Syracuse vs. Clemson Odds, Pick: Betting Value on Saturday’s Over/Under
Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images. Pictured: Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
Syracuse vs. Clemson Odds
Two surging teams dressed in orange will collide Saturday for the top spot in the ACC Atlantic Division. Both Clemson and Syracuse have exceeded expectations in being undefeated through Week 7.
The Orange had a season win total of five over the summer, as head coach Dino Babers has cashed those over tickets with recent victories over NC State and Purdue. Led by a stingy defense, Babers will look to upset a highly-ranked Clemson team similar to the scenario in 2017.
A plethora of questions surrounded Clemson entering the 2022 season. Would a change in weight affect DJ Uiagalelei's quarterback play? Would an explosive passing attack return? Will the defense be as good as hyped compared to the record-breaking 2018 unit?
Halfway through the season, all of those preseason questions have been answered positively. Considering the number of injuries so far this season, Clemson is on track to return to the College Football Playoff despite not reaching its peak potential on defense.
If the college football world wants to return to the chaotic 2007 season, a Syracuse victory for the division lead is a must. Clemson has won eight of the last nine against the Orange, making this an uphill climb for Babers.
The Orange's success can be directly linked to quarterback play and improved defense against the pass.
The ACC was on notice for running back Sean Tucker heading into the season, but the play of quarterback Garrett Schrader has been the difference. With a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, the fourth-year signal-caller has seen his adjusted completion percentage rise more than 10% from his career mark.
A lack of fumbles on rushing attempts has improved Syracuse to a ranking of 31st in Havoc Allowed.
Garrett Shrader takes it himself💨
🍊 takes the early lead!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 23, 2022
Syracuse possesses a great mixture of power run with Tucker and a dangerous target in the slot with Oronde Gadsden II. The tight end has nearly double as many targets as any wide receiver, holding the highest rating of any tight end, per PFF.
While the offense is heavy on the rush attack at 60%, the defense has had its most success defending opponent passing attacks.
The strength of the Orange defense comes from linebackers Marlowe Wax and Mikel Jones, who leads the team with 58 combined tackles.
The defensive shift from Babers' 4-3 to coordinator Tony White's 3-3-5 has aptly been named "The Mob" and ranks top-25 in Havoc.
The pass rush ranks outside the top 100, but plenty of the Orange's defensive counting stats are skewed with one of the lowest numbers of plays in the nation.
The defense is not only backed with the fourth-highest coverage grade but also a top-10 mark in Defensive Finishing Drives. Only 17 opponent drives have crossed Syracuse's 40-yard line, resulting in just 2.6 points per opportunity. Of its opponents' 12 red-zone attempts, only six have turned into touchdowns.
The redemption tour continues for Uiagalelei after a 2021 season that raised multiple questions about the quarterback.
After answering questions about slimming down throughout the summer, the junior has compiled 20 big-time throws and three turnover-worthy plays in 2022. Only North Carolina's Drake Maye has more big-time throws, while Arkansas State's James Blackman and LSU's Jayden Daniels have fewer than three turnover-worthy plays in 200 dropbacks.
This pocket movement from DJ Uiagalelei and then the 🚀 pic.twitter.com/dnBXt3PQHG
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 16, 2022
Clemson's complementary rushing attack fumbled twice in the opener against Georgia Tech, but only two fumbles have been recorded in 54 rushing attempts since Week 1.
The rest of the offense has improved statistically with clean quarterback play.
Will Shipley averages 3.8 yards after contact and has recorded eight explosive runs. Antonio Williams has been the most explosive target in the passing game, averaging 2.2 yards per route run with 93% of snaps coming from the slot position.
As the offense continues to build steam, the defense is on a similar path from a health perspective. This 2022 defense was project to contend with the 2018 defense that was considered an all-time best in college football.
Injuries have sacked the playing time of key contributors, including safety Andrew Mukuba, interior Bryan Bresee and edge Xavier Thomas. All three are now near full strength, with Bresee and Thomas playing over 20 snaps against Florida State last week.
The Seminoles' ultra-explosive passing downs offense was limited to just a 26% Success Rate when playing behind schedule in that game.
Syracuse vs. Clemson Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Syracuse and Clemson match up statistically:
Syracuse Offense vs. Clemson Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Clemson Offense vs. Syracuse Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||38||60|
|Seconds per Play||28.5 (109)||26.3 (65)|
|Rush Rate||59.6% (23)||53.6% (66)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Syracuse vs. Clemson Betting Pick
The under has recorded plenty of steam triggers this week, as investors look at each of the defenses as a strength in this game.
Both defensive units boast plenty of top-25 statistics, but the ability to stop dual-threat zone read attempts from Schrader and Uiagalelei will determine the side and total.
The Orange have two defensive players ranked in the top 25 individually by PFF in run stop percentage, as interior Kevon Darton and edge Leon Lowery are blowing up opposing rush attempts.
The Tigers are returning players to the defensive front seven and lack the counting stats, but execution against Florida State's ground attack was poor. The Seminoles averaged 6.1 yards per carry and logged six explosive runs on 15 zone-read attempts.
Syracuse and Clemson run zone read on nearly 60% of rushing attempts, with each offense having a common opponent in NC State. The Orange nearly doubled the Tigers in rushing yards per attempt against the Wolfpack.
There's reason to think Syracuse will have successful attempts rushing the ball and extending drives into scoring position against Clemson's rank of 54th in Defensive Line Yards.
The Tigers have also struggled in the red zone, allowing opposing offenses to score on 18 of their 22 attempts.
Syracuse's defense may have issues defending Clemson despite high rankings in advanced categories. Purdue threw for more than 400 yards and left numerous scoring opportunities on the table. With a 3-3-5 scheme that's fresh on the Tigers' minds, a rank of 99th in Defensive Stuff Rate suggests Uiagalelei and Shipley will be hitting the line of scrimmage at full speed.
Action Network's projection makes Clemson two-touchdown favorites with a total in the high 50s. The total continues to bounce between two of the biggest key numbers in 51 and 48.
Considering both offenses prefer to move the ball on the ground and will have success in Death Valley, there will be scoring opportunities that give value to the over.