An expected jam-packed Carrier Dome crowd will look at No. 3 Clemsons sideline on Saturday hoping to get a glimpse of Syracuse Universitys future.
The 4-0 national power Tigers, led by a big, strong-armed mobile quarterback in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race, will welcome the Orange to the Atlantic Coast Conference at 3:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ABC.
But if you ask SU running back and captain Jerome Smith, there is no time like the present for the Orange. That includes the quarterback matchup between Clemsons Tajh Boyd and SUs Terrel Hunt.
Smith posted the following on his Twitter account while SU (2-2) was idle last Saturday:
Ima take my #10 in orange against theirs
Smith, of course, was referring to SUs sophomore QB Hunt, who has led the Orange to back-to-back 50-point performances.
Everybody is going to talk about Tajh Boyd, but I got my own No. 10 that Im pretty confident in, said Smith, a team captain who ranks 12th nationally and third in the ACC with a scoring average of 10.5 points per game.
Hes young, he hasnt had as many opportunities or as much success as that guy has, but Im really confident in Terrel. So I let him know, through the social media or whatever, I got your back.
In wins over Tulane and FCSs Wagner, Hunt has been flawless.
The Orange has scored on 15-of-19 possessions with Hunt under center. He has completed 33 of 43 passes for 468 yards and seven touchdowns to go with 91 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He has yet to turn the ball over.
If Hunt met the minimum standard of 15 pass attempts per game, his 221.89 pass efficiency rating and .767 completion percentage would rank second and first, respectively, in the nation.
But Saturdays game will be the first major test of Hunts career against one of the premier teams in the nation.
I know people are going to talk about how were not ready, and theyre the No. 3 team, and all the accolades they have. But I trust (Hunt), and everybody here trusts (Hunt), so were good, Smith said.
Boyd, meanwhile, is a polished and proven product.
The ACCs reigning player of the year has thrown for nine touchdowns and an average of 248.5 yards per game, leading the No. 3 Tigers to an unbeaten start and a streak of 35 straight weeks ranked in the AP Top 25 poll.
He is second all-time in the ACC with 82 touchdown passes, and with 20 career rushing touchdowns, is just the conferences third player to factor into 100 career scores.
Among active players, Boyd ranks second in the nation in both career touchdown passes and touchdowns rushing/passing. He is fourth in career passing yards.
First-year coach Scott Shafer said that he wouldnt be surprised, if Boyd won the Heisman.
Hes one of the best quarterbacks Ive seen in a long time in college football. He can throw it. He can run it. Very confident young man. He can make all the throws, got a quick release, Shafer said. Well have our hands full with one of the best in the country.
While his bruising junior running back was happy to spark the Hunt-Boyd comparisons, Shafer was just as quick to dismiss them.
We dont want (Hunt) to press, and we dont want him to turn into anything more than a quarterback trying to be productive in this offensive system, Shafer said. As long as he does that, well have a shot.
Saturdays ACC debut will also mark SUs annual homecoming game.
SU will celebrate the occasion by retiring the No. 9 of legendary quarterback Don MacPherson at halftime, and honoring former center Pat Killorin.
ORANGES MACPHERSON HONORED
SU senior captain center Macky MacPherson has been chosen as one of 170 candidates for this years National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards.
He is also among the semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded to the absolute best scholar athlete in the country.
MacPherson, who has started every game at center the past three seasons, was named to the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District team and to the 2011 and 2012 BIG EAST All-Academic team. He has been on the Deans list four times and on the Athletic Directors Honor Roll in each of his semesters at Syracuse.
Sportswriter Josh St.Croix covers Syracuse University football for the Times and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.