Clemson, SC — In a commanding performance that showcased their defensive prowess, the Clemson Tigers (3-2, 1-2 ACC) sent shockwaves through the college football world by defeating the previously unbeaten Syracuse Orange (4-1, 0-1) with a resounding scoreline of 31-14.
The Tigers' defense took center stage in this matchup, recording an astonishing five sacks, intercepting Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader once, and forcing three critical fumbles, two of which they recovered. The defensive onslaught began early in the game when the Orange took possession on their opening drive but swiftly handed the ball over to Clemson. Garrett Shrader, in an attempt to make a run, was hit hard and lost control of the football. Clemson's Payton Page pounced on the loose ball, and although an initial targeting penalty was called on the hit, a review overturned the decision, allowing Clemson to capitalize.
Head coach Dabo Swinney praised his team's dominant performance, stating, "We won the line of scrimmage. I mean, we did a heck of a job up front. I think we won the matchups up front and created some disruption, and we challenged them. We forced the issue."
The overturned targeting call set the stage for Clemson's first touchdown, a 14-yard pass from quarterback Cade Klubnik to Troy Stellato, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard.
As the game unfolded, Clemson maintained control, leading 21-7 at halftime. Syracuse made a valiant effort to narrow the gap in the fourth quarter, but a decisive 32-yard rushing touchdown by Phil Mafah with just over six minutes remaining sealed the victory for the Tigers.
Klubnik, the Tigers' quarterback, delivered a standout performance, completing 23 of 37 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Brown played a pivotal role, catching eight passes for 151 yards, while Will Shipley contributed with 17 rushes for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Syracuse's Shrader, although facing a relentless Clemson defense, managed to complete 15 of 29 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to gaining 24 yards on 15 rushing attempts. LeQuint Allen contributed with 14 carries for 56 yards and caught six passes for 38 yards, including a touchdown.
In the wake of this victory, Clemson looks ahead to a matchup against Wake Forest, knowing that another strong defensive effort will be crucial to containing the Demon Deacons' potent offense, which averages 426 yards and 29 points per game.
The rivalry between Clemson and Syracuse continued to showcase its competitiveness, with the Tigers securing their 10th victory in 11 matchups since 2013. While Clemson has maintained the upper hand, six of these contests have been decided by 10 points or fewer, highlighting the fierce competition between the two teams. Syracuse's lone victory against the Tigers in the past decade came in 2017, underscoring the unpredictable nature of this rivalry.