Offensive production has been the name of the game so far for Orange football this season. Syracuse was projected by Bovada and other top sports books to win 5.5 games this season, but the Orange are rolling with four wins at this point, including a 30-7 crushing of the Florida State Seminoles as underdogs and a 51-21 trouncing of the UConn Huskies. It’s already starting to seem like projected wins total for the 2018 Syracuse Orange has an extremely thin glass ceiling.
But as we move into October, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier. A bout against the No. 3 Clemson Tigers who are favored by 20 points finishes out the month of September, and there are three games on the slate in month number ten that will test the Orange continually.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh
The Panthers have a had a tough run of it. They are 2-2 at the time of writing this and very likely to be 2-3 by the time this week finishes out (they face UCF). They got a physical win over Georgia Tech and of course, won their tune-up game against Albany, but they got absolutely hammered by Penn State and took a hard-to-swallow 38-35 loss to the UNC Tarheels.
This is a winnable game for the Orange, but Syracuse can’t go into the game overly confident. They have to travel down to Pittsburgh to play in Heinz Field which is always a difficult environment to take on a battle-hardened Pitt team. Odds on the game are not yet out, but if I had to throw a number at the wall, I would say that Syracuse should come in as 10-point favorites (depending on how well Pitt plays against UCF). Pittsburgh has been allowing roughly 29 points per game, but ‘Cuse has been dropping 49 on average against their opponents.
University of North Carolina at Syracuse
North Carolina was most recently installed as 17.5-point underdogs against the Miami Hurricanes. So far, the Tarheels have only won one game this season, and they have a negative point-scored to points-allowed ratio. Eric Dungey should add to his stats against UNC. Just four weeks in he has already broken the 1000-yard mark. Dungey has 763 passing yards and another 354 on foot.
Dontae Strickland and Dungey and his passing corps should act as a solid one-two punch to the North Carolina defense, allowing this potent Orange offense to pick them apart.
North Carolina State at Syracuse
The toughest test for the month of October will come against the visiting Wolfpack. This is the hardest game of the three to make an early assessment of because we didn’t get to see NC State do battle with the West Virginia Mountaineers in Week 3 due to a postponement. So, how tough the Wolfpack actually is in comparison to how tough they are touted to be is still unknown.
The Wolfpack is 3-0, and Ryan Finely has been a surgeon. NC State is putting up a little over 370 yards per game through the air along with 107 rushing yards per game. The Pack hasn’t shown the offensive prowess that Syracuse boasts, but they still have been putting up a respectable 34 points per game. That said, they have only allowed 13 points on average so, that will likely be the biggest hurdle for Syracuse in this game. That said, the competition hasn’t been too high for the Wolfpack, so these numbers are a little hollow. We’ll learn a little more about them by watching how they perform in their upcoming game against the Virginia Cavaliers.
All in all, the Orange could very well sweep all three games in October and force the AP into a top-25 ranking.