Syracuse football beat itself in blowing opportunity to upset No. 5 Clemson

Syracuse football (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Syracuse football (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

Syracuse football had a 4-1 advantage in the turnover department against No. 5 Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday afternoon. Orange fans would have hoped that such an edge could have propelled the No. 14 ‘Cuse to victory against the Tigers.

But that didn’t occur. The Orange didn’t score at all in the second half after entering the locker room at halftime with a 21-10 lead over Clemson.

And the lone turnover by Syracuse football (6-1) came on its last offensive series and with the ‘Cuse trailing 27-21. Quarterback Garrett Shrader, who was stellar in the first half, threw a poor pass that was intercepted, sealing the six-point triumph for the Tigers (8-0).

Listen, there is no shame in losing to Clemson by six points on the road, especially considering that the Tigers are a legit College Football Playoff contender and haven’t lost at Memorial Stadium in forever.

However, what angers, frustrates and irritates me is that the Orange had plenty of opportunities to stun Clemson, move into the top 10 nationally, and jump out to the top spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic division.

Syracuse football beat itself in losing at No. 5 Clemson.

Running back Sean Tucker, an All-American during the 2021 season, averaged about 10 yards per carry on Saturday afternoon versus the Tigers.

The trouble is that he only carried the ball five times. I’m curious to see what his tweet is in the coming days regarding his performance, and the team’s performance. #NotPleased?

What gave the ‘Cuse a real shot at stunning Clemson is that aforementioned 4-1 advantage in turnovers. One would think being plus-three in takeaways would enable Syracuse football to conquer the Tigers.

Yet, after being up by 11 points at halftime, the Orange offense couldn’t get much going at all in the second half. The squad’s stellar MOB defense made tons of big plays, but its depth continues to get tested by guys getting banged up, and the ‘Cuse D looked gassed in the second half.

You can’t expect to defeat Clemson on the road when getting shut out in the second half, 17-0. You also can’t expect to knock off the Tigers away from the Hill when you commit so many bonehead penalties at inopportune times.

I thought the officials screwed the Orange a tad when they called a roughing-the-passer penalty on Syracuse football, but then missed one when Shrader got shoved after he was already out of bounds.

However, the refs didn’t lose this ACC collision for the ‘Cuse. The Orange shot itself in the collective foot. Way too many penalties. Poor clock management late in the fourth quarter.

Not getting the ball to Tucker enough. Plus, and I mean no disrespect here, but the Syracuse football passing attack can’t solely rely on Shrader connecting with tight end/wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II. Other receivers have to step up, too, so Shrader can spread things around.

I’m really proud of the fight and toughness in the ‘Cuse roster. Falling to a top team like Clemson on its own turf by six points, in my opinion, shows that the Orange is a deserving top-25 squad.

And I can’t imagine that Syracuse football will drop out of the major polls after this showing. The ‘Cuse, after going 5-7 in 2021, has already clinched a bowl game.

The Orange can still win double-digit games in 2022. But Syracuse football had a real opportunity for a signature, program-changing triumph on Saturday afternoon, and the ‘Cuse blew it.

Next up for the Orange is a date with Notre Dame this coming Saturday from the JMA Wireless Dome. Syracuse football will have to regroup and get ready for the Fighting Irish.

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