For the second week in a row, Syracuse hits the road in search of that elusive sixth win and the bowl eligibility that comes with it. And like last week, they’ll have to earn it against a team that has given them fits since the Orange joined the ACC.
- Teams: Syracuse (5-5, 2-4 ACC) v. NC State Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2)
- Date: Saturday, November 20
- Game Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.
- Network: ACC Network
- Spread: NC State -11.5
- History: Syracuse has dropped six of the last seven contests against NC State. The loan victory was a 51-41 shootout at the Dome during the Orange’s 10-win season in 2018.
Fearless Prediction: NC State 31, Syracuse 28
(The Juice Online’s Season Record: 8-2)
If the Orange are going to wash the taste of last week’s butt kicking at Louisville out of their collective mouth, here are three keys that will help Dino Babers and his guys put last year’s 1-10 campaign behind them while earning some extra December practices.
Run the Ball
Yeah, I know, brilliant analysis in determining that the team that has run all over the ACC – well, except for last week’s debacle – should run the ball to win. Easier said than done though.
NC State ranks 11th in the country against the run by allowing 102.1 yards per game. And they only surrender 3.22 yards per carry. So it could be tough sledding for the Orange ground game. Sean Tucker will surely get his despite having an “off day” last week with just 95 yards. But Garrett Shrader must be a factor on the ground as he was in games against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Florida State.
Yellow Will Make Orange See Red
As dominant as Syracuse’s rushing attack has been, their passing game has struggled mightily. Yes, Shrader has had his moments – the long touchdown strikes to Damien Alford and Trebor Pena come to mind.
But if Shrader can’t get it going through the air and they need the run game to score, then they need to cut down on the penalties. The only thing more aggravating than a 10-yard holding flag after an 8-yard Tucker run is a false start on third-and-1.
The same is true for the defense. Creating longer fields for yourself and shorter fields for your opponents is not a recipe for success.
Speaking of short fields…
» Related: ESPN writer says Syracuse has 50-50 shot at bowl game
Syracuse’s defense has struggled to get turnovers all season. This would be an outstanding time to rediscover their turnover-producing ways of the past couple of seasons. Give the offense a couple of possessions that start in NC State territory. Given Tucker and Shrader’s big-play ability, it might not take them much to find the endzone from a short field.
So, what will happen on Saturday?
I think Syracuse will get the ground game going again and hang with NC State in a competitive game. But in the end, I think Devin Leary and the Wolfpack offense will have a bit too much for Syracuse as they pull out a tight game by… three points.
For more Syracuse coverage, Like our Facebook page, follow us @TheJuiceOnline and listen to our podcast.