Syracuse will try for its second win of the season when they host Duke (12:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network Extra) at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Jim Stechschulte and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 0-1
Duke visits the Orange on Saturday, dragging their 0-4 record with them. The Blue Devils did one thing in their most recent loss that they had not in any other game this season – turn the ball over only once. The Devils have thrown eight interceptions in the last three games with starting quarterback Chase Brice throwing seven of them. For good measure, Duke has also fumbled nine times, losing seven. Their 3.8 turnovers per game are third-most in college football, behind Mississippi State and SU’s last foe, Georgia Tech.
Syracuse had five takeaways against those Yellow Jackets, giving them a total of ten turnovers in three games, good for third in the nation at 3.3 turnovers per game. Seven of those are interceptions, as six different SU players have picked off a pass. It seems like a perfect match for the Orange and an easy way for them to tilt the scale in their favor.
The game also sets up to see how well the Syracuse offensive line has been able to build off their success against Georgia Tech over their bye week. Sean Tucker had 100 yards on the ground in the first half against the Jackets, finishing with 112, and Tommy DeVito was sacked just once. Virginia averaged almost 5.5 yards per run play against Duke two weeks ago while Virginia Tech rolled up 338 yards on the ground against them last week. The Blue Devils also mustered just three sacks in those two contests.
If the Orange offensive line can maintain the same level of play, or perform even better against Duke, it should be another successful Saturday afternoon. SU will turn at least two turnovers into touchdowns, making the difference against the Blue Devils in a 34-20 win.
Season Record 2-1
The theme has become all too familiar for Syracuse fans. A shaky offensive line has led to an abysmal rushing attack, inconsistent quarterback play and a dreadful start to the season.
Sure, you’re probably thinking I’m describing Syracuse, and I actually probably could be. But I’m actually talking about Duke. For the first time since 2006, Duke football has started the season 0-4, and it’s the worst start in David Cutcliffe’s illustrious coaching career.
Quarterback Chase Brice was sacked seven times in a 38-31 loss to Virginia Tech. He ended up with negative rushing yards (-15) and has a dreadful 3 touchdown to 7 interception ratio.
The Blue Devils are also only rushing for just 101.0 yards per game, 67th in the NCAA. And that includes a standout game against the Hokies, where Mataeo Durant and Deon Jackson rushed for 86 and 68 yards, respectively.
This game comes down to whether SU can establish a similar running game that they did against Georgia Tech in week 3. If they can against a team that has given up an average of 197 rushing yards a game, that will open up Syracuse’s offense, and give an opportunistic defense that is +6 on turnovers this season a chance feast against a Duke team that is now -7 on the year. I see some of this happening in a 21-17 win for the Orange.