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University of Connecticut Quick Predictions

Now this was a logo.
It's been a long time since Syracuse played UConn in football regularly. And by a long time, I mean not that long in terms of years. But definitely a long time in terms of things that have happened since. Like changing conferences. Saying goodbye to the Big East. And a whole host of other things. But we all still hate each other. So can Syracuse finally beat the Connecticut UConn Huskies at their own field?

Syracuse's offense is fast, fast, fast. And pretty good. Amba Etta-Tawo has been the most pleasant surprise. And frankly, despite some missteps along the way, the offense has looked pretty good. The defense on the other hand, has been a disaster in many ways. You can't really blame them though. They lost a lot of talent to graduation, and on top of that, have had several injuries already this season. So we're playing with kids who probably shouldn't have been playing this season. And that is never a recipe for success. On the other side, UConn plays sloooooow. And not only that, but Coach Bob Diaco hasn't proven the most adept at clock and time out management. They lost their game to Navy on the 1 yard line after all. They beat a very weak Virginia team by 3, and their only other win is against FCS Maine, of which they had to win on a last second field goal. Now granted, Syracuse hasn't won their last 2 games, but they played Louisville and USF. So needless to say, I'm not picking against the Orange in this one. I said in my season preview before any football was played that SU would win against UConn this year, and I haven't seen anything to convince me that UConn has suddenly become the team that got blown out in the Fiesta Bowl (after the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut had to pay $3 Million because UConn couldn't sell out their ticket allotment). That was back when Syracuse was VERY bad. They aren't that bad anymore. They aren't really good, but they definitely aren't that bad anymore. I'm taking the Orange in this one 23 to 17.

This game is available nationally on CBS Sports at 1:00pm. John is off the grid this weekend, but I'll be in the field at The Rent tailgating and then attending this one. So Syracuse better show up. Because I need to see a game there that doesn't involve me slowly walking the miles back to my car disappointed and sober (bad football is sobering), or soaked. UConn... U SUCK!

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Lots of thinking happening in this picture
I'm gonna keep this rather short. The Syracuse football team is a work in progress this season, and Saturday's Homecoming game against the South Florida Bulls was a prime example. A 17-0 lead after the first quarter led us to believe that this team could compete with its peers -- in fact, be able to beat its peers handily. Then, the rest of the game happened. A 45-3 USF run. So painful.

Offense
C
1st quarter: A; 2-4 quarters: F. So really, C might be generous. When the offense is on, it's on. When it's not, you wanna cover your eyes, or visit the concession stand, or piss in a trough. Dungey still had a decent game (32 of 48 for 350 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs). The passing game is on a higher level than the ground game, which has a lot of issues right now. Some bright spots, but it's the weaker of the two. But if you look at all the stats, you scratch your head wondering how this team only scored 20 points. That's gotta change.

Defense
D
For as long as the defense continues to give up huge plays -- several in a game -- it's gonna be the Achilles Heel of this team. And while the offense is overall pretty good, it needs to be crazy great to overcome the deficiencies of this defense.

Special Teams
B+
Sterling Hofrichter punted five times for 209 yards. Cole Murphy was good on field goals from 40 and 48 yards, and successfully hit both extra point attempts. Kickoff returns were decent from Sean Riley. Good effort from this squad.

Coaching
C
I think the coaches are doing a good job preparing the team for games and making decisions in-game. But there's only so much they can do. The players still play the game. And when the players don't win, that's a reflection on the coaches. So I can't give the coaches a failing grade.

GPA
2.08 (C)
This grade is too high. It should really be a D, at best. But I guess the bright spots you see from time to time seem to balance out the overall score. Maybe that gives us hope for the future... but not for this year.

If you were extremely disappointed by this game (and the complete breakdown of anything good after the first quarter), you might just want to skip the UConn game altogether. UConn is a game we look at and think Syracuse should win. Don't fool yourself. Or, rather, don't get your expectations up. Assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised if things work out peachy. That's probably the outlook we should all take from here on out.

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Cue the Crying Child...

Need to wash the stink off from that game.

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South Florida Quick Predictions

Interesting how the seal of the University of the Western Hemisphere shows a good portion of the Eastern Hemisphere.
It's Homecoming Weekend on the Hill in Syracuse, and the South Florida Bulls come to town. USF is off to a perfect 2-0 start, beating Towson and Northern Illinois. Meanwhile, the Orange is 1-1, winning the season opener against Colgate, but getting thumped against Louisville last weekend. It's all been in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome thus far, and in front of less than stellar crowds.

Syracuse hasn't really played a peer yet; Colgate was well below Syracuse's talent & ability, while Louisville is an elite team. USF is definitely the closest Syracuse will have seen to a peer so far this season, yet it seems like they may be just ahead of the Orange. The Bulls have had some momentum season to season, while the Orange clearly took a step backwards at the end of the Shafer era. But before Syracuse goes out and shocks Top 25 teams, it's teams like USF that Syracuse needs to focus on competing with. If you can't do that, then what business do you have thinking you can be competitive with the Louisvilles and Florida States and Clemsons of the world?

That being said, Syracuse will be seeing a tough Bulls team that has a quarterback cut from the same cloth as Louisville's Lamar Jackson: Quinton Flowers is 29-51 throwing for 528 yards and six touchdowns in his two games thus far, and is known to use his feet, picking up 99 yards and two touchdowns himself. Syracuse will obviously need to zero in on him, show pressure, but not simply sell out on every play. Doing that would undoubtedly pull a safety from the middle of the field and leave a receiver like Marquez Valdes-Scantling wide open. We saw enough of that with Cardinals receivers a week ago.

On the Syracuse side of things, QB Eric Dungey needs to regain some of the confidence from the Colgate game that he lost in the Louisville game. USF has a tendency to put up a lot of points and shut down their opponent's offense, so the bottom line is Syracuse needs to find a way to score, early and often. If they can get some momentum going on offense, not get interrupted by incompletions, runs up the middle, and cramping timeouts, the Syracuse offense has enough talent and ability to have a great game. If they can't do that, then forget it. I think they can, but they fall short in an exciting game that comes down to the last possession with the Bulls winning 46-44.

This game kicks off Saturday at 3:30pm EDT in the Carrier Dome, and if you're not there for Homecoming, the only way you can watch is on the ACC Extra through the WatchESPN app. While you're watching that, if you want to see tweets from the future, check out myself and your other usual Twitter peeps. Brian is still in Hawaii, so don't expect any sass from him, but rest assured; he's saving it up for an epic trip to East Hartford for next weekend.

For those attending Homecoming, remember a few things: first, it's Homecoming, not Orange Central. Second, if you're at Happy Hour on Friday night, pour a little out for #RIPDarwins. Lastly, be safe, don't do stupid shit, and tip your bartenders well. Still clueless and/or looking for some nostalgia? Check out Brian's Guide to Homecoming from five years ago. Go Orange!

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We saw a lot of this on Friday night.

Any sane person knew that Syracuse had little to no chance of beating Louisville in the Dome last Friday night. And we all knew it would be a high scoring affair, at least based on the offensive performances of each team the previous week. But who among us saw a 62-28 drubbing as a realistic possibility? Well, probably people smarter than me. But that's what the Cardinals did to the Orange. Let's pass some judgment on Syracuse.

Offense
C
Clearly, the Week One matchup against Colgate overinflated our view of the Syracuse offense. Are they a pretty decent squad? Yeah, sure. But going up against some actual talent exposed some flaws. It was very promising to see Syracuse when it had momentum moving the ball in the hurry-up no-huddle. Unfortunately we only saw that a few times, and even then momentum would be stalled by a Louisville injury or cramp. More on that below. But at any rate, QB Eric Dungey was a more down-to-earth 25 of 51 for 255 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Many receivers got in on the action again -- this time around eight -- with Amba Etta-Tawo leading the way with eight receptions for 103 yards and two TDs. Steve Ishmael caught four, but you could feel the tension in the Dome that the fans wanted to see him more. The ground game had varying degrees of success, but I felt the coaches called the "run up the middle" play way too much. Is there something cemented into the playbook that every coaching administration must run up the middle?

Defense
D
This probably should be an F, but I can't make scapegoats out of a defensive unit that doesn't have the talent (or enough time) in Dino Babers' system. When you give up 62 points, you can't be proud of your performance. When you give up 30 first downs, 414 net rushing yards, 431 passing yards, (for a total of 845), and just can't seem to figure out how to defend what's being thrown (or run) at you, you're not gonna have a good time. But even putting all that aside, I think even a good or a great defense would have had trouble with this Louisville offense. Lamar Jackson is a beast on the field, and with so many options on how to run an offensive attack, you almost need an additional 11 defenders just to be able to defend anything that could happen. So, this was a bad defensive performance, but even David couldn't have beaten this Goliath.

Special Teams
B+
With the Syracuse offense stalling so much, the punting game was needed to keep the Orange respectable in field position. Sterling Hofrichter didn't disappoint: 11 punts for 489 yards, which included a long of 61 yards, three inside the 20, and a touchback. Five of the eleven traveled more than 50 yards. Unfortunately, Cole Murphy wasn't as successful in his one field goal attempt at the end of the first half, missing from 55 yards as time expired. Quite frankly, the offense should have just attempted a TD there -- would have put the Orange within seven points at the half. Oh well, that's on coaching...

Coaching
B-
Demerits here are for the previously mentioned FG attempt at the half, for the excessive running up the middle, and for just totally being mismatched against a superior team. Obviously that last part isn't this coaching staff's fault, and you can only do so much with what you have. The coaches just need to find a way to get more out of these defenders. Otherwise, word will get out about how easy it is to exploit the defense, and Syracuse won't see the winning side of a football game the rest of the season.

GPA
2.25 (C+)
Of course there was going to be drop-off from Week One, but, that was just really rough. It really sucks that the excitement we all felt after the Colgate game went away so quickly. And now, of course, the fan base feels hopeless, like the season is lost. But, as always, perspective is the key. Syracuse needs to face a true peer -- a program with similar talent who we can realistically compete with. USF much closer fits that bill, and with the game being in the Carrier Dome and it being Homecoming, Syracuse might just have a shot to showcase its abilities against a school on the same level.

Finally, much has been said about Louisville defenders cramping up at times inconvenient to the Syracuse no-huddle #OrangeIsTheNewFast offense. I was disappointed that the fans in attendance chose to boo these injuries; I thought we were better than that. Were the players faking it? If they were, it wasn't blatant (i.e. flopping). And I can attest how extremely hot and humid it was inside the Dome. But Babers and the Orange players brought good points -- why was it only happening to Louisville's defensive players, not their offense? Why was it not happening to Syracuse players? Was it conditioning? Was it improper hydration or lack of electrolytes? Or just flat out cheating? It's hard to tell, and we'll probably never know for sure. This is probably something we'll have to deal with all season. If Syracuse is good enough, then these things won't matter. That's the bottom line. But in the meantime, let's no boo opposing players who are down -- fake injury or not. We're better than that, Orange Nation.

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Cue the Crying Child...

The first loss of the Dino Babers Era got ugly.

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Louisville Quick Predictions

College logos have come a long way

Syracuse and Louisville both won their season openers, and by large margins. But for as electric and fast as Syracuse was, Louisville was able to drop 70 on Charlotte. So it's clear that in Friday night's ACC opener for both teams in the Carrier Dome, we're going to see offense. A lot of offense.

In game one, the Orange played what Dino Babers thought was an extremely slow version of its fast offense. He expects it to be faster. Louisville has been practicing with its defense being ready for a play every 16 seconds. Fair to say that Lousville is a more talented team than Colgate, so don't expect Syracuse to have as easy of a go of it this time around. But I also see Eric Dungey having the same sort of success throwing the ball to the several talented receivers he has at his disposal. Unlike against Colgate, look for the Orange offensive attack to be more balanced; getting some ground success with an up-tempo offense could really open the field up for some huge passing plays for Syracuse.

On the other side, Louisville has proved that its offense is a force to be reckoned with. The Syracuse defense showed great determination last week after giving up the early touchdown but then pitching a shutout the rest of the game. But against the #13/15 Cardinals, they've got their work cut out for them. Key to that effort will be containing QB Lamar Jackson, who last week connected on 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards, but also poses a scrambling threat having rushed 11 times for 119 yards. For Syracuse to have a shot in this one, they'll have to create some turnovers, take away scoring opportunities from Louisville. Plus, the Orange basically have to score on every single possession it has. Particularly in the Red Zone, those drives need to end with TDs, not FGs like they did last week. It should be an exciting game, but I see Syracuse falling short to a better Louisville team, 53-38.

This game is available on ESPN2 and WatchESPN at 8pm EDT, and is the only FBS matchup Friday night other than Maryland vs. Florida International, so we'll "literally" have the entire college football world looking at us. I'll be in the Dome as part of the Orange-out (because I always wear orange to football games) so follow along on twitter @jbren or on Snapchat and Instagram at jbren218. Brian is in Hawaii on vacation and hopefully doesn't decide to experience a 2pm Friday football game in lieu of sunny beaches and frozen adult beverages.

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Another Coach That Doesn't Know The Rules

This guy definitely abides by the rules.
It's not terribly surprising that a majority of college football fans think they know the rules. What is surprising is when coaches, who get paid millions of dollars a year to coach a sport, don't know the rules. And they're the first to complain when their team is flagged. When Dino Babers cranked up the tempo of the SU offense, Bobby Petrino, coach of the Louisville Cardinals, seemed to think Syracuse was violating the rules by doing so. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND.
Most of you know that I am a football official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, high schools play under NCAA Football rules. We also use CCA Mechanics, which are the college official mechanics. So needless to say, when a coach flat out accuses Syracuse of cheating, this was in my wheelhouse. Petrino accused Syracuse of playing too fast, saying that it was illegal for Syracuse to snap the ball before the chains were set by the officials. Well, obviously this is wrong, and stupid, and ignorant. Kind of like the some of the things Petrino has done in his private life. 
Pretend you've never read the NCAA rulebook (most of you). You've watched a bunch of games. At some point, even if you haven't seen Syracuse this year, you've probably seen a team play with a no huddle offense. Now, you might know that when a team gets a first down, the clock stops. The purpose of this is technically to reset the chains to denote the 10 yards needed to achieve another first down. However, if you've ever watched the clock, you notice it's usually only stopped for a few seconds. Then the referee winds his arm, blows the whistle, and the ball is ready for play and the clock continues to roll. This happens many times, every game. So, unless you don't watch college football, anyone should know that the clock is only stopped for a few seconds. Again, the theory is that this is for the chains to move and reset. However, if you've ever seen a game in person (I assume Petrino has seen a few in person) you'll notice that as soon as the ball is spotted by the Center Judge (or the Umpire), the ball is declared ready for play and the Referee blows his whistle. They don't actually wait for the chains to be set.
The ACC Coordinator of Officials Dennis Hennigan, who is a former on field Referee and actually a lawyer in the Syracuse area, said:
Assuming that the offense does not substitute, the officials will allow the offense to snap the ball when the officials are in position, and when the "box", i.e., the down indicator, is set. The officials do not wait for the chains to get set. Both the box and the chains move upon the direction of the officials.
And not only that, but the officials have to blow the whistle to signify that the ball is ready for play. Syracuse is not able to snap the ball legally unless the Referee blows his whistle signifying that the ball is ready for play. If Syracuse does snap the ball before the whistle is blown, a 5 yard delay of game penalty is assessed. For as much grief as ACC Officials have gotten in the last few years, they do at least know when the teams are able to snap the ball.
So there you have it. Syracuse's offense isn't break the rules. And not only that, but it's common sense that if the officials are letting the players snap the ball, it's legal. And now you know some of the rules of NCAA Football better than one of it's highest paid, most crooked coaches. As always, send rules questions or any other game related things along to @BH_Orange44.

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