After a crushing loss last week to Wake Forest in which a 21-10 lead became a 45-35 meltdown, the Syracuse Orange look to rebound on the road against the Boston College Eagles.
There’s much at stake in this one, including a better bowl game, the final appearance for some senior players, and respect after dropping five straight games. Here’s what to watch for.
- Teams: Syracuse Orange (6-5, 3-4 ACC) v. Boston College Eagles (6-4, 2-4)
- Date: Saturday, Nov. 26
- Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Venue: Alumni Stadium (Chestnut Hill, MA)
- Network: ACC Regional Sports Network (YES Locally)
Fearless Prediction: Syracuse 31, Boston College 20
The Juice Online Season Record: 10-1
Boston College Cannot Run The Ball
Those words should be music to Syracuse fan’s ears at this point. After starting the year quite stout against the run, that turned out to be the result of easy competition as in the Orange’s last five losses they’ve given up rushing totals of 293, 246, 161, 230, and 212 yards.
I had my concerns about the smaller size and inexperience of Cuse’s defensive line in my summer preview columns and that turned out to be an achilles heel as teams have just repeatedly ground away at them in the run game. The good news? Boston College is awful on the ground.
The Eagles are currently ranked 131st which is dead last in the nation, rushing for just 60.9 yards per game as a team. That has to put a smile on defensive coordinator Tony White’s face as he should finally be able to dominate at the line and put resources into what has become a leaky pass defense due to injuries.
This being his junior year and already owning the all-time single season rushing record for Syracuse, many believe this to be running back Sean Tucker’s final regular season game for the Orange. Many backs try to go to the NFL draft with as few “miles” on them as possible, and being a Heisman finalist in 2021 Tucker doesn’t have much left to prove.
Given the current state of the Orange and that Tucker is trying to maximize his draft value, a match up with the Eagles is ideal. Boston College is 91st in the country in rush defense, giving up 168.3 yards per game so I’d expect there to be a heavy dose of Tucker to get his numbers up. We already saw the coaching staff do something similar earlier in the year with Tucker, when he played the first drive of the second half in a 59-0 blowout over Wagner.
It’s been a while since a player of Tucker’s caliber has lined up in the backfield for Syracuse having been a finalist for the Maxwell and Doak Walker awards, so I’d say enjoy it this weekend, folks. We’ve all been pleased with his Cuse career.
Will The Coaches Finish Strong
This has been a constant theme of mine, but outside of an injury or two I believe the main reason for Cuse’s five game skid after a 6-0 start has been the coaching. This team has too much talent to be blowing leads like they did in some games, and not even getting an offensive touchdown in others.
Last week against Wake Forest started promising. The Orange still repeated most of the things I was calling for them to stop doing, but they worked. The encouraging sign was more of a focus on Sean Tucker, and they mixed in some creativity for the offense as well giving backup running back LeQuint Allen the chance to throw a deep touchdown pass to DeVaughn Cooper.
Unfortunately the defense really let the offense down in this one, as essentially one “quarter between quarters”- the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third- was a disaster and saw Wake Forest score 21 unanswered points to erase what was a 21-10 Syracuse lead.
The issue for me was the offense not adjusting and giving themselves easy opportunities to extend drives, which has been the issue all season. No quick, easy passes to keep the chains moving, too many downfield throws that when incomplete kill drives. Against an easier foe like Boston College, the coaches can probably get away with the same game plan and dominate, but will that just reinforce bad habits going into their first bowl game in half a decade? I’m afraid it will.