Syracuse will try for its second win of the season when they host Liberty (12:00 p.m. ET / ACC Regional Network) at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Ahead of the game, The Juice Online’s Brett Gustin and Wes Cheng give their predictions below.
Season Record 0-0
Liberty faces Syracuse for the second year in a row, this time at the Carrier Dome. Last year, No. 22 Syracuse dominated defensively in a 24-0 win. Fast forward one year, and the roles are a little different. Liberty heads into this Saturday’s matchup 4-0, while SU fell to 1-3 last week after a heartbreaking loss to not only Duke but their quarterback Tommy Devito.
Perhaps the numbers are a bit skewed, as Liberty’s first four opponents have combined for one win, while SU has had some tough ACC opponents already along the way. For Liberty, the story to success has been their offense lead by junior quarterback Malik Willis. He has thrown for 595 yards and is not afraid to run the ball with 340 rushing yards.
For Syracuse, the big question is going to be the defense. Liberty has an explosive offense and has a lot of versatility at the quarterback position. Against Duke it seemed that the defensive line was simply worn out, and Liberty could take full advantage of this.
Taj Harris will be the best receiver on the field Saturday, and Orange quarterback Rex Culpepper will have to find him after wearing down the defense with running back Sean Tucker. Calm down the Liberty offense, and the Orange should find their way. If there was a game in the schedule this year where the Orange could get a much needed bounce back win it would be this one, and I expect it in a 31-24 Syracuse victory.
Season Record 2-2
Liberty has roared out of the gates in 2020, posting a 4-0 record with wins over Western Kentucky, FIU, Northern Alabama and ULM.
Auburn grad transfer quarterback Malik Wells has already thrown for 595 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Joshua Mack is averaging a hair under 100 yards per game. The Orange had trouble stopping the run against Duke, and allowed over 600 total yards, and Liberty comes in averaging 34 points, 443 yards per game and 251 rushing yards.
Syracuse also announced this week that All-American safety Andre Cisco will be out for the year with a torn ACL, and he will forgo his eligibility at SU to enter the NFL Draft. The rumblings are that quarterback Tommy DeVito is also out for the season, with Rex Culpepper being promoted to the starting spot.
All of that leads to what should be a competitive game, despite the fact that Liberty’s 4-0 record is built on beating up lesser competition. Syracuse, for all of its injuries, is still a Power 5 team, and still has significantly better talent than the likes of Northern Alabama. I see the Orange hanging on for their second (and possibly final) win of the 2020 season in a 24-17 win for the Cuse.