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Louisiana State University Quick Predictions

That's a lot of purple.
Syracuse has their best start to a season in years. They are atop their division in the ACC, and despite some key injuries, are playing like a moderately talented football team. But now the shit hits the fan. #8 LSU comes into the Carrier Dome looking to get in, score a ton of points, and then leave, preparing for bigger and better opponents. Syracuse, on the other hand, would love to shock the world, but more realistically they just want to avoid more injuries. Can Syracuse shock the world? I'm not taking that bet.

Leonard Fournette is probably the leading Heisman candidate right now (if there is such a thing in September). Syracuse is starting its previous 5th string QB. I can give you more detailed X's and O's but doing so is a fool's errand on a fool's journey. This isn't meant to be so depressing. But it's so depressing it's funny. I mean, beating LSU would probably be the upset of the decade. Maybe even more. And after I officiate a varsity football game here in Massachusetts, I'll go home and drink all of the Jack Daniel's I possess to celebrate, make out with my wife, and probably scream stuff off my back deck like Ric Flair. But chances are, like most of us are predicting, LSU will win by a ton, and this game will effectively be put away midway through the 2nd quarter. I'll be rooting for the upset. And for those in the Dome, you're going to at least see one really good football team. But I just think there's too much talent on LSU and not nearly enough in orange. LSU over Syracuse 48 to 20.

This game will be available nationally (yaaaay) on ESPN / WatchESPN at 12:00pm. John will be live in the Dome. I'll be in the home office. Godspeed to all of you Orange faithful in the Dome with that ungodly hoard.

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It was ugly, but this man is 3-0. You may have heard.
It was brutal. It was too close. It was QB #3 and #4 on the year. Syracuse managed to get it done in overtime, but it was not a great ending. Perhaps the worst timeout call SU has made in a while. Definitely some of the worst defending after. Syracuse was still the winner however. After an extra period, Syracuse was your winner 30 to 27.
How many quarterbacks does it take? Three. Eric Dungey was knocked out of the game on a brutal targeting penalty that was definitely upheld on review. 

It was a nasty hit and Dungey was done. So in came Austin Wilson and Zach Mahoney. Wilson had a TD and an INT. Mahoney was just good for 19 yards, going 4/4. Dungey, before leaving, had 1 TD on the ground and one in the air. Syracuse only had 11 first downs and was 1/8 on 3rd Down though. Not a great day. But they did just enough to win the game and score when they needed to.

When Syracuse needed a stop on 4th down they didn't get it. When Syracuse needed to prevent a touchdown they didn't. The only reason this grade is a C was that overall in the game they did play pretty well and on the overtime, CMU was held to only a FG. But allowing 30 first downs, and letting CMU go 3/3 on 4th Downs is crazy. 5/17 on 3rd Down isn't bad though.
Special Teams
Just fine. Riley Dixon's Heisman resume continues. Cole Murphy was 3/3 on FG, with a long of 21. Also an XP. Decent returns and no muffed punts. I'll take it.
The defense looked clueless, I know. Then they took the time out with only 15 seconds left and the clock rolling after 2 losses for the CMU offense. Then they got a TD to tie the game after kicking the XP. So either way, the defense blew it. So either way, I'll punish the coaching staff accordingly. You know they're driving and going no huddle. Maybe have your defense ready for that? And then you don't have to take a dumb TO to let CMU draw up the TD play.
C (2.18)
It was ugly, but it was a win. Syracuse starts 3-0 for the first time since the early 90's. Remember them? Gosh Syracuse was good then. And hey, this team is pretty good. They must be. They're 3-0. Don't ask any more questions now, because we're 3-0. Said Coach Shafer. Probably.
Syracuse now probably goes 3-1. Stay tuned for my depressing LSU preview later though. For now, just enjoy that Syracuse is 3-0 and that's something to enjoy.


Central Michigan Quick Predictions

No wedding this year. But it should still be a win.
Last year I wanted to watch Syracuse play Central Michigan. But my wedding was the same day. So I got in about a quarter while getting ready before heading to the church. Syracuse won that game 40-3 in an embarrassing outing for Central Michigan. You're welcome. My point is, I'm never picking against Syracuse when they play Central Michigan. Ever.
Another simple breakdown in this one. Whoever controls the line of scrimmage will win the game. Syracuse limited the rushing attack of CMU last year, and their overmatched offensive line broke and allowed Syracuse to run all over QB Cooper Rush. While Rush has gotten better this year, Syracuse should still be able to stop the rushing attack of Central Michigan. With that puts added pressure on Rush to make plays. That's when mistakes happen. If Syracuse has even the slightest success running the ball, they will win the game. Dungey has proven that he can make big throws, but I look for him to find success on the middle to short passes to keep the yards adding up, and possess the ball more. If the Syracuse defense stays fairly well rested, this game will be theirs for the taking. I like Syracuse in this one (duh) 34 to 10.
This game is available regionally at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here and the blackout map. For those who don't have the game on TV, this game is available nationally on WatchESPN. John's in the Dome. I'm at a game in real life so I'll either make it for the 4th quarter or miss you again this week. Enjoy!

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He may look unhappy, but he's 2-0.
The conference season started early for Syracuse and Wake. But hey, it was only Wake Forest after all. Syracuse couldn't have had an easier opponent. And that was necessary for Eric Dungey to get comfortable in his first start. Especially since he was just playing high school ball only a year ago. He performed well, and so did the defense. Syracuse won a game they never trailed in the 4th, 30 to 17.
Dungey (8/13, 221yds, 2 TD, 0 INT)didn't have a spectacular first half, but he had a stellar second half, including a 89yd pass to Brisly Estime, and a 53 yard pass to Steve Ishmael. The carries were spread out among the running backs and Dungey himself. All in all, they moved the ball well in the second half and earned 370 total yards and 15 first downs. They were an alarming 1/9 on third down conversions, but other than that, they had a pretty good day.
You gotta love three turnovers, one of which was a pick six 41 yards out. They limited Wake to 7 of 16 on third down as well. The three picks are the big achievement of this defense. They bent but never really broke during this game. And the scores Wake had were well earned, with the exception of their first TD. That's when the receiver just plain burned Syracuse. Upsetting. That's the only real bad play of the day though.
Special Teams
Solid day. Nothing fantastic but just doing your job. Cole Murphy was 3/3 on FG, the long of which was 39, as well as going 3/3 on XPs. Syracuse fair caught all of the punts, and only ran out one kickoff. Just doing the work is enough today. Remember when special teams was VERY special?
Some solid offensive play calling and even better defensive calls. Dungey apparently called his own plays in the huddle a few times, so the coaches can't get a perfect score, but that's still a solid day. Also, wut?!?
B (3.15)
Syracuse put in a solid performance, and other than the offense stalling in the first few drives, there wasn't much to complain about in this one. The offense played well. The defense played well. And the game was really never in doubt the last 15 minutes. A solid game all around to go 2-0 (1-0).
Syracuse will now face Central Michigan, this time in the Carrier Dome. This should be another solid, but definitely beatable opponent. Syracuse should become 3-0 before the real tests start.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

Sorry Wake, Syracuse showed up for Coach Mac.


Wake Forest Quick Predictions

Your mascot is just a dude.
Syracuse started off the season with a huge win in terms of the score against URI. But now the actual FCS teams start, and a conference game no less. Wake Forest heads into the Dome trying to prove last year was a fluke and that they aren't really as bad as you think they are.
The matchup is pretty simple actually. If Syracuse does two things they will win. Don't turn the ball over. With a freshman QB making his first start it might be a tall order. Although thrown in last week after Hunt unexpectedly went down, he seemed fairly calm and collected in the game, throwing for a couple TDs and no INTs. That's good. Not giving away the ball is the first step. The second is stopping the run for Wake. They average very few yards per carry. If Syracuse can continue that, it puts a lot of pressure on QB John Wolford. While talented, he can't win the game alone. Wake Forest isn't really that good, so if Syracuse stays in their lane, and takes care of what they should be able to do against Wake, they should win. If they go out there and Eric Dungey throws the ball to Wake several times, Syracuse will have a tough day. But I look for the Syracuse rushing attack to dominate anyway. Just like last year at Wake, Syracuse ran all over the field. Syracuse should do the same this time. I like the Orange in this one 30 to 17.

This game is available regionally at 12:30pm, via the following stations here. For those not blacked out due to the game being on TV, the game will be available on WatchESPN. For everyone, you can also watch on the ACC website here. John is in the Dome. I'm in the home office for at least the 2nd quarter until the end. An Orange Out is in effect for the game and they are honoring Coach Mac during this one so a lot of great things going on. Syracuse has a lot of reasons to show up and try and smack Wake in the mouth. Students get in free as well. Giddy up. It should be a great Saturday.

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2015 Syracuse Football Uniform Combinations

Could this be the key, the Rosetta Stone, to understanding SU attire?

During the tailgate for last week's game against Rhode Island, we happened to take a look at the sheet of tickets for this season. In addition to the scannable bar code, seat location, and of course, name of the opponent, each ticket features a faceless football player wearing a helmet, jersey, and pants. Full uniform. The ticket for each game features a different uniform combination. The one for the Rhode Island game had an orange helmet, blue jersey, and orange pants -- the same combination SU Athletics announced would be featured on the field and the same combination the team indeed wore for the game.

And so, we assumed the uniform combination on each ticket would match the on-field uniform for the team. This seemed confirmed when the school released word that the uniform combination for the Wake Forest game would be orange helmet, orange jersey, and orange pants -- same as the ticket!

If the trend holds true, here's what to expect for the rest of the games:

  • Wake Forest: orange helmet, orange jersey, orange pants
  • Central Michigan: orange helmet, blue jersey, platinum (or white?) pants
  • LSU: orange helmet, orange jersey, blue pants
  • Pittsburgh: blue helmet, white jersey, blue pants
  • Clemson: orange helmet, platinum jersey, platinum (or white?) pants
  • Boston College: orange helmet, blue jersey, orange pants
I liked that orange/blue/orange combo for Rhode Island, which in theory will be repeated for BC. I'm anxious to see whether the all-orange get-up for tomorrow's Wake game will be totally awesome, or totally obnoxious. I don't like that platinum sneaks its way in a few times, but this is Nike, so, not surprised.

Speaking of Nike, remember how there was this big event at Destiny USA in the spring of 2014, unveiling these new jerseys and how they'd be available for sale, including an orange jersey? Today is September 11, 2015, and the orange jersey is still not available for purchase. Nike, isn't your sponsorship of a school's attire -- and especially your multiple jersey combinations -- all aimed at selling merchandise? Your failure to follow through with this seems to fly in the face of everything I know about your company!

Of course, once an orange jersey goes on sale, I'll probably go to the bookstore or Manny's and think it looks stupid and not buy it. So Nike, maybe you do know what you're doing.

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Who needs a visor when your team scores 47?
The highs and lows of sports seem great. No greater illustration than this past Friday's game with URI and Syracuse if you are an SU fan. Syracuse cruised to a 47-0 victory after a crazy start for both teams, coughing up the ball a lot. But along the way, Syracuse again lost starting QB Terrel Hunt for the season. True Freshman Eric Dungey came in and performed well despite the difficult circumstances. It will be interesting from here on out, but other than Hunt going down, not too much to be upset about in this one.
Hunt came in ready to go but then turned the ball over almost immediately after Syracuse caused URI to fumble the opening kickoff. Then Hunt was knocked out, and Dungey came in to try and engineer a winning offense. He did, getting help from RB Ervin Philips' two receiving touchdowns, while throwing no INTs and going 10/17 for 114 yards. The carries were spread around for the running backs, with Jordan Fredericks and Dontae Strickland finding the End Zone. As an offense they earned 23 first downs, were 11/19 on third down conversions, 1/1 on fourth down tries, and 426 yards off offense. Considering Syracuse's offense was dreadful last year, I'll take all of this.
The defense caused three turnovers (special teams had another), limited URI to only 64 yards, two first downs, 1/11 third down conversions, and only four yards rushing, this was a very good day. And URI wasn't ever even close enough to attempt a field goal. They have the #1 rated defense in the nation right now (enjoy it, it won't last) and really earn all the praise for being the biggest question mark coming into 2015 after all the graduating players from last year. They came and took care of business against URI, as they were supposed to.
Special Teams
When you force a fumble on the opening kickoff to your opponent and you recover, you are probably in for a great day. Add to that a punt return for touchdown and that is a solid day. Punting from Riley Dixon was great, and Cole Murphy did well overall, hitting 1 of 2 field goals (23yds, missed a 44yrd) and 6/6 on extra points.
The game plan was good, especially after Hunt went down to build confidence for Dungey. Some nice throws, and good blocking allowed scores to happen and never really have any pressure on losing. Syracuse was loose, able to play a lot of younger players, and the defensive scheme worked very well at keeping the URI offense off balance. Nice work overall.
A+ (4.0)
This might be the first 4.0 in the history of Orange::44 giving grades for each game. But holding URI to zero points, as well as having a punt return, scoring 47, and generally being almost perfect, save for the Hunt INT. To keep expectations real for a moment, URI is an FCS team (1-AA). Syracuse should dominate them because they aren't even a good FCS team. And they did. Keep working hard and Syracuse might just win more than the four I predicted. With a true Freshman starting QB now though, some bad beats could be just over the horizon.
Syracuse now has their first ACC game with Wake Forest coming into the Dome for another solid test, but a team that Syracuse beat fairly easily last year at Wake. You have to like Syracuse's chances, however again, starting a true freshman in his first game will be interesting. Exciting and dangerous. What more do you want?



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