Road Warriors: "It’s what we do. This is Clemson, baby.”


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Clemson plays in the Carrier Dome Friday
Clemson plays in the Carrier Dome Friday

CLEMSON – Second-ranked Clemson faces another unique challenge this week, playing on the road on Friday in a dome that’s known more for basketball than for football. Welcome to the new-world ACC.

Clemson travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange in a game scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Syracuse is 3-3 (1-1 in the ACC) on the season following a win over Pitt last Saturday. This is just the sixth meeting between to the two teams, and since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013 Clemson has won all four meetings by double digits.

The Tigers also have some impressive road streaks on the line. Clemson has won 12 consecutive games on the opponent’s home field, the longest streak in Clemson history and tied for the second-longest streak in the nation. Oklahoma has won 13 and Alabama has won 12. The Tigers have also won 12 straight ACC road games, and they’ve won 18 of their last 19 games away from home, the only loss the National Championship game to Alabama in 2016.

Cornerback Mark Fields calls it a road mentality.

“Playing on the road is a mentality that you have to have, going into somebody else's house,” Fields said Tuesday. “All of the fans are against you, so we just come together. We always say we are road dogs, so we get on the road and we handle business.”

When he was asked about playing in the Carrier Dome – also the home to Syracuse basketball – Fields smiled and said the Tigers won’t be intimidated by its small size.

“It's a different environment. I think it will be a pretty fun game,” he said. “It’s what we do. This is Clemson, baby.”

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said the Tigers are prepared for every type of road environment, including recent Blackouts (Louisville) and Maroonouts (Virginia Tech).

“I think it's just that our guys are playing at a high level every week. It's more noticeable because we are going on the road at Louisville, at Virginia Tech, and going on the road into all of these environments,” Scott said. “But it goes back to that environment and culture that Coach (Dabo) Swinney has created. We say it all the time - and maybe it's coach speak - but there is a lot of truth in it that it doesn't matter where we play or when we play.

“It can be a garnetout, whiteout, blackout or whatever out you want to make it. What time the game it is, whether it started at 3:30 and now it's GameDay or they moved it to the night or it's a full moon, none of that stuff matters. All that matters is how we play. Do we play to our standard? Our guys have bought into that.”

Defensive end Austin Bryant said the Tigers want to finish strong – next week is the long-awaited off week on the schedule.

“One thing we've been harping on these last few days is sprinting into the bye week, not limping into it. We really wanna finish the first half of the season strong and then go into the bye week and get our legs back under us and get ready for a sprint to the finish line. We are looking forward to going up there and playing. I think it's the mentality that we have.

“We know Death Valley is a great environment and we know we can win at home. But it means a lot more when you go into somebody else's house and you beat them. The guys on our team have that maturity and have the experience. We have played in big games and we've played on every stage there is to play on. So I think when it's time to go on the road and play a big game it's nothing new for us. Our coaches get us ready mentally and physically to play throughout the week.”

Bryant then described the Carrier Dome as “unique.”

“I think it's a unique place to play. Syracuse is traditionally known for their basketball,” Bryant said. “Funny story - my freshman year when we went up there, Jim Boeheim and the basketball team were practicing when we went in there for the walk-through in the stadium on that Friday. It's a neat place to play a game and it gets loud in there in the Carrier Dome. I think for a lot of guys this will be a fun place to go play a football game.”

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