Syracuse will try for its first win of the season when they host Georgia Tech (12:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network Extra) in the newly renovated Carrier Dome on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 0-0
Georgia Tech visits the Orange, led by freshman quarterback Jeff Sims, who poses a different threat than what Syracuse has seen this season. Sims is elusive, being sacked only once while leading the Yellow Jackets with 146 rushing yards to go with his 521 passing yards.
The Orange 3-3-5 defense has only seen pocket quarterbacks to date, so their speed will be tested. The SU defense, which has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, will undoubtedly be looking to cause turnovers, as Sims has thrown four picks and owns one of the Jackets’ three lost fumbles.
Georgia Tech has been shaky in run defense, giving up 4.9 yards per carry (sacks removed), but have shown their own knack for playmaking, amassing five sacks on the season while forcing five turnovers of their own. The Orange are undoubtedly hopeful to get some of the kinks of their aerial attack worked out, as UCF shredded the Jackets for 417 yards through the air, including three plays of over 40 yards.
Defensive end Curtis Ryans’ availability for Tech will be a big factor in the game. Ryans had a pair of sacks in their opener, was one of three defensive starters who missed the UCF game, but is now listed on the Jackets’ depth chart.
While the game will be memorable for christening the Stadium (are we actually calling it that?), those memories will most likely not be positive. SU’s issues with their offensive line will not be fixed, but an opponent closer to their level will make things look better. The Jackets claim a sloppy game, 23-17.
Season Record 2-0
Georgia Tech started the season with a bang, upsetting Florida State on the road in the season opener, 16-13. But the enthusiasm was dampened in week 2, with a crushing 49-21 home loss to UCF. True freshman quarterback Jeff Sims looked like one in the loss, throwing two backbreaking interceptions and fumbling away a ball in the red zone.
Still, Sims has been effective as a dual-threat QB, rushing for more than five yards a carry, and the Yellow Jackets have another impressive true freshman, Jahmyr Gibbs at running back. He returned a kickoff 75 yards to open the UCF game, and then added two more touchdowns.
It’s still unclear whether Jordan Mason, Georgia Tech’s leading rusher in 2019, may be available for Saturday. He missed the game against UCF and the school didn’t specify the reason, but he rushed for 899 yards and seven scores last year.
Syracuse’s defense should once again keep SU in the game, and to be fair, the Orange has played two ranked teams on the road to start the year. Is Syracuse’s offense that bad, or is UNC and Pitt’s defense that good? The answer probably lies somewhere in between. I see the Orange playing a better offensive game (no where to go but up, as they say), but Georgia Tech ultimately holds off an upset bid, 17-13.