Earlier today, I discussed Garrett Schrader and the kind of season he was having so far for the Syracuse Orange, and how stopping him will be the key to success against them this Saturday.
This isn’t the first time Syracuse has come into the Clemson game undefeated. In 2018, they traveled to Death Valley with a 4-0 record. In 2022, they had a 6-0 record and already had a victory over a Top 25 team.
The 2018 Orange team turned out to be a good squad. They finished that regular season at 9-3 and followed it with a victory over West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl (now known as the Pop Tart Bowl).
The 2022 Orange team fell on hard times after the Clemson game. They finished the season 7-6, winning only one game (against Boston College) for the remainder of the season.
While the 2022 Orange had beaten 15th-ranked NC State, they faced Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Wake Forest after playing Clemson, so their schedule was backloaded.
2023 Syracuse has played Colgate, Western Michigan, at Purdue, and Army. The balance of their regular season is their ACC schedule, which also includes North Carolina and Florida State immediately following this weekend’s game against the Tigers.
I think many Clemson fans are seeing this Syracuse squad as being much like the 2022 team, and they might be right. The Orange have already lost Oronde Gadsden for the year, and it feels like it is all on Schrader’s shoulders now.
Clemson Football will need to play their best game against an undefeated Syracuse Orange squad
I wouldn’t discount that Syracuse could turn out to be much more like the 2018 team than we might think. That squad was also heavily dependent on their quarterback, Eric Dungy. The last game they dropped that season was to Notre Dame when Dungy was injured and couldn’t play.
Outside of this upcoming three-game gauntlet of Clemson, North Carolina, and Florida State, the balance of their schedule is manageable. They play Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
It is conceivable that this Orange squad will end up with a record approaching the 9-3 regular season mark they had in 2018. Pittsburgh and Wake have taken a step back from last season. Georgia Tech has shown signs of improvement but is probably not ready to compete for a top-half finish in the ACC yet. Boston College and Virginia Tech are struggling.
There is always a risk that a team can have a hangover when they come out of a big-time battle like the one the Tigers had with Florida State last weekend, win or lose. Coach Dabo Swinney says the team is ‘pissed off’. Hopefully, Clemson channels that anger into focus and determination and takes this Orange squad seriously.