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Clemson vs Syracuse Betting Lines and Prediction ATS

Syracuse Orange(4-0) @ Clemson Tigers(4-0)

  • Where: Death Valley. Clemson, SC
  • When: September 29, 2018 12:00 pm EST
  • Spread: Syracuse (+24) at Clemson (-24)
  • Moneyline: None
  • Over / Under: Over 67 (-105) vs Under 67 (-115)

How on God’s green earth is Syracuse a 24-point underdog this Saturday?

Ex-NFL coach Vince Tobin used to say that there are too many historians hanging around football. He was right. Every year is a new deal, and although the landscape of college allows the rich to get richer while poor teams continually suffer, Syracuse is not a charity case any longer.

No doubt the Clemson Tigers remain great. Inside track to another College Football Playoff, Death Valley, Dabo, and a special new weapon that fell out of the clear blue sky of Carolina.

But the Orange is 4-0. An impressive 4-0. And the last time these teams met, Syracuse frustrated the Tigers up, down, and sideways in a 27-24 upset shocker.

The number of points that the scrappy Orange defense held the Tigers to last season is the same number of points Syracuse is favored to lose by in 2018. Those college football betting historians – er, oddsmakers – don’t just read last year’s headlines.

All Dabo’s eggs in a Green-horn’s basket

The Trevor Lawrence era has officially begun at Clemson. After playing Lawrence and Kelly Bryant through the first 4 games, Dabo Sweeney has decided that the true freshman Lawrence will start for Clemson. Understandably, Bryant has announced he’s transferring.

It’s a rare circumstance. Bryant is 12-2 as a starter at Clemson. The kid can clearly win football games. But there’s  things that Lawrence can do with the football in his hands that Bryant never could. Through 4 starts, Lawrence has thrown 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Bryant was at 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Lawrence has traits that already have NFL scouts drooling. Some analysis from Pro Football Focus, which already considers the freshman a potential 1st-rounder:

Let’s start with the overall play where Lawrence has out-graded the more experienced Bryant in key areas. Starting with an 85.6 passing grade for Lawrence compared to a 56.3 for Bryant, the freshman has simply outplayed Bryant in their competition. Bryant bridges the gap slightly due to his rushing ability, but it’s not enough to keep Lawrence off the field.

When it comes to projecting quarterback play, grading from a clean pocket is one of the most important metrics. While it’s still early in the season, Bryant has struggled to a 54.2 grade in clean pockets, while Lawrence has excelled at 90.5, going 35-for-49 for 524 yards and eight touchdowns.

Adjusted completion percentage tells the same story with Bryant at 71.7 percent and Lawrence at 77.1. The freshman has excelled at throwing in between the numbers where he’s hit on 7-of-10 for 191 yards and three touchdowns at 10-plus yards.

It’s hard to keep a guy like that on the bench. Here’s the kicker: Clemson probably won’t need too much from Lawrence this year. Clemson has the most talent-laden defense in the country. There’s a very good chance the Tigers will have 2 players on their defensive line alone go in the top-10 of the NFL draft.

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Syracuse: Looking for a repeat of 2017

Trevor Lawrence is the best thing to happen at QB at Clemson since Deshaun Watson stepped on campus. But facing the rookie is the best Syracuse team seen in years. Dino Babers has led the Orange to their first 4-0 start since 1991. Dabo Sweeney spent a good bit of time in his recent press conference praising Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey, a big factor in the Orange managing the upset last year.

Dungey is off to another hot start, totaling 13 touchdowns to only 1 turnover. The defense is getting it done. Special teams could also be a strong suit that helps the QB rack up points on long drives. Kicker Andre Szmyt is 24/24 on extra points and 10/11 on field goals with a long of 50 yards.

Keeping Dungey upright has to be the main focus for the Orange this year. Babers has said the noise playing at Clemson in 2016 was a big issue for this team – that isn’t going to change. And with Clemson’s Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell (a combined 8 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss on the year) pinning their ears back to pressure Dungey, it could be a long day for Syracuse if the ground game and edge-blocking suffer.

ATS Pick for Clemson vs Syracuse

Swinney understands that there was value in keeping Bryant involved and happy, even if the plan was always to make a change at QB. The move comes with a whole lot of upside later. Dabo already has Alabama on his mind.

But like Jim Harbaugh’s decision to replace Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick, there might be a few minor bumps in the road before the wunderkind really gets rolling. It’s one thing to combine with another QB in a high-tech offense. It’s another to be handed the keys to the car at 18 years old.

Take Syracuse to cover (+24) on Saturday.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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