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Central Michigan Quick Predictions

Very creative logo'ing.
Syracuse has had one full week to put last week's horrible performance behind them. They now take on a team that, on paper, looks like it is beatable. But, then again, so did Middle Tennessee. Can Syracuse regroup from last week and put together a complete offensive effort like we saw in Week 1?
This game will be interesting. Syracuse looks to be the tougher defense, however QB Shane Morris has thrown 6TD to only 1INT and has racked up 693 passing yards. He dismantled Kansas last week. The rushing game, not so much. Sounds a little like what we saw from MTSU. Syracuse really needs to be able to stop the passing game from the Chippewas. If they don't, and Syracuse has trouble moving the ball, it will be trouble. This game will come down to the Syracuse defense. Either they will get the job done, or CMU will do just enough to hang on. Because I think Syracuse should be able to move the ball better than last week. But Syracuse doesn't want to get into a shootout. Syracuse should edge this one out, but there are more questions than answers from Syracuse due to the loss last weekend. Either way, Syracuse should pull this one out. I'll take the Orange 33 to 27.
This game is again available only on the ACC Network Extra online, and the ACC Website at 3:30pm. John will be at the game. I'll have a few games of my own but I should be able to watch a good chuck of it on the road. We'll see you out there. Hopefully for a victory.

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That vacant look is what Syracuse fans had when the clock hit 0:00.
A disaster. That's the only word to describe the game against Middle Tennessee State. Syracuse was unable to beat a team they were favored ten points over. Syracuse loses to one of the "easy" games on the schedule. You know, BECAUSE MOST OF THE SCHEDULE IS A LOT MORE DIFFICULT. Syracuse loses by a touchdown to Middle Tennessee State and Scott Shafer 30 to 23.
Syracuse knew what kind of defense was coming, and Syracuse was unable to protect Eric Dungey (26/42, 180yds, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 rush TD). He was hit a lot and sacked 6 times. The passing game, and the rushing game never really found a rhythm on the day. And any time Syracuse got some momentum, there was a flag or dropped pass. Syracuse had a lot of drops, and from some of their top talent. No excuses. All problems. Syracuse also did very little to capitalize on the three turnovers from MTSU.
Syracuse did an adequate job stopping the run, but they didn't do much about the passing attack. And Syracuse even managed to give up a couple big plays. Four receivers had long passes of 26 yards or more. While Syracuse did fairly well on third downs (3/12) and stopped them on their one fourth down attempt, they had more offensive yards on the day.
Special Teams
Syracuse played a good field position game, but they missed a field goal, and allowed a couple long returns from MTSU.
Not really any offensive adjustments, or calling plays to try and get the blitzes to stop. An average day at best.
C (2.0)
This was brutal as the fast passing attack of Syracuse was assaulted by blitzes (which we knew was coming) and they were helpless to stretch the field and make plays (which we didn't know was coming). Syracuse played their worst game in a couple years in terms of the competition they faced. Might as well have been losing to Temple. 
Syracuse takes a devastating blow to their campaign to be Bowl Eligible. 6 wins at this point seems like it would take a monumental upset or minor miracle. Syracuse needs to rebound and get it together against Central Michigan this coming weekend if they hope to improve on their win totals from last season. Ouch.

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Cue the Crying Child...

That wasn't fun for anyone, but Scott Shafer.


Middle Tennessee Quick Predictions

Hello again, Scott.
Syracuse did what they needed to last week against their 1-AA opener. This week, a mid-major comes in, but it is an FBS school. And on top of that, Scott Shafer, former Syracuse Head Coach, is coming in as Defensive Coordinator for the Blue Raiders (the same mascot as my high school). Can Syracuse impress again?
Syracuse is favored in this game. And rightly so. Syracuse should have more talent on both sides of the ball. Syracuse was able to stop the run last week from CConn, and the same thing should happen this week, as MTSU couldn't get anything going on the ground in their opener against Vanderbilt. That will make MTSU a bit one dimensional on offense. However, MTSU is also working with a pretty green offensive line as well. Syracuse should be able to get to the QB, and we can all just hope the safeties play a decent game. On the other side of the ball, Shafer will most likely bring the same base defense with a lot of blitz packages. Syracuse's offensive line held up well last week. They should do about the same this week. Look for Dungey to carve up some decent passing numbers again today. The biggest question will be the Special Teams play of Syracuse. They missed an XP last week, and the punt and kick returning was something to be desired. If Syracuse can lock down special teams, I think Syracuse can roll today. I like the Orange in this one, obviously. The question is by how much. I think Syracuse will do well. And while I appreciate the effort Scott Shafer gave to the Orange, and it's sad it didn't work out, Syracuse is going to put work in today. The experts are picking Syracuse by 10. I think it will be more. I'll take the Orange, 34 to 17.
This game is available internet only again at 3:30pm on WatchESPN. I'll be in the home office. John is at the game. Thanks again Scott, but sorry. GO ORANGE!

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Eric Dungey picked up right where he left off, playing very well.
Syracuse has a very tough schedule. They need to win the games that are winable. And starting the year again with an FCS school is winable. Syracuse did the job, and started the season 1-0, in a convincing victory that was never in doubt. Syracuse rolled over Central Connecticut (CConn), 50 to 7.
Syracuse's passing attack showed no slowing down from last season. Granted, Syracuse was playing against smaller pass defenders than they will be seeing the rest of the year. But, it was a good day for Eric Dungey (28/36, 328yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 2 Rush TD), who was out early in the 4th quarter. Syracuse spread the rushing attack around, but Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal are clearly getting a good chuck of the work, with Markenzy Pierre right behind. And Steve Ishmael and Ervin Philips can grab almost any ball near them.
Syracuse surprisingly did very well on pass coverage in breaking up passes, as well as making difficult tackles in space. However, Syracuse allowed some fairly big runs between the tackles from CConn. And those athletes aren't the level they will see in the coming weeks. That is a huge red flag. Either way, they only allowed one score on the day and only allowed two plays of 20 or more yards. Alarm bells may ring in the future, but for now you have to like how they handled the outmatched CConn offense.
Special Teams
Cole Murphy missed an XP, and Syracuse really wasn't ever able to get a punt return going. But again, they were against CConn, so you gotta live with that.
No real hard decisions to make in this one. Syracuse called a confident passing attack, and mixed in runs. Babers lost a challenge, but they probably should have won it as it was clear the officials blew the ball dead when there was a clear fumble. I can't hate the clear message they have clearly given to Dungey all off season to be a bigger pocket presence. It has paid off.
B (3.18)
Syracuse did exactly what they needed to. They only let CConn score once, and they hung 50 on them. Syracuse marched down and scored on their first drive, after a few big plays and only a few minutes of game time. This game was never in doubt. Against an FCS school, it's exactly what you need to do. 1-0 and on to the next one.
Syracuse now has a long week, and they have Middle Tennessee coming in on Saturday. Scott Shafer makes his return to Syracuse. They are paying $1 Million for MTSU to come in, so Syracuse needs to win. For a lot of reasons.


Cue the Smiling Child...

Syracuse wins their season opener, so we get a happy child.


Central Connecticut Quick Predictions

Blue Devils? Real creative CConn.
The 2017 season is here. And Syracuse has their (definitely now) traditional 1-AA (or FCS if you're modern) season opener. CConn comes in looking to make some waves. Can Syracuse again start the season perfect?
CConn comes in off a fairly uneventful season. They went 2-9 overall, 1-5 in conference. More importantly, they were 0-6 on the road. Junior QB Jacob Dolegala did pretty well last year. But the team had trouble stopping teams from passing on them. And with Syracuse running the no huddle, something I'm sure they don't see executed well very often, Syracuse should be able to blitz them and have a big time air raid kind of day. As with most FCS teams, they will probably find some success with trick plays or just sheer ballsy play calling as losing this game has no consequences for CConn. But the talent on Syracuse will be too much. This isn't a very good 1-AA team that could make a go of an upset against Syracuse. SU over CConn 51 to 13.
This game is available on the ACC Digital Network (WatchESPN) at 7:00pm. Internet only baby! John will be in the Dome. I'll be watching on my phone while I have a football draft. Football is back. GO ORANGE!

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The 2017 Orange::44 Football Season Preview

It's another year. So yeah, we're excited.
Another year. Another tough schedule for Syracuse. Typical. Either way, we're ready for the 2017 Football Season. Enjoy!
Brian's Season Preview
Syracuse vs. Central Connecticut: 1-AA (FCS) CConn coming into the Dome. And coming in hot. If Syracuse loses this, we're packing it in for the 2017 season. Syracuse takes on their traditional lower division opponent and should roll.
Syracuse vs. Middle Tennessee: Murfreesboro's finest head into Syracuse to take on the Orange and try to avenge the NCAA Basketball Tournament loss from 2016. Also interesting is former Orange Head Coach Scott Shafer is on the staff as D Coordinator. It should be interesting, but Syracuse should pull away in the second half. Especially if Shafer has the same quality of safeties as he did while at Syracuse.
Syracuse vs. Central Michigan: Syracuse has a recent tradition of playing directional Michigan teams. Syracuse has beaten Central Michigan in 2015 and on my wedding day in 2014 at Central Michigan. Syracuse will so the same this year, keeping the winning momentum rolling. And I'm guessing they won't need overtime to do it.
Syracuse at Louisiana State: I'd love to say Syracuse will be in this game, like they were when LSU came into the Dome a couple years ago. But I don't think there is any way Syracuse travels to LSU and gets an upset. Despite the upset last year of VTech, Syracuse just will not be able to handle a blue blood from the SEC like LSU yet. Yet.
Syracuse at North Carolina State: NC State is one of the most schizophrenic teams of the last few seasons. They took eventual Natty Champ Clemson to OT last season, but finished 7-6. This year they should be a better team. And Syracuse has never really had their number. I don't like they have to travel to NC State as well. I'm calling this a loss.
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh: Syracuse's Homecoming Game (go to hell Orange Central) sees an old rival head into the Dome. This game was bonkers last season, seeing Pittsburgh win over Syracuse 76 to 61. That game outscored the SU/Pitt basketball game. Ridiculous. However, I think Syracuse will be a more polished team this season on offense. It just matters if Syracuse can stop Pitt. And Pitt's offense should be weaker this year than it was last season, losing James Conner and starting a transfer QB. I'll take the Orange in a big turning point for the season.
Syracuse vs. Clemson: Did you know, Clemson won the National Championship last season? This begins Syracuse's murders row in the middle of the schedule. Syracuse will be lucky to cover the spread.
Syracuse at Miami: I think Miami is going to be a lot better than people expect. I do know that Syracuse hasn't played Miami in a long time. And this isn't the year Syracuse will shock them.
Syracuse at Florida State: After Syracuse flies back from Miami, they have to turn around and fly back to Florida. Syracuse will again be lucky to cover the spread. FSU is the front running pick to win the ACC.
Syracuse vs. Wake Forest: Since joining the ACC, Syracuse has only lost to Wake Forest once. That was last season at Wake Forest in basically a torrential rain. Syracuse is in the Dome this year. Syracuse will again be better than Wake Forest.
Syracuse at Louisville: Did you see that highlight Louisville had last year in the Dome. ESPN only played it a billion times. Louisville will be very good, lead by Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. He's very good. Syracuse is not winning.
Syracuse vs. Boston College: The ACC decided to move this very important rivalry back to where it belongs: The Saturday after Thanksgiving. Syracuse takes on BC in the Dome. For some reason, despite beating Boston College three out of the last four meetings, people keep picking Syracuse to lose to Boston College. It bugs the hell out of me. I can see you saying that about almost any game before this. But what logic could you possibly use to justify picking BC over Syracuse? It's maddening. Syracuse is winning this one. And if they have five wins before this, guess who's Bowling?
I called four wins for Syracuse last year. They got four wins. I'm calling six wins for Syracuse this year. Will they get 6 and make a Bowl Game? It all depends on if Syracuse gets it done early, and then wins versus Pittsburgh. If Syracuse beats Pitt at home, Syracuse should earn a Bowl Game pending some serious injuries to the team. If they don't, at least the team should get better. And Babers has been recruiting well. I think Syracuse should win more than last year though, and that's good.

John’s Season Preview
Welcome to my sixth annual game by game preview for Orange::44. [I only know it's sixth because this template is a copy & paste job from last year, which claimed to be the fifth, copying the fourth.] Anyway, as per usual, this year's iteration of the Orange carries with it a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns. We're entering Year Two of Dino Babers, and expectations are relatively high -- set by Head Coach himself. I can subscribe to this. Here's my best guess which, at best, will be way off, or at worse might lead us to a bowl game (or maybe that should be reversed?):
Syracuse vs. Central Connecticut: This is the perennial "FCS season opener" which, once again, falls on the Friday night before Labor Day. This should be as much a tradition as BC on the Saturday after Thanksgiving* (*see later...). Anyway, nothing from Connecticut is good. Sports-wise, anyway. This should be a great confidence-builder for the Orange, and I look for Eric Dungey & crew to put up a lot of points. As an added bonus, the forecast temperature in Syracuse is a high of 63, so as opposed to recent season openers, the Dome shouldn't be 109 degrees. My peeps and I will be watching this win from our season seats in 209.
Syracuse vs. Middle Tennessee State: True story: I just drove my sister from Eugene, Oregon to Sebring, Florida. In the process, we (well, I was the only one who) drove through Tennessee, and at one point I saw a sign for Middle Tennessee State. I didn't exit, just made a mental note. This team features Scott Shafer, who had a great tenure at Syracuse as defensive coordinator but floundered as head coach. Back in a role where he can flourish, and knowing how to handle the Dome and the Orange, makes him a tough opponent. But I think I'd take a Dino Babers offense over a Scott Shafer defense. I mean, we have to, right?
Syracuse vs. Central Michigan: Syracuse has a long recent history with directional Michigan schools. It's too bad there aren't schools named after the thumb and mittens (these are real Michigan terms, look it up!). This will be the second straight 3:30pm start for Syracuse, which bodes well for the fan base. Which bodes well for the team. There's no good reason Syracuse doesn't start the season 3-0.
Syracuse at Louisiana State: Yours truly SOOOOOOO wanted to go to this game! I have more vacation time than I can use, it's an easy flight to New Orleans, and, as some of you might remember from 2003, I just wanna go to my room! That might be another story for another time. At any rate, the barrage of murder and attempted murder cases I have pending right now have made this trip impossible for me. I'm super bummed, because this is about the time that Dino Babers says his team should turn the corner and truly be competitive with high caliber teams. Plus, you know, a trip to New Orleans (yeah, I know, LSU is Baton Rouge, but base of operations would be NO). Additionally, when LSU visited Syracuse a couple years ago, I was highly impressed with their fans -- just true football fans, pure, weren't assholes. Plus, I saw a pregnant woman in Faegans in LSU gear drinking O'Doul's. That's dedication to a cause. LSU probably wins this, sinking Syracuse to 3-1, but this would be a signature upset for Dino & the Orange and would likely solidify a Bowl game.
Syracuse at North Carolina State: NCState has been one of those teams on par, or better, than Syracuse the last couple years. After the first four games, where Syracuse should be 3-1, this is a great opportunity for the Orange to really showcase its talent. It's a tough, but winnable, game. This is probably a coin toss, which favors the home team, so I'll give it to NCState. But if Syracuse is coming off a win at LSU, or has played really well there and has momentum, Syracuse has a real shot in this one.
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh: Syracuse's Homecoming. This blog doesn't subscribe to other names for this traditional event. I have a confession: I probably will not be in attendance for this game. I have a cousin getting married, so unless this ends up being an 8:30pmkick or something like that, I have other commitments. That being said, this might be the best game in the Dome this season. Syracuse & Pitt are pretty evenly matched, as they have been in recent years. I don't see a shootout like we saw at Heinz Field last season, but this could be a relatively high scoring and close game. But I think the combination of it being a Syracuse home game, and Homecoming, make it likely that we'll see an Orange victory.
Syracuse vs. Clemson: I'm 35 years old. My hope is that, sometime before I'm 40, Syracuse and Clemson will be a competitive game. Unfortunately, 2017 in the Carrier Dome is not that time. Syracuse goes to 4-3. I will, however, state again that Syracuse seems to work some magic on Friday nights. (See also, the past). I mean, anything could happen. But don't count on it.
Syracuse at Miami: Did you know that Syracuse and Miami used to be in the Big East? Yes, you probably did. Ignorant people don't read this blog. I feel like the Hurricanes have been a solid, but underperforming, squad since joining the ACC. Particularly since Syracuse jumped in. In the Carrier Dome, at this point (given Babers' outlook on his team's progression) I might say Syracuse could win this in the Dome, but at "Hard Rock Stadium" (it'll always be Joe Robbie Stadium, or Land Shark Stadium, to me), the 'Canes probably have this.
Syracuse at Florida State: Coming off a bye week, you might think Syracuse would be in the best position to win this game. And, quite frankly, that's probably the best position they can be in. But, honestly, it probably won't happen. I'm writing this on August 31, before FSU plays Alabama on Saturday. That will be the big test for the Seminoles, obviously, but how they perform in that game might give Dino & his crew an idea on how to best approach this game. Does Syracuse win? Ha. Nope. But this game has competitive potential.
Syracuse vs. Wake Forest: After a month away, Welcome back to the Carrier Dome! Here we are, in November, and who knows where these teams will be. Syracuse will be battle-tested. Wake will need to be healthy and without major suspensions, as they enter the season. Like NCState above, I see this as a coin toss, which would likely favor the home team. I guess that bodes well for the Orange.
Syracuse at Louisville: Without looking it up, I feel like it's been a while since we've seen the Cardinals this late in the season. We all know what happened in this game last year, because we keep seeing that clip on SportsCenter. There's only one way to overcome that: with a better highlight with Syracuse getting the better of Louisville. Game plan here should totally focus on how the Orange are looking thus far, and I have faith that Dino Babers has something up his sleeve to somehow win this game. Syracuse glides into its final game already bowl eligible at 5-6, with a probable loss in this game.
Syracuse vs. Boston College: Here we go. A return to the Saturday after Thanksgiving game. The ACC (or ESPN) just plain fucked this up last year. This game belongs in this weekend, forever, alternating the home field. Until you show me that Syracuse has a peer competitor in the ACC worthy of rivalry weekend, other than the Outhouse on the Hill. I think, at this point, the Syracuse offense is clicking on all cylinders, and should be able to overcome turkey to put up a lot of points. The 5-6 bowl eligible Orange should solidify a better bowl spot with a 6-6 record after this game.
It looks like I'm predicting a 6-6 regular season (which I also evidently did last year, too, so, take my predictions for whatever you want). We could go back to Yankee Stadium for a third time, or maybe some undesirable destination that we'll all have that moral struggle over: whether to support the team, or not waste money on a crappy site. But in Dino Babers' 2nd year, I think any bowl game is a win, and it's totally feasible even if one of these "wins" goes the other way.
So there it is. Both John and I are saying Syracuse wins 6 games this season. We actually agree this year. Now Syracuse just has to deliver. As always stay tuned this season for game previews, recaps, and any thoughts we have along the way. You can follow John on Twitter @JBren, and I'm @BH_Orange44. John will usually be in the Dome. I'll be in the home office for most games, if I don't have a game of my own. And as always, send any rules or officiating questions my way via Twitter all season. GO ORANGE!

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