. This year, they feel like they have a chance to be even better and obviously, they know beating Clemson can help them get there.
“Across the board, they have a prolific offense and we got the same thing, nice skill players that can really get after it. They have a defense that can put up points and we have a defense that can get the ball back, too. And special teams is right there, too,” Coleman said. “I think that is what makes it such an exciting match up every year.”
Syracuse is just the next contender in the ACC for a Clemson program that has owned the conference the last four years. The Tigers first had to knock off three-time champion Florida State in 2015 to gain control of the league and then there was Lamar Jackson and Louisville that gave the Tigers fits for a few years.
NC State has also given the Tigers a couple of scares.
Now, it’s Syracuse’s turn.
“We’ve had a lot of teams give us fits,” Swinney said. “We’ve had some good wins and some games we’ve been able to get control of. I mean, shoot, we had three games with Louisville go down to the last play. Epic battles with NC State. I know Florida State (last) year was a different type of game, as they’re transitioning. Unbelievable battles with Florida State, on and on and on.
“(Babers has) created the belief in his team that they can win, regardless of who they play. That’s what it takes. He’s done an awesome job of instilling that mindset into their team. He’s had good players, some really good players. So, I don’t see them going away any time soon.”