Clemson, SC–Clemson has been struggling just a tad on offense in the first halves of games in the last few weeks. But when you have a super hero as a quarterback you don’t worry as much.
The No. 1 ranked Clemson (5-0 overall, 4-0 ACC) Tigers beat the Syracuse Orangemen (1-4, 1-3 ACC) 47-21 at Death Valley Saturday noon game before a crowd of 19,000.
“It was a sloppy win but I’d rather have a sloppy win than an ugly loss any day of the week,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s not easy to win.”
Syracuse’s football team is on a three-game losing streak after a loss at Clemson on Saturday.
Part of the Cuse’s problem is that they are without quarterback Tommy DeVito (Leg Injury) and wide receiver Taj Harris who didn’t make the trip to Death Valley. There offense is really out of sync without the dynamic duo on the offensive side of the ball.
Orange quarterback Rex Culpepper threw the ball to Nykeim Johnson only twice, but one counted for 83 yards and a score but after that there were no more explosive plays from that position.
Taj Harris, a 6-foot-2 senior wide out, is one of the ACC’s leading receivers this season with 434 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 86.8 yards per game.
Harris did not make the trip for Saturday’s game after he was shown on television making an obscene gesture during last week’s loss to Liberty.
During Saturday’s post-game press conference, Dino Babers declined to answer why Harris wasn’t active for the Orange’s game against the top-ranked team in the country by saying, “It’s family business.”
Clemson has two Heisman Trophy candidates in its backfield with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Lawrence finished the game 27-for-43 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Etienne entered the game 129 rushing yards away from Ted Brown’s all-time ACC record of 4,602. Etienne finished with 86 rushing yards and three touchdowns came up a little short of the record.
The Orangemen was the last team to defeat Clemson in the regular season. It was in 2017 when Syracuse pulled off a 27-24 upset over the Tigers in the Carrier Dome. Since then, Clemson has won 34 consecutive regular-season games, the longest streak in ACC history.
“Every year they play us tight,” Lawrence said, “and they have a lot of confidence from that.”
The Orange a 45-point underdog, came back from being down 17-0 to come within a touchdown late in the third quarter before the Tigers regained its composure.
“There are a lot of teams that would’ve lost that game with the mistakes that we made,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. “I was proud of our guys for winning the game.
“We’re 6-0 because we’ve played really well to this point,” he continued.
It is the sixth straight season the Tigers opened with six wins. Although, it took a late jolt to get it done — just like usual against Syracuse.
“I don’t know what it is with the Orange vs. the Orange,” Babers said.
Andrew Booth Jr.’s fumble recovery and touchdown run after Culpepper was sacked late in the third quarter turned the game in Clemson’s behalf after that.
Orange freshman Drew Tuazama blocked a punt and four plays later Sean Tucker scored on a 7-yard run. Then right before the break, Cuse cornerback Garrett Williams caught a pass off Amari Rodgers’ hands and took it 39 yards for a pick six.
Lawrence had gone 12 games without throwing an interception before the streak ended last week against Georgia Tech.
“We’re still upset about the fact that we didn’t finish the game because we had an opportunity to beat them,” Williams said. “It really gave us just another jolt to really believe in each other again.”
Clemson must head to No. 3 Notre Dame, to Florida State and to No. 19 Virginia Tech in its four games after October.