A quick take on No. 18 Syracuse’s 24-9 win over No. 13/15 NC State:
WHAT HAPPENED: After an NC State field goal with 6:58 to go pulled the Wolfpack to within 17-9, the Orange responded with a clock eating nine play, 63-yard drive, culminating with a Sean Tucker 25-yard touchdown run with 2:20 left. The key play on the drive was on 3rd and 14 with 2:55 left, when Garrett Shrader scrambled, evading multiple sacks, and while staying behind the line of scrimmage, found Damien Alford for a 34-yard reception to the NC State 24, which would set up Tucker’s score. The Wolfpack didn’t score a touchdown after preseason ACC Player of the Year Devin Leary was ruled out for the season with an upper body injury.
ANALYSIS: Though Syracuse won its first five games, it lacked a signature win, with none of its opponents ranked in the top 25. That’s no longer the case after a win against No. 15/13 NC State, which should vault the Orange higher into the top 25. The win also allowed the Orange to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018, and a rare occurrence for the Orange in mid-October. That will set up a dramatic match-up with also-undefeated and No. 4 Clemson in what could decide the ACC Atlantic. That’s something even the most optimistic of Syracuse fans wouldn’t have fathomed at the start of the year.
HERO: Again, with the caveat that NC State is missing its First-Team All-ACC quarterback, the defense held them without a touchdown. It’s still impressive for an NCST team that came in averaging 30.5 ppg. The injuries are starting to pile up on that side of the ball, though, with Mikel Jones and Garrett Williams going down with injuries at various times. On offense, Syracuse got another sterling performance from Oronde Gadsden II, as he hauled in 8 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
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ZERO: Shrader made plays when he needed to, but also struggled in the first half, throwing two frustrating interceptions, one into Syracuse’s endzone. That caused a rare show of emotion from Robert Anae, who had some choice words for Shrader as he walked off the field. He finished 16 for 25, though he was far steadier in the second half.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange heads down to Death Valley to face off against No. 4 Clemson on Saturday at 12 p.m. TV: ABC.
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