No. 5 Clemson is focused like a lase beam on its quest to reclaim the ACC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff field. Saturday's game presents one of the toughest tests on the road to achieving those goals as No. 14 Syracuse makes a trip into Death Valley undefeated and looking to beat the Tigers for the second time in the Dino Babers era as the biggest game of the year to this point in the ACC commands the early stage.
This is actually the first time in the 81-year history of Clemson's Memorial Stadium that the Tigers will host a meeting of two teams with records of 6-0 or better. The Orange recently improved to 6-0 with a win against NC State in the JMA Wireless Dome, while Clemson moved to 7-0 with a key road win at Florida State.
These teams have played some classics over the years, including a Syracuse win over No. 2 Clemson in Oct. 2017 and Chase Brice leading a comeback win after Trevor Lawrence had been knocked out of the game in 2018, preserving an undefeated record for the Tigers that would hold all the way through winning the national championship later that season.
But in those situations Syracuse was left to play spoiler, while Saturday's game presents a real opportunity for the Orange to jump ahead of Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division and begin making their own case for College Football Playoff consideration. Can Clemson avoid a a second loss to Syracuse in five seasons and maintain its position in the national title race? Let's get into the things to know for this pivotal ACC matchup.
How to watch Clemson vs. Syracuse live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 22 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Memorial Stadium -- Clemson, South Carolina
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Clemson vs. Syracuse: Need to know
Clemson streaking again: The Tigers currently hold the nation's longest active winning streak with 13 straight victories dating back to last season's win against Florida State on Oct. 30. If Clemson wins it moves into solo fourth place in program history for the longest winning streak, though it will still have a ways to go to match the school record. That record of 29 straight wins began in the season opener of the 2018 season and included a national championship, two ACC Championships, two College Football Playoff semifinal wins and eventually was snapped by LSU in the national championship game at the end of the 2019 season. The Tigers also have the nation's longest home winning streak going with 37 consecutive victories at Death Valley, as no member of Clemson's current roster has ever lost a game at home.
Syracuse defense ready for its toughest challenge yet: The Orange have been dangerous on offense with quarterback Garrett Shrader in the midst of one of his best seasons, All-ACC running back Sean Tucker continuing his climb up Syracuse's career rushing list (he's currently in sixth place, with No. 5 James Mungro and Larry Csonka both in striking distance with a couple strong games) and wide receiver/tight end Oronde Gadsden II emerging as one of the top pass-catching weapons in the ACC. But perhaps the biggest star in Syracuse's 6-0 start has been the defense, which currently ranks sixth nationally allowing just 13.2 points per game and eighth nationally in total defense allowing just 268.8 yards per game. But of Syracuse's five FBS wins, three of those have come against teams that rank 96th or worse in total offense. This is a big step up from the season average, and the challenge comes away from the Dome in the team's first road game since Sept. 10.
DJ Uiagalelei's bounce back season: After throwing just nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions and finishing last in the ACC in passer rating in 2021, Uiagalelei has delivered a strong showing in 2022 that is much closer to his five-star status as a high school prospect. DJU has thrown 17 touchdowns to just two interceptions so far this season and ranks in the top five among ACC quarterbacks in completion percentage, passer rating and passing yards per game. He's also played a key role in the team's success on the ground, with 337 yards and four touchdowns rushing on 11.6 attempts per game.
Clemson vs. Syracuse prediction, picks
Syracuse has the skill at linebacker and defensive back to be able to cause real problems for Clemson's passing attack, particularly when it gets into the red zone. This is shaping up to be the kind of game where the Tigers are able to move the ball well but have to settle for field goals often, which will help the Orange hang in the game and inside the number. Prediction: Syracuse +13.5
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