You probably didn’t see this one coming: But No. 2 Clemson got handled on both lines of scrimmage against 24-point underdog Syracuse in a 27-24 loss.
Clemson goes down the way Oklahoma did. Just like the Sooners, the Tigers did not suffer a flukey loss. Instead, the Orange flat beat the Tigers for most of the game.
Eric Dungey throw for over 260 yards, while adding over 50 on the ground. As expected, he was under siege for the entire contest, and took maybe even more hits than we’d figured given that pressure.
What was most surprising was the team’s overall effectiveness to move the football on the ground against Clemson, one of the nation’s top run defenses. Though the average (around 3.5 yards per carry) doesn’t show it, the 150-plus yards do. Dontae Strckland had his second straight strong running game as well.
Of course, Clemson didn’t do themselves any favors with costly penalties ...
Clemson trails Syracuse 27-24 in the 4th qtr. Tigers have 104 penalty yds, their 2nd-most in the last 10 seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 14, 2017
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... and this ugly fake punt, giving the Orange a chance to ice the game.
The Tigers trailed at the half, 17-14. Right before the break, starting Tigers QB Kelly Bryant went down with what Dabo Swinney termed a concussion.
He’d already been limping with an ankle injury suffered the previous weekend. Clemson’s offense wasn’t great with him, but looked largely lost with backup Zerrick Cooper.
That score was nearly even worse for the Tigers early on.
One Syracuse touchdown was called back due to offensive pass interference, with the following play turning into a scoop-and-score in Clemson’s favor. That 14-point swing was followed by Cuse making it to the goal line before Orange QB Eric Dungey missed a couple plays due to an injury of his own. Cuse settled for a field goal on that drive. All told, this could’ve been a 21-7 game at the half in favor of the 24-point underdogs.
The upset is a massive boost for Dino Babers at Syracuse in a game the Orange never trailed.
After winning against Virginia Tech, Babers gave this fiery postgame speech after what was at that point a signature victory.
Now he’s got another one.
As for Clemson ...
Clemson’s defense just had no answer for the Orange offense tonight. Clemson’s offense was out of sorts all night without a healthy Kelly Bryant. Fortunately, the Tigers have a bye week next week. Hopefully they can get things pulled together and get back on track.