CLEMSON — Clemson paid a visit to Syracuse and was as gracious as they could be. The visiting Tigers played one of their worst games of the season, but did enough to come away with a 37-27 victory over the Orange.
For the third consecutive week, Clemson’s defense looked vulnerable. The Tigers have given up 191.3 rushing yards the past three weeks after giving up only 105 in the first seven games of 2015.
While this may not seem to be a dire issue in the next few weeks, it will be huge if the Tigers make it into the college football playoffs.
While the run defense was giving up chunk plays, the secondary continued its dominating ways, giving up 80 yards on 8 of 21 passing by Zack Mahoney. While Mahoney was a backup buried so deep in the depth chart that some assumed he had been drafted from the student section, he played with poise and looked to have a solid command of the Orange offense.
Syracuse Coach Scott Shafer put together a quality game plan, combining a unique take on the triple option with a good enough pass game to confuse the Clemson defense all day. It would not be enough, however, to overcome the wealth of talent the Tigers possess on offense, though.
Wayne Gallman struggled through much of the game to get anywhere, but the focus on stopping the ground game meant Deshaun Watson would have a field day playing pitch and catch. Watson would finish with 360 passing yards and two touchdowns to go along with another 105 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.
Charone Peake was finally able to showcase his broad set of skills as well, catching 7 passes for 120 yards. Eight different Tigers would catch at least one pass as Watson spread the field.
While Syracuse won’t be playing in a bowl game for the second straight season, it cannot be understated how good this team actually is. Against Clemson and LSU, Syracuse fought and remained competitive throughout both games before losing by 10 to each team.
For Clemson, this was their 10th win, making this Dabo Swinney’s fifth consecutive season with at least 10 wins.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.