CLEMSON, S.C. (WSYR-TV) – The result will not surprise any college football fan, but the way it got there might.
Syracuse fell to No. 1 ranked Clemson 47-21, but there was a moment when the ‘faith’ Coach Dino Babers often talks about almost paid off. SU pulled to within six points of Clemson early in the third quarter, before the Tigers overpowered the Orange in the end.
Redshirt senior quarterback Rex Culpeppper was 10-26 for the game with 175 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Freshman running back Sean Tucker had 10 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury in the second quarter.
Clemson junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished 27-43 with 289 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Senior running back Travis Etienne, who entered the game 129 yards away from the ACC’s all-time rushing record, ended his day with 86 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries.
SU came into the game as a 46-point underdog, its largest margin in any game. The first quarter looked like the game would live up to that margin. Clemson scored the first 17 points of the game to lead 17-0 with 4:25 to play.
Syracuse redshirt freshman Drew Tuazama got his hands on a Will Spiers punt with under a minute to play in the first quarter. That set the ‘Cuse up for its first touchdown of the day. A 7-yard run by freshman running back Sean Tucker put SU on the board less than a minute into the second quarter.
The Orange’s second score of the first half came when redshirt freshman Garrett Williams picked off Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Williams ran 39 yards all the way to the endzone to make it 24-14 with 1:18 to go in the half.
SU inched even closer in the second half on a 83-yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw and catch from redshirt senior Rex Culpepper to senior Nykeim Johnson halfway through the third. But two possessions later, Culpepper was sacked, resulting in a fumble that led to a touchdown for Clemson sophomore Andrew Booth Jr. on a scoop and score.
Clemson then put the game away with back-to-back rushing touchdowns by senior Travis Etienne in the fourth. Clemson scored its last three touchdowns off SU turnovers. Culpepper threw back-to-back interceptions on his final two drives in the game.
Syracuse falls to 1-5 (1-4) and Clemson is now 6-0 (5-0).
Next, Syracuse returns home to face Wake Forest at noon inside the Dome on Halloween.