Syracuse will welcome Clemson to the Carrier Dome on Friday night with the Orange looking to become the only team in the country with more than one regular-season win over the Tigers in the past five years.
The last time Clemson played in Syracuse on a Friday night, in 2017, the Orange pulled off one of the biggest upsets in all of college football that season and handed an unbeaten Tigers team that was ranked inside the top-five, its only loss of the regular season.
The Tigers (3-2, 2-1) are coming off of a bye and head into this matchup still looking to get its offense on track. Through the team's first five games, Clemson has not only struggled to put points on the scoreboard, they've also had their share of issues just moving the ball consistently at times.
Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) head coach Dino Babers met with the media earlier this week and was asked if Clemson's uncharacteristic start was a sign that the Tigers just weren't as talented this season.
“They’ve got about 150 stars over there," Babers said. "They’re a top-ranked recruiting class all the time. And now you’re saying that they’re not good. That’s the Clemson Tigers, c’mon, sheesh.”
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The Tigers' ineptness on the offensive side of the ball has been well documented. Clemson has seen D.J. Uiagalelei struggle in his first season leading the offense full-time, but quarterback play has been far from the only issue. The offensive line has failed to live up to expectations, as have the wide receivers. However, Babers attributes a lot of the issues the Tigers are facing to youth and inexperience at key positions.
"You mean they don't have a first-round draft pick quarterback and a first-round tailback this year, at this moment, that are both about to get drafted this year at this moment? OK, I'll agree with that,” Babers noted. “I think they're freshmen. They got like a couple more years before they come out. That's Clemson over there. They're Clemson. Everybody knows what that represents."
Babers admitted the youth Clemson has on offense is certainly a plus for his team heading into the game but at the same time, he also said he was well-aware of which roster features more sheer talent. That not only does Clemson have more talent than his Syracuse team, the Tigers have more than any other team in the ACC.
"So, it makes it even?" Babers responded with a smile when asked if that youth gave his team the edge. "Clemson has the best personnel in the conference. Clemson always has the best personnel in the conference. If it's going to change, it's going to take a while. But right now they have the best personnel in the conference, Coastal and Atlantic."
At the end of the day, Babers still currently considers this Clemson team the measuring stick in the ACC and the head coach is more than ready to see how his team stacks up on Friday night.
"We are looking forward to playing Clemson," Babers said. "We understand what type of game this is. You are talking about a team that has won the conference the last six years. Ton of athletes. Have a ton of respect for Dabo (Swinney) and his players. They are a class act, and we are looking forward to the game on Friday.”
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