In scanning the odds board for the ACC and top-25 action for this weekend in college football, no game stands out more than No. 1 Clemson hosting Syracuse. As of Wednesday, the Tigers are listed as 46-point favorites.
To barely cover that massive spread would actually be a step back from the 66-point win Clemson just had against Georgia Tech on Saturday. In fact, the Tigers were nearly covering that number with their 52-7 halftime lead, allowing the second half to be dominated by the backups to the point of having a listed punter in at quarterback before the conclusion of the game. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said after the game the goal is “score every time we have the ball,” and so while Clemson will apparently dig deeper and deeper on the depth chart as games get out of hand, there is no changing the team’s aggressiveness on offense.
Speaking of depth, Clemson’s willingness to continue to pour it on with backups is only half of the reason you see this nearly seven-touchdown spread on the board. These are the kind of spreads you see when top power conference programs take on FCS teams, and Syracuse is working with the depth of an FCS team right now.
According to Syracuse.com, fewer than 60 scholarship players are suiting up for the Orange right now and “nearly half are freshmen.” Based on preseason projections, the combination of injuries and opt-outs have taken more than a dozen starters out of the lineup, including All-American safety Andre Cisco.
Known for his pass defense thanks to starting the year as the FBS career leader in interceptions, Cisco was also a huge part of the run defense. However, Cisco was lost for the year to injury and in the three games since, Syracuse has allowed 976 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns to Georgia Tech, Duke and Liberty.
Syracuse has not been this big of an underdog since 1983 when it played No. 1 Nebraska in Lincoln as a 38-point underdog. It’s also the largest spread as an ACC member since being a 37.5-point underdog to eventual national champion Florida State in 2013. It lost both games by 56 points.
Even with the knowledge of the depth issues and Clemson’s relentless pursuit of perfection, it’s still wild to see Dino Babers, the last ACC coach to record a win against the Tigers, and his Orange as historic underdogs. Syracuse nearly followed up that 27-24 win in 2017 with another upset in 2018, only to see Chase Brice enter the game for the injured Trevor Lawrence and pull off a 27-23 win en route to a 15-0 season and national championship. We are just two years removed from that classic in Death Valley, and while Clemson is on a similar path and trajectory, the Orange could not be further from that giant-killer status.
Week 8 ACC odds, picks
Syracuse at No. 1 Clemson (-46): I understand there are several reasons outlined above to make picking Syracuse