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Clemson to host Syracuse in Top 15 matchup

Katie Bradham, Photo Editor

Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins (80) celebrates during the Tigers’ matchup with Louisiana Tech in Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022. 

The No. 5 Clemson Tigers are set to face off against the No. 14 Syracuse Orange for this weekend’s Homecoming game 
Both the Tigers and the Orange, ranked first and second in the ACC Atlantic Division, respectively, boast undefeated records this season. The path to victory for both teams has not been easy, as both have seen their difficulties.   
Part of those struggles for the Tigers has been their play in the secondary.  
Clemson has struggled at times to contain opposing pass plays this season, allowing 255.7 passing yards per game. Conversely, Syracuse’s offense has averaged 244.3 passing yards per game, meaning defensive backs will have their hands full against the Orange.     
Syracuse wide receiver Oronde Gadsden II is at the core of this high-flying offense. Through six games, Gadsden has 31 receptions for 507 yards, averaging 16.4 yards per.   
Meanwhile, the Tigers’ leading receiver is freshman Antonio Williams, who has a team-high 334 yards. Primarily playing in the slot, Williams has emerged as a favorite target for quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
In addition to targeting Williams, Uiagalelei will likely look to use his tight ends against a Syracuse defense that is giving up 173.8 passing yards per game — the fewest in the ACC.
Both receiving significant playing time each game, Davis Allen and Jake Briningstool have become two reliable weapons.
Allen has 17 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns on the year, while Briningstool has 15 receptions for 163 yards and four touchdowns.
Both teams’ front sevens will face a test of grit as well. Syracuse’s run game is incredibly similar to Clemson’s as its top rusher, sophomore running back Sean Tucker, has 644 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Clemson’s top rusher, sophomore running back Will Shipley, has 567 yards for an average of 5.9 per carry. 
Syracuse junior quarterback Garrett Shrader also poses a threat to the Tigers’ defense. Shrader is incredibly efficient, completing 69.7% of his passes for 1,434 yards. In comparison, Uiagalelei has completed 64.3% of his passes for 1,665 yards. 
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney expressed the importance of containing Shrader as both a passer and a runner.
“I got a lot of respect for him … He is as tough as they come,” Swinney said of Shrader. “I mean, this kid loves to run the football, and he punishes people when he runs the ball. He doesn’t look to get down. He’s looking to run over you.” 
Although Shrader Tucker and the rest of Syracuse’s offense will be a handful, Clemson’s defense is back to full health and should have defensive linemen Bryan Bresee and Xavier Thomas playing more snaps this week.
Out of ten matchups against Syracuse in program history, Clemson has won eight meetings, winning the past four. The Tigers will look to extend that win streak to five at noon on Saturday.

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