SU hosts No. 2 Clem­son, eyes up­set

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS -

By John Kekis SYRA­CUSE, N.Y. » Syra­cuse quar­ter­back Eric Dungey was help­less last Oc­to­ber as he watched Clem­son dis­man­tle the Or­ange in con­vinc­ing fash­ion, a 54-0 beat­down just an­other step on the way to a na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Dungey was knocked out of that game in the first quar­ter af­ter a hit to the hel­met and missed the rest of the sea­son. Healthy again, he’s anx­ious to show what he and the Or­ange of­fense can do when the sec­ond-ranked Tigers (6-0, 4-0 At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence) visit the Car­rier Dome on Fri­day night.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing Clem­son come into the dome,” Dungey said. “It’s not much fun watch­ing from the side­lines. I’m happy with the team and the con­fi­dence the team has been get­ting.”

Syra­cuse (3-3, 1-1) is com­ing off a home win over Pitts­burgh . That was a big step to­ward gain­ing bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity and boosted con­fi­dence that had sagged af­ter an un­ex­pected home set­back to Mid­dle Ten­nessee and con­sec­u­tive road losses to LSU and North Carolina State.

Clem­son coach Dabo Swin­ney has taken note as he pon­ders a Fri­day the 13th matchup.

“They’re very ca­pa­ble of beat­ing us, no ques­tion about it,” Swin­ney said. “They’re a much im­proved foot­ball team from last year. We just jumped on them last year and got up. Their quar­ter­back got hurt, and the game got away pretty quickly, but we ex­pect a hard-fought, four-quar­ter bat­tle go­ing up there.

“They’ll be ex­cited for this matchup, at night, at home ver­sus Clem­son.”

Syra­cuse has re­lied heav­ily on Dungey and his re­ceivers to move the ball, and they’ll have to con­tinue to ex­cel if the Or­ange hope to pull off an up­set. Steve Ish­mael has 56 catches for 729 yards to lead the na­tion in both cat­e­gories, side­kick Ervin Philips has 52 re­cep­tions for 475 yards, and Dungey has thrown for nine touch­downs and rushed for eight more.

“He’s a play­maker, man,” Clem­son line­backer Ken­dall Joseph said of Dungey. “When he has space he can re­ally make some­thing hap­pen.”

The game will mark the ninth time since the in­cep­tion of the As­so­ci­ated Press poll in 1936 that the Or­ange have played the defending na­tional cham­pion, and they’ve only won twice — Penn State in 1987 and Michi­gan in 1998.

Clem­son is on an 11game win­ning streak, the long­est ac­tive streak in the na­tion, has won a school-record 12 straight on an op­po­nent’s home field, and is 4-0 against the Or­ange since Syra­cuse joined the ACC.

“The odds are against us, but we’ll be there Fri­day night,” Or­ange coach Dino Babers said. “We’ll see what hap­pens.”

Other things to know when No. 2 Clem­son plays at Syra­cuse on Fri­day night: said. “Th­ese guys are faster than us. If they get out there, we’re not go­ing to catch them. We can’t let them get out there.”

MATTHEW HIN­TON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this Sept. 23 photo, Syra­cuse wide re­ceiver Ervin Philips (3) scores a touch­down against LSU dur­ing the sec­ond half as quar­ter­back Eric Dungey (2) cel­e­brates in the end zone dur­ing an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game in Ba­ton Rouge, La.

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