The Curious Case of ‘Cuse @ Clemson by Oli Hodgkinson

The Curious Case of ‘Cuse @ Clemson by Oli Hodgkinson
Reading Time: 3 minutes.

A total of twenty one teams go in to week five of the College Football season unbeaten. Six of these teams go head to head in three huge match ups where someone’s 0 has got to go. Whilst the eyes of the nation will undoubtedly be on the late Saturday games of Stanford (7) @ Notre Dame (8) and Ohio State (4) @ Penn State (9) there is a mouth watering, all Atlantic Coast Conference, clash that promises points, intrigue and maybe even a little upset on Saturday afternoon.

Before a ball is even kicked, thrown or rushed at Clemson Memorial Stadium, headlines are already being written after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney benched starting quarterback Kelly Bryant in favour of highly talented true freshman Trevor Lawrence. Despite being the designated starter, Bryant’s passing yards and touchdowns numbers so far this season have been behind Lawrence’s, possibly making a tough decision somewhat easier. On the back of the announcement Bryant told the Greenville News that he will look to take advantage of new redshirting rules and seek a transfer. How Lawrence, who was named ACC rookie of the week in week 4, handles the pressure of his elevated role is another interesting subplot to what was already an intriguing game against Syracuse.

The Tigers go in to the game with their new starting quarterback by way of big wins over Georgia Tech, GA Southern, Furman and a close win over Texas A & M in week 2. Success has come from not only strong offence, which is averaging over 40 points and 500 yards per game, but a formidable defence lead by defensive end Clelin Ferrell who has five sacks on the year already. Many are touting him to be an early first round draft pick.

The Syracuse Orange head in to town looking to go 5-0 on the season for the first time since 1987. Known more for their success on the basketball court than on the football field, they are possibly the biggest surprise of all the remaining unbeaten teams. After getting blown out by Boston College 41-17 in their last game of 2017, the Orange have used an up tempo offence to put up scores of 51, 62, 55 to sweep UConn, Wagner and Western Michigan and surprised FSU 30-7 in week 3.

Can Syracuse really pull off the win in Clemson’s own yard? Recent history would suggest that a win is possible, The Orange winning out in a close game at home last season 27-24. Their last visit to Memorial Stadium however was a resounding 54-0 defeat, part of which Coach Dino Babers attributed to the level of noise made by the home crowd. Any hope of victory will land on the shoulders of highly rated quarterback Eric Dungey who has been effective with both his arm and legs so far this year. If the Syracuse O-line can offer him protection against what is arguably one of the best D-lines in the league then Dungey could be the difference maker. Keeping Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence from unleashing his cannon arm will be a prime concern, Syracuse will need a big game from junior defensive lineman Alton Robinson who already has 4 sacks this year compared to 5 in the whole 2017 campaign.

This fixture last season was a turning point for both teams. Despite the win Syracuse lost five consecutive to go 4-8. The defeat fired Clemson to six straight wins en route to their Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama. Whichever way the game goes, it should be an entertaining one, and someone’s 0 will have to go.

This guest piece was written by Oli Hodgkinson who is a Patriots and Boston College Eagles fan. He has followed the game since 2010 thanks to his brother who introduced him to the game via Madden. You can follow Oli on Twitter at @OJHodgkinson.

Image credit: Sporting News

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