The final score wasn’t indicative of how Syracuse football battled against Clemson. Once again, the Orange proved to be the Tigers’ kryptonite.
It wasn’t the 44.5 spread type of game most experts predicted. And for a small chunk of time, it was Syracuse football who held the upper edge in the game. Once again, the Orange proved why they shouldn’t be doubted when playing against Clemson.
Nykiem Johnson sprinted past the Clemson defense and caught a deep lob pass from Rex Culpepper, making it a 27 to 21 game in favor of Clemson. On the next possession, the Orange forced the Tigers to punt, giving Syracuse the ball with a chance to take the lead.
A decision on fourth down will be questioned more than any other.
Playing with house money and momentum, the Orange faced a fourth down and less than a yard on their own 41-yard line. Instead of taking the risk, Dino Babers elected to send the punting team on the field.
Syracuse was able to force another Tigers punt but on the next Orange possession, Culpepper fumbled the football, and Andrew Booth Jr. scooped it up and returned it to the house. From there a shift in momentum happened instantly and immediately the Twitter-verse and Syracuse football fans began to question Babers’ play call a couple of plays before on the 4th & 1.
In the postgame presser, Babers said, “If you guys can say that we should go for it somewhere, it may not be the best time to go for it.”
Clemson started and finished the game exceptionally well, scoring 30 of their 47 points in quarters one and four. But Syracuse took quarters two and three by a score of 21 to 17, showing that that 1-5 Orange do have the ability to hang in there with the top team in the country on any given day.
Statistically, the Orange just turned the ball over too much to really give themselves a shot. Culpepper’s three picks were all too easy for the Clemson defense. His fumble was also costly, giving the Tigers’ momentum they wouldn’t look back on.
For Syracuse, the story of the day was the defense – specifically how well they performed without prime time players Andre Cisco and Trill Williams.
Instead, it was another Williams – Garrett – who wowed anyone watching the game. He led Syracuse with eight tackles, one of them for a loss, knocked down two passes, and scored on a pick-six – the first one of Trevor Lawrence’s career. If anything, he’s given himself a good chance at a weekly ACC award and potentially an NCAA honor, given the fact it came against a superior Clemson offense loaded with talented wide receivers.
But SU ultimately came up short, losing 47-21. It drops them to 1-5 and in danger of one of the worst seasons in recent history if they can’t turn it around soon.
Next week won’t get easier, but it will be a good chance at a bounce-back win. Syracuse will play a Wake Forest team that is four points away from a 3-1 record with the lone blemish to Clemson.
But it’s also a Demon Deacons team that is susceptible to giving up points, putting Syracuse football in a place to earn win number two on the season.
Game time for that is set for Noon on Halloween. But until then it’ll be ‘what could have been’ thoughts in the heads of Syracuse players.