A quick take on Syracuse’s 24-10 win over NC State:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse won its first ACC game in school history thanks to a staunch defense and a stellar running game. The defense held the Wolfpack to just 355 total yards, while Terrel Hunt, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith rushed for a combined 364 yards. It was a 10-10 game with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter, but Smith busted a 57-yard run and Tyson-Gulley followed with an 18-yard touchdown run, which gave Syracuse the lead for good. The Orange would add another touchdown, as Hunt scrambled in from 8 yards to give the Orange a 24-10 lead with 2:39 left. It marked SU’s first win as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse took a page out of their old Big East play book, using an unstoppable running game and an impregnable defense in a grind-it-out win. It made up for Hunt’s second straight sub-par game through the air. The redshirt sophomore threw two straight interceptions in the first half and was just 10 for 20 for 74 yards. With Hunt struggling, the Orange’s offensive philosophy in the second half was simple: Run early and often. The win not only softens the sting from last week’s humiliating loss to Clemson, but also puts them halfway to bowl eligibility.
HERO: Game ball has to be split between the Syracuse backs and the defense. Smith finished with 140 yards while Gulley had 132 yards. Each had a touchdown and runs of 57 and 55 yards, respectively. Meanwhile, the SU defense held the Wolfpack to just 7-23 conversions on third down, and just 2.9 yards per rush. NC State RB Shadrach Thornton was held to 60 yards on 20 attempts.
ZERO: NC State QB Pete Thomas was an unimpressive 17 for 35 for 151 yards and 1 TD/1INT before leaving midway through the fourth with a shoulder injury. He was consistently under duress from a blitzing defense that was basically daring him to beat them through the air. For Syracuse, the bone-headed penalties need to stop. The Orange was flagged 8 times for 72 yards compared to just 4 penalties for the Wolfpack.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m. TV: ACC Network.