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Pittsburgh Quick Predictions

Ever appropriate for throwback uniforms.
Syracuse hasn't won at Pittsburgh since 2001. I couldn't believe that stat. It seems almost impossible. These two teams always play tough and Syracuse hasn't won at Pitt in a very long time. Will the streak be broken today?
Syracuse heads to Hines Field where not even remotely near the number of fans will be there as they saw in Clemson. This is going to be a mostly empty stadium with the Panther faithful and a few SU fans. Syracuse will not be rattled on the road today. Syracuse is coming of a near miss taking down #3 Clemson. I think they don't come out disappointed with their heads down. I think they come out looking for blood. Panther blood. And despite the fact Pitt will have on great throwbacks, Syracuse will have the better team on the field. Additionally, Syracuse has the best Special Teams unit in the league. Pitt's is the worst. Pittsburgh's QB Kenny Pickett (please do, Syracuse) has been sacked  ten times this year and thrown four interceptions. Syracuse will have a real opportunity to have a FSU-like game and harass the QB with knockdowns, sacks, and hurries. That will likely cause turnovers that Syracuse can take advantage of. While Pitt will probably find success on the ground in spurts, and have a big play or two, I see Syracuse dominating like they did the second half of the FSU game, in a similar style. I think Syracuse finally breaks through and wins at Pitt on the road for the first time in a very long time, in what is essentially the turning point of the season. Syracuse needs to win these kind of games. The winable league games like this, and upcoming UNC and Louisville. Either way, I think they are on the right path and get the job done today. I'm taking the Orange 48 to 17.
This game is available on regional coverage at approximately 12:20pm. Check your local listings here. For those without the game on TV, you can watch on WatchESPN subject to blackout, or on the ACC Website or App. I'm on the road with football of my own, but John will be watching in the home office. I should be able to catch the end of the game so I look forward to hopefully celebrating with you all at approximately 4pm. GO ORANGE!

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Clemson Quick Predictions

Hey, remember Syracuse?
Syracuse hosted #2 Clemson last season in the Carrier Dome. You may be aware, but the Orange upset the #2 team in the nation last year. Now Syracuse heads to Clemson to take on the now ranked #3 Clemson. Revenge has to be on their mind, but can the Orange shock the college football world again?
As we know, Syracuse is not a Top 3 team. But they are undefeated. So is Clemson. Much like the FSU game, Syracuse is mostly a team of 3 star players going up against a team of 5 star players. Syracuse is outmatched and out gunned. Clemson just changed their starting QB from Kelly Bryant to 5 start freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence. That prompted Bryant to transfer on Tuesday. While Clemson will not fold and suck on Saturday, there may be locker room issues due to this change. And Kelly probably had some friends on the team. However, all that being said, you also can't underestimate the revenge factor. Clemson got embarrassed last year. To lose to Syracuse at home this year would be worse. The fact of the matter is, Syracuse's offense should be ready to go. The question is, can the defense hang with Clemson again. Syracuse was able to beat Florida State mostly by dominating the line of scrimmage on Defense. Syracuse was able to dominate the FSU O Line, especially the Tackles. If Syracuse is able to get to Lawrence, and get him to panic in the pocket like a Freshman, Syracuse has a good chance at another upset. While I think Syracuse will play a lot better than Vegas thinks (25.5 points seems steep), I think Clemson is just too much at home. Syracuse will have a chance to earn their best win in the last 30 years. But it just seems like it won't happen down in South Carolina. The upset isn't impossible, and Syracuse definitely has a very real chance. But I'm taking Clemson 45 to 34.
This game is available nation wide (still nice to say) on ABC at Noon. John will be watching. I'll be busy with games of my own. But I'm sure if Syracuse wins, I'll have a billion messages on my phone after the fact. Here's hoping for another upset, but even if they don't, as long as they keep winning the other games on the slate, things will be great. GO ORANGE!

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University of Connecticut Quick Predictions

Yeah their new logo sucks. I'm not using it.
Here we are. It isn't quite the Super Bowl, or even a college Bowl Game, but it's the game on the schedule this season that gets the people (and by people, I mean me) going. With no VTech or West Virginia on the schedule, and Pittsburgh and Boston College with their usual level of hate coming, UConn is the team that I really get up for. While Georgetown is still supreme for me during basketball, this season UConn for football is still big. Perhaps it was the time I was in college and UConn jumped to the Big East. Maybe it's the fact I used to work in Hartford. Maybe it's a lot of reasons (it is). But I hate UConn the most. So we've had a sustained campaign of hate on Twitter this week. And it's culminating in an actual game. Can Syracuse do what everyone expects them to do, and stay undefeated?
Yes. The short answer is yes. No drama or suspense needed. UConn is allowing an average of 673 yards per game. That would be 129th out of 129 in the nation among FBS schools. They allow an average of over nine yards per play to their opponents. They also allow the country's worst in points allowed at 55.7. And while you may be saying that it's only been three games and two of them were against ranked opponents. That's true. But then that third opponent was an FCS school, URI. That they only beat by seven points. At home. Eric Dungey is going to be starting again this week after the chunks of dirty tire were removed from his eye. And after the FSU game I'm a hell of a lot more confident if he goes down again. I don't want him to, but if he does it seems to be clear that Tommy DeVito is capable to come in and play well on offense after a disastrous first game against Western Michigan. Either way, Syracuse, and specifically Dungey, should have their way with UConn. The defense will surely give up a few big plays, but really it shouldn't matter in this one. UConn isn't going to score on every drive, and it is a very real possibility that Syracuse could. Syracuse will look to get up big early again, and I assume coast with DeVito in, saving them both for the big showdown against Clemson. I think Syracuse is focused, and no trap game will be forthcoming, providing Huskey fans with a reason to not drink some bleach. There won't be. Get the Clorox ready. Syracuse rolls big in the (moderately warm, but not insanely hot) Dome, 59 to 17.
This game is available nationwide on ESPNews / WatchESPN at 4:00pm. I'll be tailgating all day, and then heading to the Dome with my good friend John Brennan. We'll be on the Tweets here and there all day I'm sure. If you see us, say hi. If you see John napping in the trough in the bathroom please let me know. Remember kids, it's "UConn", not "UCONN". As always, UConn... U SUCK and GO ORANGE!

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Florida State Quick Predictions

Syracuse has a chance to make history.\
Syracuse handled their annual FCS opponent last week. But now an ACC heavyweight heads into the Dome. They barely beat Samford (yes, Samford) at home last week. And were smoked in week 1. So will the Orange beat Florida State for the first time in the ACC?
 Eric Dungey is primed and ready, and the Offensive Line is primed. And the running backs will do their part. The offense will be fine. It is obviously the defense that Syracuse fans will worry about. Syracuse's secondary was vulnerable the first two games. I don't think it's a secret that the way to beat Syracuse is to pass the ball. Syracuse will have to make plays on defense. But this game is going to be a track meet. And frankly it may just come down to the last possession. Syracuse had a chance to send the game to overtime at FSU last year, but a last second kick was missed. The same could happen today. But this game will be higher scoring. But I like the fact Syracuse is home and wrecked their FCS game last week, while FSU struggled. I'm taking Syracuse in the Dome 55 to 48.
This game is available nationally on ESPN at WatchESPN at 12:00pm. John is in the Dome. I'm in the home office and will be watching the entire game. We'll see you out there, and GO ORANGE!

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Wagner Quick Predictions

Is it FSU day yet?
Syracuse got the job done in Kalamazoo. Now Syracuse heads back to Syracuse for their Home Opener. And FCS Wagner comes in looking to pull the huge upset. But let me tell you, it isn't happening.
Syracuse is now 1-0, looking to get 1/3rd of the way to Bowl Eligibility. And the Orange should get there. Wagner has a couple of good players in QB Luke Massei and RB Ryan Rulse. Fulse ran off 271 yards and three scores in their opener, while Massei passed for 134, including a 55 yard touchdown. These players are capable, as they beat Bowie State at home 40 to 23. But Bowie State isn't a team in the ACC. Syracuse should dominate the line of scrimmage and find it easy to move the ball on offense. Look for Tommy DeVito to get extensive minutes in the game. Syracuse should win this one big. SU over the Seahawks 52 to 10.
This game is available Internet Only affair, at 3:330pm, my favorite kickoff time. John will be taking in the game at the Dome. I'll be in the home office for most of this, in between games of my own. As always, send any officiating or rules questions along during the game if I'm watching. GO ORANGE!

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Get back in there and win us the game!
While it was a fun game, and it was certainly a great result, the game was not an easy watch for Syracuse fans. SU amassed a nice first half lead, Eric Dungey was taken out for Tommy DeVito, and all hell broke loose. Dino Babers put Eric Dungey back in the game and all was right again. Syracuse wins their highest combined season opening score ever, beating WMU on the road 55 to 42.
Offense
B+
Eric Dungey (7/17, 184yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 200 rush, 1 rush TD) set a single game rushing record for an ACC QB. He had a monster opening day in total, and was clearly the difference in the game. The offensive line was just about as good as advertised, giving good protection to Dungey, as well as massive running lanes for him and the running backs. Moe Neal and Dontae Strickland both had 2 TD on the ground for Syracuse, with Neal getting 82 yards on 28 carries. Jamal Custis was clearly the shining star of the offense, earning 168 yards on 6 receptions, two being TDs and one of them being a massively awesome one handed grab. Tommy DeVito was not ready for the spotlight as the offense did nothing while he was in. Can't say it's too surprising, being that it was his first action in college. No alarm bells yet, but that makes Dungey staying healthy extra important.
Defense
B-
Syracuse held WMU to 2-10 on 3rd down and 1-2 on 4th. They also earned two interceptions. That being said, they can't possibly be given an A for allowing 621 total yards and 24 first downs. This was basically a collapse, starting about halfway through the 2nd quarter, and lasting until the early part of the 4th quarter. Then they did enough to stop the offensive threat of WMU, along with Dungey allowing some rest time for the defense, by actually moving the ball.
Special Teams
A
Andre Szmyt was perfect on the day, kicking two field goals (26, 43), and making seven extra points. Additionally, coverage on kicks and punts were great. No reason to not give them an A.
Coaching
C
I, like many other fans, thought that Dino Babers waiting one too many WMU scores before putting Dungey back in the game. I don't think he should have let the game get as close as he did again. Dungey should have come back in when it got back to 34 to 21. Instead, WMU scored, and make the game only 6 points. Dungey than came in and promptly marched down the field and scored, and the game was never really in doubt. But it got too close for comfort and it didn't have to. I will say that I don't think the coaches tried to have Dungey run. He just took off and moved the chains. Which was easy against WMU.
GPA
B (3.1)
Again, the ending was great. But it didn't have to be this hard. It never has to be, but it always is when Syracuse is involved. Either way, survive and advance. 1-0 for Syracuse, starting on the road against a MAC team and not an FCS squad. All in all, a nice Friday.
Syracuse heads to the Dome for their home opener against FCS Wagner. They have an extra day to prepare and should handle business, just in time to take on FSU in the Dome. Either way, Syracuse is off to a good start and needs to keep the momentum, and Dungey's health, rolling.

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Western Michigan Quick Predictions

Week 1 is a very important week.
Syracuse opens the season taking the trip to Kalamazoo to take on Western Michigan. Syracuse is on a business trip to win another season opener. But this time it isn't in the Dome and it isn't against an FCS team. Syracuse needs a win to get the season off right.
The Orange are fresh off training camp and ready to have Eric Dungey lead the Orange and the offense against the Broncos. Tim Lester, former Offensive Coordinator for the Orange, will lead Western Michigan. He never really got the Orange offense together during his time in Syracuse. But Western Michigan seems to be having a better go. The good news is that Syracuse's coaches will be somewhat familiar with what to expect from WMU on the offensive end. Syracuse's defense has been a bit of a talking point this week, with the switch from what we all thought would be Nickle sets, to a 4-3. It sounds like Brian Ward, D Coordinator for Syracuse, will play this by ear depending on what Western Michigan throws at them. The good news for Syracuse is that QB Jon Wassink isn't a huge threat to stretch the field, and lead to catastrophic big plays, he is good at making completions to move the chains. Syracuse will have to put the pressure on to get the ball in the hands of Dungey. Syracuse looks to have a coming out party of sorts, with their revamped, but very veteran, Offensive Line. This looks to be the best offensive line at Syracuse is maybe a decade. That bodes well for not only protecting Dungey, but also allowing whichever SU running back happens to get the carry to go HAM on that D. While this game may be close early as the teams are adjusting to being in an actual game, I think Syracuse will be able to pull away in the 2nd half, due to their no huddle offense, and a more balanced pass/run attack. I'm taking Syracuse in the Season Opener 34 to 24.
This game is available nationally on CBS Sports Network at 6:00pm. Both John and I will be in the home offices. As always, you can find us on Twitter @BH_Orange44 and @JBren. Also as always, any rules or official questions during the game, send them my way. Best of luck to your heart as we embark on another football season and GO ORANGE!

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The 2018 Orange::44 Football Season Preview

Summer over. Football is back.

The annual summer hiatus is over. School is back in session, and so is Orange::44. We fire it up again with a Friday night tilt for the Orange. So here comes the annual preview. It’s football season baby!
Brian’s Season Preview
Another year here at Orange::44, where we break down the season for you. And things look to improve in year 3 for Dino Babers. Eric Dungey looks to take the helm again, and  hopefully maintain his health for an entire season. To good news is Syracuse has a very capable backup that may pick up where Eric leaves off. Either way, Syracuse should improve in the only statistic that matters; wins.
Syracuse at Western Michigan:  Syracuse starts their season on a rare road game. And non against an FCS squad.  But over the last several years, Syracuse has faced a “directional Michigan” team. This year, Syracuse starts at Western Michigan. W. Michigan has some ex-Syracuse staffers, so they may compete in this one, but I expect Syracuse to run it up in the 4th and pull away to start the year 1-0.
Syracuse vs. Wagner: Syracuse then heads home to take on their annual FCS game. This time the boys from Statin Island head into the Dome to most likely lose by 40sih points. This one shouldn’t be in doubt.
Syracuse vs. Florida State: The ACC fires it up early for Syracuse as the Seminoles head into town. And the Orange should be hungry to beat FSU as they are now in the Carrier Dome, and Syracuse let them escape last year, failing to tie the game and send it to OT after they missed a field goal with only a few seconds left. There’s a new coach with Willie Taggert coming in. Not sure if that will have a huge impact, but I actually think this is going to be a huge upset for the Orange. I like SU to move to 3-0.
Syracuse vs. Connecticut: Oh UConn. Randy Edsall makes another return to the Carrier Dome.  UConn isn’t a particularly big football rivalry, but it still gets the people going. And as I am unable to head to Homecoming this year, the UConn game will be the one I attend. And while the game was fairly close the last time these two teams played in East Hartford, Syracuse was basically in control. I don’t see how UConn somehow magically sprouts the talent level Syracuse has. Syracuse should win another nice home game to go 4-0. And remember kids… it’s UConn, not UCONN.
Syracuse at Clemson: Syracuse really blew up Clemson last season, upsetting #2 in the Carrier Dome. It isn’t happening again this year. 4-1.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh:  The old rivalry moves back to Pitt after Syracuse beat them last season. Syracuse should earn a win in Pittsburgh. Something that hasn’t happened in quite a while.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina: UNC wasn’t great last year. They aren’t picked to be great this year. If this was at UNC I would say they have a shot. But it’s in the Dome. If Dungey is healthy this game should be boring. Hello Bowl Game.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina State: The Wolfpack have been fairly good as of late, being able to compete with some of the best in the ACC. However, this should be a down year. Either way, I just think Syracuse is due for a let down, and a bit of a regression to the mean. I just can’t see them winning every game. SU loses a lopsided game, like they used to with Rutgers.
Syracuse at Wake Forest: God damn does it really hurt when Syracuse loses to Wake Forest. It seems like they should never beat Syracuse. But this is the rare year where they probably do, and it is deserved. Plus, never bet on Syracuse on the road in November.
Syracuse vs. Louisville: While I can definitely see this being an upset in Syracuse’s favor, I think they will end up losing, because again… November. But let’s not forget that Bobby Petrino is a scum bag of the highest order and if Louisville didn’t want to have a scum bag on the pay roll, they could do that.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame: Syracuse heads to Yankee Stadium, a venue where they are undefeated. Sadly, this deal couldn’t be done with ND taking a trip to Syracuse. Hopefully soon. But either way, ND probably isn’t losing to Syracuse this year, sad to say. I’ll be at this game and I would love nothing more than to be in the cold and see another win after being at the last 2 Pinstripe Bowls. Sadly, Syracuse probably goes down. After all, Greg Robinson isn’t coaching this team.
Syracuse at Boston College: Ahh, the hometown match up. Living near Boston, and this game being at the end of the season, the hype train will be very high. Syracuse has a chance to possibly cement a mid-tier Bowl, or they could get blown out and it won’t matter. Either way, I’m not liking Syracuse’s recent history there. Maybe if Anish Shroff actually brought Everett’s own Diamond Ferri there, magic could happen. Sadly, it isn’t 2004. BC has a legit Heisman hopeful at HB. Syracuse goes down. Don’t pick Syracuse in November.
But I still like Syracuse going 6-6 and getting a Bowl Game. Dino Babers is on a little bit of a warm seat, despite the fact it should be ice cold. Either way, this should be a big season for Syracuse and we should see some great games and great moments.
John’s Season Preview
Welcome to my seventh annual game by game preview for Orange::44. We're entering Year Three of Dino Babers, and the fan base is probably getting impatient after two consecutive 4-8 seasons. Can we at least see improvement this season? Maybe even 6-6 and a bowl game? The games have to be played, but here's what I think might happen:
Syracuse at Western Michigan: We're playing a real team, on the road, on the Friday night before Labor Day. Not a Power-5 school, but FBS nonetheless. And really, an opportunity to play in and potentially win a road non-conference game in college is a big thing. I expect this to be a high-scoring affair: the Syracuse offense -- particularly a healthy Eric Dungey -- should produce a lot of points; while the defense probably needs some time to get into the swing of things. Plus, you know, so much of that WMU coaching staff has experience at Syracuse, so they'll figure out how to score. But I think Syracuse starts the season with a win.
Syracuse vs. Wagner: There's that FCS opponent we usually see. It's the Syracuse home opener, Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm and not up against the Great New York State Fair. I expect a decent crowd in attendance with clear bags will see the Orange advance to 2-0.
Syracuse vs. Florida State: This will be the first road game of the Willie Taggert era at Florida State. The Seminoles are coming off a season the likes of which hasn't been seen in Tallahassee in a while. As in, not great. FSU will certainly improve this year, but if Syracuse is going to have a chance to beat them, the timing/location of this game is about as good as it could be. Syracuse was *this close* to winning at FSU last year, so I'm gonna pick Syracuse to get over the hump and beat the Noles. A 3-0 start!
Syracuse vs. Connecticut: Remember, kids, friends don't let friends root for UConn. Or capitalize any other letters of UConn. This is a game Syracuse should win. It's at the Dome, and it's against UConn. Especially with the momentum coming off a win over Florida State, the Orange should get a win here and start at 4-0.
Syracuse at Clemson: The scheduling gods gave Syracuse possibly the toughest two conference games in September in FSU & Clemson. By the time this game rolls around, the Tigers will likely have settled on a starting QB, and even a 4-0 Syracuse team isn't going into Death Valley to beat Clemson.
Syracuse at Pittsburgh: The Panthers and the Orange have had a lot in common over the years. We both entered the ACC at the same time from the Big East. We've both had underperforming football teams. We both have higher expectations this season. But I think Syracuse has better talent and better coaching right now. So, 5-1 now?
Syracuse vs. North Carolina: Is there an ACC school more hated right now than UNC? Their head coach had some interesting stuff to say about CTE, they've got a bunch of suspended players, and the talent just isn't really there. This is Homecoming for Syracuse, and if my predictions hold true, this is the game Syracuse becomes bowl eligible. I'm crazy, right?
Syracuse vs. North Carolina State: The Wolfpack could struggle this year, losing some top players to the NFL. Syracuse should have the advantage in the Carrier Dome. But after hitting bowl eligibility, Syracuse loses and Orange Nation starts panicking for no reason.
Syracuse at Wake Forest: Deacs actually looks like a pretty good team this year. I've read a few things predicting Wake to upset Notre Dame in week 4. If there's that kind of hype, then let's just assume Syracuse loses down in the Forest.
Syracuse vs. Louisville: Last year it was Clemson. In other years it has been Louisville. What I'm referring to is the "Good team visiting the Carrier Dome on a Friday for an upset." This is the final home game of the season, Senior night, and in November. So I'm guessing Syracuse loses. I mean, maybe it's a toss-up, but I'll go Louisville.
Syracuse vs. Notre Dame: This game originally was scheduled for South Bend, but the Irish moved it to Yankee Stadium. They'll be wearing special pinstripe uniforms. Syracuse will probably end up wearing something stupid like platinum. Anyway, the Orange::44 crew will be in attendance for this game (and I'll also be at MSG on Thursday and Friday for the 2K Classic games). ND's supposed to be too good to lose this game, and Syracuse will be hitting that November wall again, so mark this down as a Syracuse loss.
Syracuse at Boston College: The ACC/ESPN got this right last year, putting this game the weekend after Thanksgiving. This game belongs in this weekend, forever, alternating the home field. This is the return game at Chestnut Hill. Maybe I'll go to this one too. The Eagles stole the game in the Dome last year, so the Orange have to steal this one at Alumni Stadium.
I just predicted a 7-5 season. Three more wins than last year, a bowl berth, and finally some confidence in the program and in Dino Babers. This could be the year we look back at in the future and say this is when the program turned around for good, and stayed good. Or, maybe I'm just being the eternal end-of-August optimist and will be crying myself to sleep in a few weeks. Gotta play the games and find out. I hope you go out and support the team and see what happens!

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