What you need to know: Can Syracuse be competitive against No. 1 Tigers?

What you need to know: Can Syracuse be competitive against No. 1 Tigers?

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What you need to know: Can Syracuse be competitive against No. 1 Tigers?

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Syracuse will not be afraid to play No. 1 Clemson when it visits Death Valley on Saturday. They did it just last year when the top-ranked Tigers rolled to a 41-6 victory at Syracuse.

However, the question is will the Orange (1-4, 1-3 ACC) be able to compete with Clemson, who is coming off a 73-3 victory over Georgia Tech? Syracuse also beat the Yellow Jackets for its only win this year, a 37-20 victory in the Dome on Sept. 26.

But Orange starting quarterback Tommy DeVito went down with an injury against Duke on Oct. 10, and he will miss the rest of the regular season. That leaves senior Rex Culpepper playing quarterback. Though Culpepper threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns, he also was intercepted once and completed just 19-of-40 passes in a 38-21 loss to Liberty.

The losses are not just at quarterback either. Last week, the Orange dressed just 60 players for a home game due to injuries or players opting out the season due to COVID-19.

Clemson (5-0, 4-0 ACC) is an entirely different beast than Liberty, especially on defense where it held Georgia Tech and Miami to 210 yards or less in back-to-back games.

“You get an opportunity to play the number ranked team in the country,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said. “Whether you are injury-free or not, whether you are playing with all seniors or all freshmen, you get an opportunity to compete. No one expects you to win outside the family, and to be able to compete in a situation like that, to measure up and see where you’re at … we will see.”

Here is what you need to know for Saturday’s game:

  • The latest line has Clemson minus 45.5 points
  • Clemson running back Travis Etienne will continue his assault on the ACC record book, as he enters Saturday’s contest with 4,474 career rushing yards, 128 yards shy of tying (or 129 yards shy of breaking) the ACC’s career rushing yardage record held by NC State’s Ted Brown (4,602 from 1975-78). Etienne has reached at least 128 yards in a game 10 times in his career, including a memorable 203-yard effort against Syracuse in 2018.
  • After holding seventh-ranked Miami to nine first downs two weeks ago, Clemson held Georgia Tech to seven first downs last Saturday. This week, Clemson will attempt to hold a third consecutive opponent to fewer than 10 first downs for the first time since its 1954 season finale and the first two games of 1955.
  • Clemson is attempting to open a season 6-0 for the 16th time in school history. The Tigers have already done it seven times under Dabo Swinney … 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons. Clemson’s current five-year streak of 6-0 starts is the longest active streak in the country.
  • Clemson attempting to win a 26th consecutive home game to extend its school record for the longest home winning streak in school history. Of the 119 players on Clemson’s 2020 roster, 110 have never experienced a home loss in their Clemson careers. Nine fifth-year seniors on Clemson’s 2020 roster were on the 2016 team that recovered from a home loss to Pitt by winning the national championship that season.
  • Clemson (25 straight home wins) attempting to take sole possession of the school record for longest home unbeaten streak. Clemson was unbeaten in 25 straight games at Memorial Stadium from 1980-84, posting 23 wins and two ties under Danny Ford in that span.
  • Clemson attempting to win a 27th consecutive game against an ACC opponent, including postseason play. A 27-game winning streak against conference opponents would pull Clemson within one game of the 2012-15 Florida State Seminoles (28) for the second-longest streak in ACC history.
  • Clemson entering the game having won 34 consecutive regular season games, the longest such streak in ACC annals. Clemson’s last regular season loss came in October 2017 at Syracuse. A 35th consecutive regular season win would tie the 2008-10 Boise State Broncos (35) for the longest such streak in ESPN Stats & Info data back to 2005.
  • Clemson attempting to win a 38th consecutive non-bowl game, which would pass the 1992-96 Nebraska Cornhuskers for sole possession of the third-longest streak in the AP Poll era. Clemson has won 37 straight non-bowl games, including 34 regular season games and three conference championship games.
  • Clemson playing its 20th game all-time while ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, the 15th-most since the poll’s inception in 1936. It will be Dabo Swinney’s 19th game coached at No. 1, tying him with Jim Tressel for 17th all-time.
  • Clemson attempting to improve to 18-2 all-time when ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press. Clemson has never lost a regular season game as the nation’s top-ranked team.
  • Clemson entering the game ranked third in the country in scoring offense (48.4 points per game) and fifth in the country in scoring defense (12.0). Clemson is the only team in the country in the Top 5 in both categories.
  • Clemson, which has won each of its first five games by at least 18 points, attempting to win each of its first six games of a season by that margin for the first time in school history. Clemson opened the 1929 and 2000 seasons with five straight wins of 18-plus points before each team won its sixth game by a margin of seven points (21-14 over South Carolina in 1929, 34-27 over NC State in 2000).

Clemson Athletics and Syracuse Athletics contributed to this story

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