Clemson Tigers at Syracuse Orange
Line: Clemson -28
Where: Carrier Dome
When: Saturday, 9/14, at 7:30 p.m. ET
If the Syracuse Orange weren’t looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Clemson last week, they sure looked like it.
Dino Babers’ team got routed by Maryland, 63-20. Meanwhile, Clemson had no rhyme or reason to look ahead. The Tigers took care of business, beating Texas A&M 24-10 at Death Valley. However, their backers were left furious and ripping up their tickets when the Aggies, who were 16.5-point underdogs, posted a backdoor cover on a touchdown with six seconds remaining.
Now these ACC adversaries meet at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night, with Clemson installed as a heavy 28-point road favorite. The total is set at 65 points, while the Orange has 14/1 money-line odds.
On Sunday, several offshore books opened the Tigers opened as 26-point favorites and released the total in the 58-59 range. Those numbers weren’t around at lunch on Monday, though, with the Westgate SuperBook opening the side at -27.5 and sending the total out at 61. The ‘over/under’ number was up to 65 at most spots by Thursday afternoon.
Clemson and Syracuse have met annually since 2013, which is when the Orange joined the ACC. The Tigers have won five of the six meetings, but they’ve limped to a 2-4 spread record.
Syracuse notched a historic upset on Oct. 13, 2017, shocking Clemson 27-24 as a 23.5-point home underdog. Last year, Clemson rallied from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to a 27-23 win. However, the Tigers trailed for more than 50 minutes and never threatened to cover as 24.5-point home ‘chalk.’
Both teams are 1-1 against the spread to open this season. Each team has had one game go ‘under’ the total and one game go ‘over’ the number.
Clemson has been dominant in the ACC, winning 14 straight conference games since the 2017 loss at ‘The Loud House.’ With that said, the Tigers are just 1-5 ATS in their last six September games.
There is some reason for concern with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is off to a slow start. He’s thrown for 436 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s been intercepted three times. Lawrence threw just four interceptions last year.
Since 2000, Clemson has only covered one of its seven games as a road favorite of 20 points or more.The only straight-up loss in that stretch came at Syracuse.
The ‘Cuse allowed Maryland to score 42 points in the first half last week. The Terrapins also converted 11-of-15 third-down opportunities.
Syracuse sophomore quarterback Tommy DeVito has 506 passing yards and three touchdowns, but he has also thrown three interceptions. Running back Moe Neal has rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Clemson running back Travis Etienne rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns last season when the two teams met, including the game-winning score. The Orange will need a much better defensive showing this week if it hopes to contain Etienne, Lawrence and the Tigers’ explosive group of wide receivers.
The Pick: Syracuse +28
Syracuse was horrible last week. There’s no getting around that.
But as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said, that won’t be the same team which shows up on Saturday. The Orange has had Clemson’s number in recent years, and I expect them to cover in the four-touchdown home underdog role.
Money has been all over Clemson thus far, but I think 28 points is just too many to lay. The Tigers won’t lose this time around, but Syracuse will do just enough to hang around and get the cover.