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Central Michigan Quick Predictions

How about a little MACtion!
Syracuse is fresh off a bye week. And from the looks of the team in Week 1 it didn't come soon enough. Hopefully Syracuse will take the field and look much sharper than they did against FCS Villanova in their opener. And keep their starting QB in the game for the full 60 minutes.
The Central Michigan Chippewas have the privilege of taking on your Syracuse Orange this week. What looked like a pretty automatic win a few weeks ago looks like a game that could almost go either way. They won a four point victory in week 1 against FCS Chattanooga, but had a pretty large victory against Purdue in Week 2 38-17. This is a good team. Not a great team, but definitely a good team. Their best player is wide receiver Titus Davis. That plays right into the weakness of Syracuse. The Secondary is something that doesn't just bend, it definitely breaks. I don't even know why teams run the ball in the second half. They should just keep throwing it because chances are it will be complete. The Syracuse secondary is holier than the Pope. Syracuse will definitely keep the CMU running game in check though. Actually, these teams look pretty similar, mostly relying on their running game and better than average offensive lines to carry the day. Syracuse has the advantage on offense with Terrel Hunt, who is more mobile, and will certainly make big plays with his feet. Again, I think a big part of this game will come down to who turns over the ball the least. Syracuse didn't have any turnovers in their first game, but Central Michigan definitely creates them. If Syracuse can't hold onto the ball, it will make a long day even longer as Central Michigan takes their time, and a lot of clock, in moving methodically down the field. Either way, I think Hunt is the difference, fresh off a nice sit in the first game, and a bye week to think about things and get better as a leader and an offense. Syracuse will manage to bend and not break on defense this time, and the offense should look a little more dynamic having the starter back behind center for the entire game, as well as having that extra week to prepare for CMU. I like Syracuse in this one 24 to 17.
This game is available nationwide on ESPNews at 12:00pm eastern, as well as the Watch ESPN App. Both John and I will be attending my wedding, so you're on your own watching this one. I'm sure you'll be fine. As always, GO ORANGE!

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I looked like this staring at my TV for most of the game.
If you had asked me Friday morning if I thought Syracuse would be in a 2 OT game against FCS Villanova I would have said you were insane. I would have thought the same if you said Terrel Hunt would be ejected for throwing a punch. But because the starting QB was ejected, it made the 2 OT a little more plausible. What a way to open the season. To the first report card of the 2014 season.
Offense
D
Granted, the starting quarterback was out for more than half of the game. But looking at the team as a whole, they earned the D against an FCS defense. They were 5-14 on third downs and only earned 21 first downs. They only earned 320 total yards and needed a fake field goal from the special teams unit to get a touchdown when they couldn't punch it in several times within five yards of the goal line. Hunt got tossed and was only remarkable in a couple designed running plays. Austin Wilson was a serviceable backup. He did well enough to have Twitter freak out for a second there's a QB controversy. There isn't, but he was good. He didn't set the world on fire passing the ball. PTG had a solid day with 100 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Adonis Ameen-Moore didn't have as good of a day, but still ended up with a touchdown. However he needed to power through to the goal line when he did not. Overall, a poor showing to start the season and against an FCS school.
Defense
C
Syracuse allowed 25 first downs, 12-20 third down conversions, 389 yards, and most telling was allowing the quarterback to rush for 112 yards. That might be more coaching decisions, but either way, you have to make tackles and not allow them to break them and get more yards after contact. A poor showing, but they played better than the offense at least.
Special Teams
C
The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Syracuse earned a TD in the 2nd OT by faking a field goal and throwing for a touchdown from the punter / holder. Earlier Poppy Livers ran 67 yards for a TD on a punt return. Ryan Norton was 3/3 on field goals, with the longest of 38 yards. He was also a perfect 2/2 on XP as well. Coverage on the punt was a joke. Coverage on kickoffs were pretty good. The grade ends up right in the middle.
Coaching
C
The offensive play calling was fine. But the defensive play calling was bad and didn't improve. With this mobile of a QB perhaps spying would have been a good thought. Additionally, why were the secondary players giving such cushions to the Villanova receivers? It didn't make sense. Villanova only managed to not move the ball when they tried stupidly running it using their running back or a receiver dropped a pass. Sometimes the receivers are going to run perfect routes and QBs will throw perfect passes so it will be complete, but more often than not, the coverage was blown. Some of that is on the players, and the coaches take some blame for not calling plays that set them up for success. That needed to happen but didn't.
GPA
C- (1.75)
That was a rough first outing that was a missed chip shot by an FCS kicker away from starting the season off in the worst way (and about 13 years of ridicule to boot). Syracuse is lucky they escaped. All credit to Villanova who played a great game and just came up short. Not a way to start a season, but a win is a win as they say.
Syracuse now has a week off to #BeatTheBye. And hopefully improve on both sides of the ball as the next game is on the road. Hunt needs to lock it down and not let the game get out of hand again. Because if that wasn't against FCS Villanova, that was probably going to be a loss.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

I'm as surprised we won as this little guy.

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Villanova Quick Predictions

Hello old friend. Wait... this isn't a basketball game!
Time to open up another football season at Syracuse. Students started class this week, and college football has returned. Expectations are high in Central New York. Syracuse needs to start their season off right, as a nightmare October looms.
Syracuse takes on a familiar team in the Villanova Wildcats. Former fellow members of the Big East in basketball, these teams have decided to play each other on the gridiron. 'Nova is an FCS team, but a pretty good 1-AA team at that. Villanova won the National Championship in 2009 and have been fairly good since. However, they have failed to make the playoffs since 2012. That being said, they're picked to finish second in their conference, and are looking to put together a nice season, having almost all of their successful players from last year back. This game will probably come down to quarterback play. Terrel Hunt was named the starter in camp (no surprise) and will start the year out behind center, looking to build on the momentum from last year's Bowl winning campaign. Villanova will start John Robertson, who was the key to any success Villanova had last year. He's become a pretty serious passing threat, however questions remain if his offensive line can protect him enough or give him enough time to throw the ball. My gut says that the front defensive line will stop any Villanova rush attack and force Robertson to do most, if not all of the heavy lifting on offense for the Wildcats. But with the run stopped, and Coach Shafer's inclination to blitz and blitz again with a heavy pass rush, I think Robertson is going to have a pretty difficult start, middle, and probably end to his day. Quick side note: Villanova has a player named Poppy Livers. True story! I don't think Syracuse blows Villanova out of the Dome, but I do think they'll have enough of a win to declare that the season is off to a promising start. I'll take Syracuse over Villanova 41 to 17.
Syracuse plays tonight at 7:30pm eastern, and the game will be available nationally on ESPN 3 / WatchESPN. The game will be broadcast on TV locally in Upstate NY if you have the correct TV package, but my guess is the broadcast will be letterboxed and look like crap. You're better putting ESPN 3 up on your TV if you can. John is in the Dome and I'll be in the home office watching. Say hi. You know how to do that.

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The 2014 Orange::44 Football Season Preview

Sorry I didn't take time to use the new ACC logo.

Summer is over, I guess. That’s means Orange::44 is back for another year BABY! And so is the Syracuse football team. We crank up another year with our now traditional football preview where John and I go game by game say if we think Syracuse is going to win. It’s fun for everyone. Read on, intrepid viewer.

Brian’s Season Preview

Last year Syracuse went back to a Bowl Game by the skin of their teeth. Scott Shafer was new to the helm of Syracuse after Doug Marrone left for the NFL and left the Orange with basically the only option to promote from within. Ryan Nassib also graduated leaving a brand new starting QB leading this team in a new league. Now Hunt has settled into the starting role and Syracuse has improved in almost all areas. They will have a ridiculous stable of running backs, and now Scott Shafer is more comfortable with the main headset on. This should be a year of improvement in the win/loss columns.

Syracuse vs. Villanova: Villanova is an FCS team. It’s the season opener on a Friday night for Syracuse so I like their chances. Not much X’s and O’s analysis needed for this one.

Syracuse @ Central Michigan: This game is on my wedding day. They better win. I’ll be doing my best to not get in trouble with the Mrs. while sneaking views on my phone. But unless Central Michigan became far better than they were last year, Syracuse should win this game, even though it’s on the road. Plus they have an early bye week the week before so they will have plenty of time to gameplan for this one.

Syracuse vs. Maryland: Syracuse beat Maryland at Maryland last season. Now not only did Maryland jump ship for the Big (16) Ten, but Randy Edsall is still the coach. Syracuse fans in the Dome will be loud and hateful. I don’t think Maryland can pull off the stunner and silence the Dome crowd. Syracuse won’t kill them, but they’ll win by enough where people will say “hmmmmm, not bad”.

Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (at MetLife Stadium): I want to say Syracuse will win this one. But I think the only team that outdraws Syracuse in New York would probably be Notre Dame (no, it isn’t you Penn State or Rutgers). Notre Dame, despite all the scandal and coasting to the title game a few years ago, is still a big brand (for some stupid reason). They’ll have the crowd on their side. But mostly, they’ll just have a little more talent on the field. An upset is possible, but I think Syracuse will fall short.

Syracuse vs. Louisville: New league, new coach, new team. Gone is Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong. Back is Bobby Petrino. A proven cheater and liar in real life, he has proven to be a good football coach. Syracuse upset #9 Louisville two years ago when they played in the Dome. Can Syracuse pull off another upset? With L’ville key injuries it seems more likely now. I originally picked this game a loss, but now I’m switching and saying Syracuse is winning this one. Welcome to the Jungle Louisville.

Syracuse vs. Florida State: This is Syracuse’s Homecoming game. This is a game Syracuse will not win.

Syracuse @ Wake Forest: This team also has a new coach. Wake Forest is probably going to end up in a battle for last place in their division (probably with NC State again). I think they had 400 people at their spring game. I think we can safely say Wake Forest is a basketball school again, and even that team isn’t that great.

Syracuse @ Clemson: Syracuse heads to Death Valley for the first time. Tajh Boyd is off in the NFL but they will have someone at least capable at QB. I don’t think Syracuse pulls the stunner and shocks the locals. Syracuse is a few years away from that. But they certainly give a competitive first half and Dabo and Scott will have a nice hug even though Dabo will probably go for 2.

Syracuse vs. NC State: Syracuse took out NC State last season by running the ball. Syracuse will do the same this year, also while adding touchdowns through the air. Hello bowl eligibility.

Syracuse vs. Duke: Who saw Duke coming last year? I didn’t. They lost some big key pieces of last year’s run to the ACC title game, but they have enough to get the job done still. And at this point in the year, Syracuse is due for a let down anyway. And I’d rather have it happen against higher ranked (probably at this point) Duke than the following week at Pittsburgh.

Syracuse @ Pittsburgh: I don’t even remember the last time Syracuse beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. It’s been forever. It probably hasn’t even happened since I was attending Syracuse. The last two outings versus Pittsburgh, both in Pitt and the Dome, were dreadful. This year, Syracuse turns it around and puts it all together. They come out with a road win at Pittsburgh.

Syracuse @ Boston College: I’m going to this game and I live in Boston (actually I live in Chelsea but that’s just like Boston College saying they are in Boston when they are actually in Chestnut Hill / Newton) so they better win. And I think they will. This will be another close game like last year in the Dome where it took a last second drive and touchdown to not only win the game, but propel Syracuse to the post-season. While Syracuse shouldn’t need this game to get to a Bowl Game this year, it will still come down to the wire and I like Syracuse’s chances to again beat BC. Because BC sucks and always will.

So there you have it. I’m picking Syracuse going 8-5 and heading back to another Bowl Game. It looks like John and I agree. That can only mean either we’re both right, or Syracuse is losing ten games. Hopefully it is the first choice. Either way, it should be a year of very watchable football, far removed from anything on the field you perhaps glanced at between 2005 and 2009.

John’s Season Preview

Welcome to my third annual game by game preview for Orange::44. I've actually had surprisingly good foresight the last two years, particularly last year getting everything but the last two regular season games correct. I'm good at bullshitting, which I guess is why I'm a good lawyer. That, and that top-notch SU College of Law education! At any rate, here's the Official JBren Picks for 2014:

Syracuse vs. Villanova: By most accounts, the Wildcats are one of the best teams in the Football Championship Division. In fact, that is what prompted their plan to move up to FBS to move into the Big East to save the conference. Um, yeah. That worked out. I think this is a great game for Syracuse to begin the season, kind of ease into things. I call an easy win for the Orange.

Syracuse @ Central Michigan: Game 2 falls on Week 3 of the football season. That Week 2 bye is gonna be a hell of a momentum killer. And to complicate matters, this game falls on Brian's wedding day, so our ability to watch it will be hampered. The game's a nooner and the ceremony's at 2:00, so WatchESPN will only get us so far. I see some Matrimony Magic and see another Orange victory.

Syracuse vs. Maryland: Non-conference match-up. The Terps have left the friendly confines of the ACC for the wretched wasteland of the Big Ten. I normally wouldn't say that, but this league also thought it smart to invite Rutgers, so. Anyway. Randy Edsall had better luck against Syracuse with UConn. The Dome crowd won't care which squad he's coaching, the hate will be all the same. And the result will be the same as last year: Syracuse wins.

Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (at MetLife Stadium): I'll be making the trip down to East Rutherford because SU SUckered me into buying the 2-game package when I bought the Penn State tickets last year. But that's fine, because playing Notre Dame is always fun. Especially this Notre Dame team, ripe with academic fraud. These seem to be two programs going in opposite directions, so unless Syracuse gets cocky, I think another victory is at hand.

Syracuse vs. Louisville: Welcome to the ACC, Cardinals! Now, you're familiar with Syracuse, and you're also familiar with the Carrier Dome. But you don't know what it's like to play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on a Friday night. That doesn't matter, because you're probably gonna win. You don't know how much I want to pick Syracuse to win this, but I just can't. Even with the recent news that DeVante Parker will probably still be out for this game with a foot injury.

Syracuse vs. Florida State: If I'm right, Syracuse enters this game 4-1. If my heart wins out over my gut on the Louisville game, the Orange are a perfect 5-0 playing the defending National Champions. Either way, leave it to Syracuse to spoil its own Homecoming, because that's what we do. A win over the Seminoles just isn't gonna happen, folks.

Syracuse @ Wake Forest: I'm just spitballing here, but I don't think Wake's going to be any good this year. I'm basing this on absolutely nothing. I lie. They're gonna be terrible. Everybody else thinks so too. So this would be an epic loss for Syracuse. But we don't live in that world. Another Orange win in the Tar Heel state.

Syracuse @ Clemson: This seems like a good game for "Two lies and a truth" (because that's how I want to play it). Terrel Hunt throws for four touchdowns. Dabo Swinney punches Scott Shafer in the face. Clemson beats Syracuse.

Syracuse vs. NC State: News alert: I'm not going to a home game in the Dome. I know, I know. I made it down to Raleigh for this game last year, so cut me some slack. Besides, I'll be in Eugene to see Stanford at Oregon which, come on, will probably be a more exciting game than this. That said, I think the Wolfpack finds a way to lose to the Orange again, just like last year. Hashtag #bowleligible. I hope I'll be able to catch this on WatchESPN while I'm tailgating outside Autzen Stadium with a mascot based on Donald Duck while wearing a bunch of crazy, overpriced Nike apparel.

Syracuse vs. Duke: I'm gonna be all sorts of jet-lagged for this game. Duke football? This is a thing? Evidently, yeah. The Blue Devils will be coming off a trip to Pittsburgh, and Syracuse gets the advantage of playing at home. For that reason, I slightly favor the Orange, but this is just as much a toss-up in my mind as the Louisville game.

Syracuse @ Pittsburgh: The past two seasons, Pitt has played at the Carrier Dome. An unintended consequence of conference realignment, I suppose. Brian and I actually saw the last, miserable game Syracuse played at Heinz Field. I distinctly remember how disgusted I felt walking away from watching a team that had essentially given up. This year will be different, though. Syracuse will be coming off a much-needed bye week, and is a much better squad than that 2011 team. And then somehow, the Panthers will win. Sorry.

Syracuse @ Boston College: Hello, annual rivalry game to end the regular season! How's it going? Thanks, I'm good too. Instead of Black Friday shopping (ha, as if I ever do that) I'll be trekking from Elmira to Boston so that I can go to Chestnut Hill and tailgate in a parking garage. It'll be like 2004 Diamond Ferry all over again! Syracuse won that game, and Syracuse will win this game. That's just how the pumpkin pie crumbles.


Coach Shafer says 8 wins. John Brennan says 8 wins. I don't know if his considers a bowl victory or is just regular season. Either way, I'm seeing this as a successful football season, and definitely one that makes the ACC and hopefully the rest of the country respect Syracuse football again.

So there you have it. Both of us pick an 8-4 season for the Orange. We differ on the wins, but we agree on the result. John will be in the Dome on Friday. I'll be in the home office. We'll both be watching. We're back for the year and it feels great. Stay tuned for all the usual previews and recaps for each game as well. Of course you can always get John and I on Twitter as well.

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2014 NCAA Lacrosse Bracket Picks


May Madness reigns again!
For the first time 18 teams headed into the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. Two teams have already been sent home with Air Force defeating Richmond in their first year competing in Division 1, and Bryant edged out Siena for the right to take on Syracuse this weekend. With the expansion and conference realignment in lacrosse, the expansion of the tournament was necessary and I think they did it in a good way as well, sending the lowest ranked automatic qualifiers to the play in. But there is much more to dissect. This weekend will be chock-full of great lacrosse action. Get to a TV if you can. The full schedule of times and channels for the entire tournament are here. John and my brackets are below.




John picks Syracuse to win it all. I picked Duke to repeat. We both have Duke playing Syracuse in the National Championship. Unlike the NCAA Basketball Tournament, these games could go either way, so we both may end up way off when the Memorial Day Weekend rolls around. Leave your picks in the comment section. Either way, there will be some really great lacrosse to watch. And check out our friends at College Crosse for a ton of Tournament coverage. Check back here for Syracuse recaps. Go Orange!

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Lacrosse is Still a Thing!

It's turned out to be a heck of a season for the Orange

This blog has -- unintentionally -- neglected any coverage of the 2014 Syracuse men's lacrosse season. We hope you've gotten all your lax knowledge from the founder of this site, Matt Glaude, who runs College Crosse. But we've provided our share of coverage here traditionally, so it's time to play some catch-up.

The regular season started on Monday, February 10, as Siena visited the Carrier Dome. An easy 19-7 win for the Orange. The following Sunday, then-#10 Albany came to town, and this was my first in-person look at the 2014 squad. I remembered seeing some of the same issues that plagued the team last year: namely, faceoffs. "It's going to be a long year," I thought. The biggest problems with not winning faceoffs: the opponent controlling time of possession; and rapid-fire scores digging yourself into a deep hole. This game against the Great Danes went into overtime, and Syracuse was able to earn a win.

The next Saturday, Syracuse hosted its first ever ACC lacrosse game, as Maryland came to town. The Orange only managed eight goals, and was doubled-up by the Terps 16-8. Another loss at Virginia a week later left the Orange at 2-2. However, wins against St. John's in the "Cobb County Lacrosse Classic" (this is a thing?) and an impressive win at Johns Hopkins (#2 at the time) send the 4-2 Orange into a championship rematch against Duke with some momentum. Then the Orange got hit by a train. In what I would probably describe as the worst game of the year, Syracuse lost to Duke 21-7. How the team would respond to that loss would determine the fate of the season.

You knew from that teaser that something either really good or really bad happened to this team after the loss at Duke. It was good: consecutive wins against Notre Dame, Binghamton, Cornell, North Carolina, and Hobart leading into the ACC tournament. In those wins, Syracuse seemed to play more aggressively on offense, had better success at the faceoff X, and the goal-tandem of Lamolinara and Wardwell seemed to really play well in their "one half only" roles. I was in attendance for the Cornell game, having made the awful trek up Route 13 from Elmira to Ithaca. I was impressed at how much better Syracuse looked, compared to when I saw them in person against Albany. Offense was just clicking that night. I missed the UNC game due to a wedding, but how was that for a finish?!?

That string of impressive victories set Syracuse in a great position heading into the ACC tournament. It was the perfect time to play Duke. It was a game for revenge for last year's National Championship, and a game to right the wrongs from that 21-7 loss -- in fact, the last time Syracuse had lost. For much of the game, Syracuse was playing from behind. Both teams were playing at a high level, but Duke seemed to have the edge. And then the 4th quarter happened. Syracuse crawled back. With 4:29 to play, Syracuse tied the game it had been losing since Duke went up with 44 seconds left in the first half. Duke then answered with a goal with 3:15 left to go back on top. The Blue Devils controlled the ensuing possession, but in a costly mistake played too aggressively instead of stalling, which enabled the Orange to get the ball back with plenty of time. Using most of that time, and seemingly playing for the tie, Syracuse was able to create enough space for Billy Ward to even the score with 15 seconds to go. Then in the best-timed faceoff win of the season, Syracuse gets the ball, has enough time to set up a play, and Dylan Donahue got the game winner with less than a second to go!

It was the best finish to a Syracuse lacrosse game I had seen since the NCAA Championship game against Cornell in Foxboro.

That win -- Syracuse's sixth in a row -- catapulted the Orange into the ACC title game against former Big East foe Notre Dame. That's where the magic ended, as the Irish simply played better and won the title, 15-14.

In an odd schedule, Syracuse closes the regular season Saturday against Colgate for Senior Day in the Carrier Dome. Odd, because there's a final regular season game after the conference tourney. At any rate, we'll be saying goodbye to the seniors, notably Chris Daddio, Billy Ward, Derek Maltz, Scott Loy, Matt Harris, and Dominic Lamolinara. Colgate struggles offensively, a stat that should favor the Orange, especially how they've played as of late.

The NCAA Selection Show is Sunday, May 4 at 9:00pm ET on ESPNU. Most bracketologists have Syracuse near or at the top of their seedings which, due to this year's expanded bracket, means Syracuse likely hosts the winner of a play-in game next weekend. Stay tuned here and at CollegeCrosse.com for coverage and analysis.

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New Uniforms. Again.

Here they are.
Syracuse did what most of us suspected they would do. At the bizarre location of Destiny USA, Syracuse Football made a few announcements. One was that Syracuse was playing a home-and-home with LSU with the Tigers making their way tot he Dome in 2015. I love it. However, the big one was new uniforms from Nike. Did I love them? If you read my Twitter you know I did not.
It seems to happen at least every couple of years in at least one of the three major sports at Syracuse. It was football's turn this week as Nike and the school unveiled their latest set of uniforms for Syracuse Football. Obviously everyone can nitpick and pick various nits, but the overall idea I keep coming back to is fairly obvious. Isn't the nickname for Syracuse athletic teams "Orange"? Why yes, I think it is. No team, even Tennessee and Texas, are more closely identified with the color than Syracuse. Much like Alabama and the Crimson Tide, Syracuse has a color in their nickname. You can see from the photo above, there isn't a whole lot of orange on any of these uniforms. If you look at the full gallery here of all the designs there are orange pants and there are orange jerseys, but we didn't see them yesterday. I imagine they will make an appearance during a big game, and be sold in a store near you, but otherwise they are a mystery. I'm not a big fan of the font choice on the numbers. I HATE white helmets. I HATE gray jerseys even more. No team should wear gray ever. Not even as an alternate. You should have white for the road, your main home jersey and then your other color if you have one that isn't white. Anyway, none of that matters. Apparently "recruits love them". But this is one mile down the slippery slope to Oregon / Maryland territory. There's a reason people consider certain looks classics. I don't think this look 20 years down the line will be considered one. Then again, we'll probably have another redesign in 2-3 years anyway. So I guess while the Syracuse Orange are on the field playing football not wearing orange, I'll just wear an orange t-shirt or the same McNabb era jersey I've had since I got to Syracuse in 2001. As worn as it is.

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