Syracuse v. LSU Football Predictions

Fournette and LSU were too much for Syracuse last year
Fournette and LSU were too much for Syracuse last year

Syracuse will play at LSU this Saturday in Louisiana. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng gave their predictions below:

Jim Stechschulte: Saturday night’s game between Syracuse and Louisiana State will likely be decided early.

In two games against FBS opponents, the Syracuse offense has started very slowly. In their first five drives against Middle Tennessee, the Orange offense lost 36 yards. They were able to muster a field goal, but that drive started at the MTSU four-yard-line and SU lost three yards before taking the three points. Against Central Michigan, SU opened with a 35-yard drive for a field goal, but after that, had four drives, including two turnovers, that netted a total of 33 yards.

The Tigers’ two wins have come when they have taken an early lead, allowing them to dictate the game and grind up foes on the ground (217 rush yards/game on the season, 259 in wins). In last week’s loss to Mississippi State, the Bayou Bengals never led and went into halftime down ten points. When the game was close in the first half, they had almost a two-to-one ratio in run-to-pass play calls and on their lone scoring drive, every play was on the ground. Down double figures in the second half, they were forced into a more pass-heavy offense and could not get anything going.

To have any chance of springing an upset, the Orange need to come out hot and get an early lead. Maybe they get a fiery pre-game speech from Dino Babers, but even if they do, the talent difference will likely be too much for them to overcome.

LSU 34, Syracuse 17.

» Related: First Syracuse-LSU meeting in Louisiana was a historic Sugar Bowl tale

Wes Cheng: An Achilles’ heel for Syracuse through its first three games has been protecting quarterback Eric Dungey, while creating space for what has so far been an anemic running game.

To be sure, the Orange on the stat sheet had an outstanding rushing game against the Chippewas, with 300 yards on the ground. But take out the four long rushes that netted SU 150 yards, and the remaining 40 attempts only got them an average of three yards a carry.

I mention this because LSU’s already thin defensive line got even thinner this week, with Ed Alexander out against the Orange. Rashard Lawrence has a chance of returning to action on Saturday, but he’s no surefire bet to play. That should give SU some opportunities on offense.

Other factors weighing in favor of Syracuse has been the early struggles of junior running back Derrius Guice, whose longest rush this season has been 25 yards. The Heisman hopeful was quiet in a shocking 37-7 loss to Mississippi State, and he wasn’t helped by 9 penalties for 112 yards.

The aforementioned factors may allow Orange to stay in it, perhaps even past the first half before the Tigers turn on the pressure and move on to a closer-than-the score-looked victory.

LSU 41, Syracuse 24.

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