Syracuse will look to improve to 4-0 on the season when it hosts Virginia on Friday night in an ACC clash.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (3-0, 1-0 ACC) v. Virginia Cavaliers (2-1, 0-0)
- Date: Friday, Sept. 23
- Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: JMA Wireless Dome
- Network: ESPN
Fearless Prediction: Syracuse 28, Virginia 17
The Juice Online Season Record: 3-0
It appears Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong misses his former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Armstrong, who threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns at a 65.2 percent clip in 2021 under the watchful eyes of Robert Anae and Jason Beck, is decidedly off that pace in his fifth season. Aside from his completion rate being down to 52.9 percent this season, he’s already thrown three interceptions to just two touchdowns so far this season as he acclimates to new offensive coordinator Des Kitchings.
The two touchdowns ranks Armstrong at just 101st in FBS play, and Virginia’s once high-powered offense has managed just 17.7 points per game, which is 219th in college football. UVA has also turned the ball over an unsightly eight times in three games.
Though the Cavaliers are 2-1, their two wins came against non-Power 5 opponents Old Dominion and Richmond. And in another concerning sign, UVA trailed in the final minutes against Old Dominion before a 26-yard field goal as time expired allowed the Cavs to escape with a 16-14 win.
In Virginia’s lone game against a Power 5 opponent, the Cavaliers were throttled by Illinois, 24-3. Former Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito managed the game well for the Illini, passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Meanwhile, Anae and Beck are now at Syracuse and have the SU offense humming at levels not seen since the Orange’s 10-win season in 2018. QB Garrett Shrader is doing his best 2021 Brendan Armstrong impression, and has thrown for 709 yards and eight touchdowns, and the SU offense as a whole has not had a turnover yet.
Shrader has also continued to make plays with his feet, rushing for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Still, Syracuse’s vaunted rushing attack from last year has been mostly pedestrian so far, with Heisman hopeful Sean Tucker carrying for just 254 yards and two touchdowns through three games.
On the other side of the ball, Syracuse has held opponents to 16.7 points per game while forcing six turnovers.
One of the main storylines heading into the season was how SU’s defensive line would handle the graduation of their top five players. So far, the answer has been ‘not much.’
Defensive linemen Kevon Darton and Steven Linton have combined for 20 tackles, while Caleb Okechukwu starred in SU’s dramatic 32-29 win over Purdue with a pick-6 in the fourth quarter.
Syracuse is a 10-point favorite in this game, and I’m mostly in line with Las Vegas in this game as the Orange improves to 4-0.