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North Carolina State Quick Predictions

Thursday Night Lights after a bye week on National TV.
After a nice bye week, the Syracuse Orange travel down to North Carolina to take on the Wolfpack of NC State. Both teams are at a critical point in their season. Can Syracuse pick up a nice road win in the ACC on national TV?
Syracuse headed into this game with a few fleeting, but slightly concerning questions about the health of QB Tommy DeVito. However, good news is he practiced this week and will be starting the game tonight, albeit with a little extra padding around his torso. Either way, he's ready to take on the new starting QB of NC State in Bailey Hockman, who is starting after coming in late against Florida State, throwing one TD and 0 INTs. He apparently gives NC State a better passing option, but that means he's going to be susceptible to pocket pressure. If the Syracuse pass rush is able to get at him, or cause him to rush or panic a few times, the defense can take advantage. NC State is hosting a White Out tonight, with fans and uniforms being white for NC State. However, it is the start of their fall break, and being a large commuter school, it is doubtful there's a true student section, even on a nice Thursday night. Initially this game was virtually a toss up, but I was going to give the edge to NC State due to the fact they're home. But because of a new starting QB, as well as the fact that the crowd, while excited, will not be the level of a full student body, I'm taking the Orange in a tight one. Syracuse over NC State 34 to 24.
This game is available nationally on ESPN at 8:00pm. Since this is a Thursday I'll be in the home office from front to back, enjoying the game with you all. John will be out carousing in the first half, but will return home for the 2nd. Risky move, I know. Either way, have fun and GO ORANGE. And since it's the Thursday night ESPN crew, #ForTheBrand.

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Holy Cross Quick Predictions

Welcome to Worcester. $1.25 Bishop.
Syracuse got back on the right track last week, with a nice breakout for Tommy DeVito and the offense putting the ball into the end zone. Syracuse now has FCS Holy Cross coming in. Which means the offense should keep scoring and improving for another week.
Holy Cross comes in 1-2 on the year, losing to Navy in their opener 45-7, and then losing to powerhouse Yale last week. But they are first in the Patriot League, so that's something. Interestingly, they play both Syracuse and Georgetown in football this season. Anyway, not much analysis is necessary in this one. Moe Neal should run for a few big runs. Touchdown Tommy should earn a few more. We saw Syracuse get the tight ends involved in the offense more last week, so that should continue this week as it won't be as necessary to use them to block. Syracuse should roll fairly large. 51 to 17.
This game is again available nationally on the ACC Network at the ol' nooner slot. John is in the Dome. I'm listed as "Out" on the injury report. As per usual. GO ORANGE!

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Western Michigan Quick Predictions

Syracuse can't have a hangover after Clemson again.
Syracuse, not too surprisingly, lost to #1 Clemson last week. While a sold out Carrier Dome would have loved the upset, it was not meant to be. But that means Syracuse can't have a hangover and they need to get another win.
Western Michigan and Syracuse opened the season last year in Michigan with a shootout. This year, Syracuse is obviously without Eric Dungey, but Tommy Touchdown is equally as capable of making big passes. And the good news is, Western Michigan doesn't have as good of a running back or secondary as Clemson. The bottom line is, of course, this game may be close, but Syracuse should pull away in the 2nd half. Syracuse, despite some offensive line troubles, and a less gaudy offensive putout as last season, shouldn't lose to a MAC team, despite #MACTION. Tim Lester can dial up what he wants, but Syracuse will, as always, have to limit big plays. I'm taking the Orange in this one though. 31 to 24.
This game is available on the ACC Network at Nooner. I'll again be watching after broadcast, but John will be in the house. Syracuse should enjoy a nice home win, despite the crowd not being as big as last week. Nooner doesn't help, but the higher amount of season tickets purchased  should still make this an exciting home atmosphere. Have fun, and GO ORANGE!

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Clemson Quick Predictions

It's up to Syracuse to stop Clemson from running away with another title.
The Dome is sold out. Tons of alumni are back on campus. It's HOMECOMING, and Syracuse is facing the #1 team in the country. And the Orange have been the only team to prove they can even challenge Clemson the last few years besides Alabama (and Pittsburgh that one time). Will Syracuse be victorious at home again?
Syracuse comes in after a dreadful defensive performance at Maryland, allowing 63 points. Syracuse couldn't seem to stop a Pop Warner team last week from moving the ball. The main battle will be the defensive pass rushing vs. the offensive lines. Syracuse has shown their offensive line to be iffy. And Syracuse was able to compete last season against Clemson by getting to the Quarterback and knocking Trevor Lawrence out of the game for Clemson. Syracuse should be able to pressure the quarterback a little but, but the question is then if Lawrence is able to make a throw, can Syracuse cover the receivers and prevent the big chunk plays they allowed at Maryland. Syracuse should actually keep this game close going into the half. But this year is not last year. While DeVito is a good quarterback, he needs to play like he did at UNC last year, making big plays. He has to channel his inner Eric Dungey and just be a playmaker and keep the chains moving. Syracuse doesn't need to have a track meet to win, but it needs to be pretty close. And while the Dome will clearly give them the advantage with the big crowd, Clemson should be too much this time. Syracuse will fade in the 2nd half, keeping the score more respectable than last week, but still lose a game to the clear frontrunner to win the Natty Champ. Clemson over Syracuse 45 to 32.
This game is available nationally on ABC at 7:30pm. John is in the Dome. I'm out of commission again this Saturday. As always, GO ORANGE and enjoy Homecoming!

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Maryland Quick Predictions

A turtle is about as intimidating as a big orange.
Syracuse had a flat start on offense against Liberty in Week 1. But that was Week 1. Can Syracuse come out throwing and dominating a team on the road to start the year 2-0?
Tommy DeVito really looked like he had some Week 1 yips. He really didn't have any pressure on him coming in to try and win against UNC last year. But this year, it's the DeVito show. He knows that. And after his first win, and another week of game prep, he should come out firing on the first couple of series, backed up by some solid runs, and I think Syracuse will be off and running. Maryland had a huge game against an HBCU last week, and won by over 70. But anyone that is a D1 FBS team should have been able to do that. Maryland has a lot to prove this week, and the Syracuse pass rush will be a lot bigger and tougher than Howard was. No chance Maryland will be ready to block everyone they need to block. While this game will probably be close than Syracuse fans will like, this should be a solid win to set up next week's showdown. And no, I don't think Syracuse will be looking past this one, like they may have in the past. Syracuse over the Terps 34 to 24.
This game is available on ESPN, the flagship, at nooner. Both John and I will be watching, however I'll have to bag out of the 2nd half. Either way, I expect a nice win today. And as always, GO ORANGE.

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Liberty Quick Predictions

The "Flames" of a million prayer candles still won't make Jesus love this school.

The 2019 Syracuse Football Orange open the season on the road, down in Lynchburg, VA against the Liberty Flames. Liberty is just moving up to FBS eligibility and has new Head Coach Hugh Freeze.

Let's get a few things out of the way. Basically non-football related. First, this university was founded by Jerry Falwell, Sr. Here's a small sample of some really awesome, open-minded, tolerant, welcoming things he's said:
AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being.
The whole global warming thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability.
There's been a concerted effort to steal Christmas.
I think the Moslem faith teaches hate.
He's been dead for a bit, but luckily his son, Jr., took over as president of this fine institution of learning. Here's a gem from him:
In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment. He cannot be bought; he's not a puppet on a string like many other candidates... who have wealthy donors as their puppet masters.
I'm not ripping on anyone's religion or beliefs, and am a Catholic myself. I'm just calling out blatant hypocrisy when I see it. This thing only exists for profit (not to be confused with prophet) and I just can't imagine that the Jesus in the Bible would ever sign on to much of anything either of these Falwell dudes have soapboxed.

Whether or not Syracuse should be playing this school is a discussion to be had in a different forum, though I know there are several Syracuse fans very salty about this. With valid points, to be sure, but there are lots of schools out there with other opinions we might not like, and quite frankly Syracuse doesn't have a squeaky clean history (even in recent memory) with what should seem to be common sense human decency issues, so who am I to really cast a stone here?

And so, onto football. Liberty competes as an independent, and as it enters its first year of FBS eligibility, it faces some huge hurdles. QB transfer Malik Willis just learned he will not be eligible this season and has to sit out, so that leaves the Flames to start Stephen Calvert. Willis was the "dual-threat" quarterback, while Calvert is the traditional pocket passer. Now that Syracuse knows what it's facing, it'll be easier to prepare and probably easier to defend, though Calvert had some decent numbers throwing downfield last year. However, he's prone to interceptions, and this veteran Syracuse defense is one that loves to create turnovers. On offense for Syracuse, Tommy DeVito inherits the reins from Eric Dungey. NJTom has a completely different style than Eric, so we won't see a ton of QB runs or scrambles or hurdling or clotheslines, but instead we'll see a gunslinger who can get the ball downfield accurately and has some talented receivers to help him out. And with a great running game led by Moe Neal, the Orange offense has the ability to keep the defense on its heels and run up the score. The Syracuse O-line is young and its ability to hold for passes or block for runs will really be the the difference. With better talent there, I see Syracuse winning 53-17, blowing by the Vegas spread.

The game is exclusive to the ESPN+ subscription-only service at 6:00pm EDT. Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze might be watching that way, if his immune system can't handle people yet and he's coaching from a hotel room. Brian and I will both be north of the border and listening to the dulcet tones of Matt Park on the radio call via SiriusXM 203 or other app type things. If we happen to not be driving, you can catch us on the tweets @jbren and @BH_Orange44. It's okay to be giddy like a kid on Christmas morning: GO ORANGE!

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The 2019 Orange::44 Football Season Preview

The season with the most expectations in a long time is about to begin.
Syracuse is back, which means Orange::44 fires back up for the upcoming football season. John and I give our season previews, just in time for the season to be back in session.
Brian's Season Preview
The Orange earned their first ten win season since 2001 last year. Now the Orange are back on the radar. No team will be overlooking Syracuse this season. But Syracuse has a chance to really make an impression on College Football. One year can be dismissed as a fluke (not that anyone is doubting Dino Babers at this point), but two years in a row proves actual success and improvement. Now Syracuse embarks on their most important season in decades. How will they do? Here we go.
Syracuse at Liberty
Liberty is an independent in FBS. They are also a school founded by a terrible person and continues to be run by terrible people preaching terrible things. Syracuse rolls to open the season.
Syracuse at Maryland
Now we start to get serious. Syracuse has their first challenge of the year. While Syracuse will be in their second game on the road, this game is going to be like the Western Michigan game last season. Just scores on scores. Ultimately, Syracuse should end up winning by a couple TDs however. I like the Orange to enter their big matchup with Clemson, much like Clemson, undefeated.
Syracuse vs. Clemson
I hesitate to predict this game because of how big of a deal it is. Probably the biggest game at Syracuse since 1998. The Dome is a sellout. And likely (doubtful Clemson loses to Georgia Tech or Texas A&M) #1 undefeated defending National Champions. Syracuse has obviously played Clemson tough the last two seasons, winning in the last Dome match. And frankly, I do think this game will be close again. However, due to the fact Touchdown Tommy will be in his first season as the starter, and this is a massive game, I just think he'll make one mistake and that will be the difference. Again, Syracuse will be respectable, and put in a good showing, but I think they'll come up just short again sadly.
Syracuse vs. Western Michigan
Last year Syracuse won in a shootout at Kalamazoo to start the season. The result should be the same in the Carrier Dome this year, no matter what happens the week before. You know, unless the whole team gets injured or something. This will again probably be high scoring, but because this won't be the first game of the season, the defense should be a little more ready to stop the Bronco's offense. I expect Syracuse to bounce back after the Clemson game.
Syracuse vs. Holy Cross
Welcome to Worcester. Dollah 25, Bishop. But that will be a loss for the Crusaders in Syracuse as this is the FCS game on the schedule.
Syracuse at NC State
This game will be the most interesting on the schedule. The only Thursday night tilt on the season for Syracuse, NC State has some talent and looking for a breakout year. Syracuse should be well prepared for this one however, as they will be coming off a bye week (#BeatTheBye). This should be another close game, but just due to the fact Syracuse is coming off the bye, I'll take the Orange in this one. But don't be surprised of Syracuse drops this one though.
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh
Syracuse needs redemption after losing in OT to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field last season. The good news is Syracuse has played well against Pittsburgh at home the last couple of years. Syracuse should have taken care of business, but Eric Dungey had one of his worst outing in the last couple of years. It almost seemed like they were running in mud when there wasn't. Either way, no let down this year. The Dome should be rocking for this one.
Syracuse at Florida State
Syracuse kind of announced their presence with authority last year by crushing FSU in the Dome. This year, Syracuse heads down to Tallahassee and will earn their first win there. FSU is still rebuilding, and despite the talent on the team, Syracuse should be able to again get to the quarterback against virtually the same offensive line, and they will come away with another solid win. 
Syracuse vs. Boston College
It's a bit surprising that this game isn't the weekend after Thanksgiving to finish the regular season. But after Syracuse finished an exclamation point on last season by finishing off a dejected Boston College at home, Syracuse looks to keep BC at around seven wins only again. AJ Dillon will again be solid for BC, and should dominate Syracuse at times, the other ten players for BC won't have the same impact. I think Syracuse wins this one at home.
Syracuse at Duke
It's odd Syracuse is playing Duke and it isn't in basketball. Duke has to replace their QB who was drafted pretty high in the NFL draft and should take a step back on offense. Despite that though, I just think at this point in the season, Syracuse will have some injuries and be a bit ground down from the wear and tear of the season. I just think at this point they'll be due for a let down and/or a reality check and show that they aren't unbeatable, and Syracuse will drop this road game.
Syracuse at Louisville
Louisville won't be dramatically better this season despite having a new coach. Syracuse should roll in another big scoring effort from Syracuse on the road, bouncing back from the Duke stumble.
Syracuse vs. Wake Forest
Syracuse has had some funny games versus Wake Forest at Wake. However, this game isn't being played in North Carolina. And even then, Syracuse poured it on in the second half to end up beating Wake by a significant margin on the road. I think Syracuse will do the same this year, pounding the running game and pass rushing the hell out of Wake's offense. Syracuse finishes the regular season on a high note and earns a win on Senior Day.
Syracuse is in line to prove that last season wasn't a fluke. Syracuse is a legitimate contender in the ACC, and even on the national scene, even if the majority of national media aren't buying in yet. Syracuse will have another solid season and the fans shouldn't be disappointed.

John's Season Preview

Syracuse At Liberty

Syracuse doesn't usually open the season on the road, but here we are. Liberty is a growing program, and things were looking up with new head coach Hugh Freeze. I'll refrain from making a dad joke about Freeze coaching the Flames, because I'm not a dad, and because the guy almost died of a staph infection. Anyway, with all the prep time and talent, Syracuse should cruise in this game to the first win of the season.

Syracuse at Maryland

When is the last time Syracuse opened with two road games? Probably an easy Google search away. This is a game Syracuse should, and probably will, win, but Maryland has some good stuff going for it. After the tragic death of Jordan McNair last year, followed by player transfers and coaching changes, the remaining players are invigorated to show the world how good they are. I think this will be a close game, high scoring, and Orange victorious.

Syracuse vs. Clemson

Home opener, Homecoming, National Champs, probably Gameday, National primetime TV. This has all the makings for an upset over Clemson. But it also has all the makings of Syracuse fans overhyping a situation, overhyping the talent level, and us going in expecting a win. Could it happen? Of course. Syracuse beat Clemson in the Dome two years ago, and probably should have won at Death Valley last year. So yeah, it can definitely happen, and if the defense is playing as well as we think it can, and Tommy Devito is beast mode, then there's a great shot at a win. I just think Clemson score too much early on for Syracuse to crawl back.

Syracuse vs. Western Michigan

We've seen a lot of Western Michigan in the last few years. The Broncos have seen success under head coach Tim Lester, who we all know pretty well. Despite Syracuse winning last season's game, WMU finished 7-5 and lost the Potato Bowl in blowout fashion to BYU. Nonetheless, with most of last year's starters returning, the Broncos have the ability to win some big games this year with depth and talent. They lost a bit at WR, but a healthy QB in Jon Wassink should make up for it. Could be another close game for Syracuse, but I like the Orange in this at home.

Syracuse vs. Holy Cross

With the Clemson game being a virtual sell out, we'll see a drop off in attendance for the Western Michigan game, and then we'll see a cliff for FCS Holy Cross. I hope I'm wrong. A win here could leave the Orange sitting at 4-1 at the end of September, which is great to think about. A loss here would probably lead to Syracuse cancelling football.

Syracuse at NC State

I have this game circled as the most important game of the season for Syracuse. Assuming the 4-1 record going into this, Syracuse also has a bye week prior to this Thursday night primetime tilt, there is no reason the Orange shouldn't be well prepared. They'll have to be, because I see the Wolfpack as a very similar team. They, too, have a new QB. The biggest question as of this writing is, who? Advantage Syracuse, who knows its new QB is Jersey Shore Tommy. No matter though, I'm predicting very wet and messy conditions on this Thursday night in Raleigh, which will feature the running game and ultimately favor NC State. Syracuse loses on the road. Why is that important? Because a loss here gets a very important stretch of games off to a bad start; but a win likely puts Syracuse at 5-1 heading into that important stretch with momentum and just one win away from bowl eligibility. So, I hope I'm wrong on this game pick.

Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh

Syracuse returns to the Dome on a Friday night to face longtime rival Pitt. Another primetime national TV game. Plus, you know how Syracuse likes to play well at home on Friday nights. Did you know that Wikipedia lists Pitt's football rival as Notre Dame? Not West Virginia. Not Penn State. Notre Dame. Thank you, open source editing! Anyway, Pat Narduzzi can get the most out of his players, as we saw last season when a mediocre Panthers team won the mediocre ACC Coastal Division. They'll be a little young at running back, which will probably lead to passing more. A great Syracuse pass rush should neutralize that, leading to an Orange win.

Syracuse at Florida State

Some one of these years, I want to see Syracuse vs. FSU in Tallahassee. This year will not be that year, although I will be in Georgia while this game is played. We've all seen the Seminoles drop off the last couple years, but they look to be improved this year. They still have a QB competition with just over a week before the season starts, and just announced they're ditching the turnover backpack, because gimmicks don't win you football games. I like a healthy Syracuse team's chances in this one, so presuming health, I call a victory on the road.

Syracuse vs. Boston College

Why is Boston College playing against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on November 2? Somebody tell the ACC schedule makers that November 2 is not Thanksgiving weekend. We've been through this before. Anyway, it's important for Syracuse to win this one before the 2-city road trip in the heart of November. But BC is pretty good at football these days, and historically likes to make me angry, so the Orange finds a way to lose this and make me angry.

Syracuse at Duke

'Sup, Durham? This is one of those rare Syracuse at Duke football games. Duke football isn't the pushover it used to be in the past, but it's not on the level of Duke basketball or Duke lacrosse. Very in depth analysis, I know. The Blue Devils open the season against Alabama (!) and will be replacing New York Giants QB Daniel Jones. I see them being strong and experienced on the defense, so if Devito & crew aren't playing well, this could go south real fast. But I think they will be playing well, and Syracuse will win.
Syracuse at Louisville
Kentucky in November not ideal for a Bourbon Trail trip, as opposed to, say, September. So maybe in 2 years, the scheduling people can throw me a bone? Anyway, here's what I think of the Cardinals: I don't like them. They're, uh, "rebuilding," and this seems like a winnable game for Syracuse, so let's go with that.

Syracuse vs. Wake Forest

Our traditional Thanksgiving weekend game! The Demon Deacons visit the Dome to end the regular season, and both of your Orange::44 curators will be in attendance. With it probably not being great tailgating weather, we'll probably try to get Club44 passes and might end up forgetting a football game is happening. However, this game is important to impress bowl selection committees of your worth heading into the post-season. Dino Babers isn't going to let this team stumble into December/January, so I see him figuring out how to win this game.

I just predicted that Syracuse goes 9-3. Those three losses are games that Syracuse could absolutely win, though, so who knows, crazy things could happen. One thing I know, though, is long gone are the days of doom and gloom in these previews.

And there you have it. John is picking 9-3. As per my #BRAND, I'm slightly more optimistic, despite me selling only a Bowl Game last year, predicting only six wins. I'm going 10-2, with a pretty good Bowl Game coming. Neither of us are predicting a massive let down compared to last season. I'm thinking we're back. Stay tuned this year for the sporadic coverage you've come to love and respect. We'll see you out there and, as always, GO ORANGE!

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Baylor - Syracuse NCAA Tournament 1st Round Preview

Syracuse students agree: Now the season really starts.
Syracuse has played Baylor twice in the past, and have beaten them twice. Syracuse will take on the highlighter clad team from Texas in Salt Lake City in the First Round of the NCAAs. In a pretty interesting 8/9 matchup, Syracuse will look to advance to take on 1 Seed Gonzaga. This is obviously going to be the battle of the zones, with Baylor imploring a 1-3-1, and you know how SU is rolling. So obviously the team that has better Zone offense will win the game. Baylor is a tough rebounding team, but Syracuse is a taller team, so this could be an fairly even matchup on the boards. Baylor is lead by transfer Makai Mason, who averages 14.6ppg. He's had a nagging injury, but has come on strong the last couple of weeks again. If Syracuse can contain him, and really gain a rebounding advantage, Syracuse should be able to pull away in the 2nd half. Especially if any of the shooters for Syracuse get in rhythm. This game on paper will be close, but I actually think that Syracuse will have the defensive advantage with their length, but also should shoot the ball over the zone better. If Syracuse can box out, they should hold Baylor at bay. Either way, with or without Frank Howard, I'm taking the Orange in this game by eight. This game is available nation wide on TruTV / March Madness On Demand at approximately 9:57pm*. Both John and I will be watching. It's March, which means now the real games begin. LET'S GO ORANGE!

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