It took the entire 60 minutes, but the No. 5 Clemson Tigers managed to put away the No. 14 Syracuse Orange with a 27-21 victory on Saturday. The win extended the Tigers’ home winning streak to 38 games, a new ACC record.
Ja’Had Carter proved to be a huge difference maker for Syracuse (6-1, 3-1 ACC) early on. After coming away with an interception to end the first quarter, the sophomore housed a fumble recovery 90 yards for a touchdown to put the Orange up 14-7. After forcing a turnover on downs, Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader punched in a rushing touchdown on the ensuing drive to give his team a two-touchdown lead.
The Clemson (8-0, 6-0 ACC) offense struggled mightily for two-and-a-half quarters, turning the ball over four times while producing just 10 points during that stretch. After starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei threw his second interception of the day in the third quarter, head coach Dabo Swinney benched him in favor of highly touted true freshman Cade Klubnik.
Upon his entry into the game, the former No. 1 prep QB prospect helped lead the Tigers on a touchdown drive to pull them to within five early in the fourth quarter. After the Orange offense went three-and-out, CU running back Will Shipley broke off a 50-yard touchdown tun to put the Tigers back on top.
The game wasn’t without some questionable officiating calls that went against the visitors down the stretch. A critical third-down conversion early in the fourth was called back for holding and an apparent late hit on Shrader the following play was not called. And facing 3rd and 11 with less than three minutes left, a Klubnik incomplete pass to the end zone was negated by a pass interference call.
Trailing 27-21 late, Syracuse made one last ditch effort by getting into Clemson territory in the final minute. However, R.J. Mickens picked off Shrader with 17 seconds left to seal the win.
Clemson will be off on a bye next Saturday before heading to Notre Dame in two weeks. There will certainly be plenty of speculation over who will be the starting quarterback for that matchup.