Back in the day, this used to be a given.
Syracuse is back on the road. Good thing. Syracuse has won the three Big East road games they have played this season. And they are now facing Rutgers, a team that Syracuse flat out embarrassed last season. Do you think they aren’t chomping at the bit for payback?
Rutgers will most likely start freshman QB Chas Dodd, who has not had the best of years as a true freshman, only throwing for five touchdowns to three interceptions. He does have some good receivers to throw to in Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison, but his forte seems to be quick, short passes, not airing the ball out. His longest play on the season is only 53 yards. Nor has he shown the arm strength to back safeties off to create more opportunity for the running game. Syracuse should have a slightly more successful day on offense than Rutgers with a far more dependable running game in Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey. Ryan Nassib also has more experience, a better arm, and now he has his entire starting offensive line back. Both these defenses are pretty evenly matched however, and two of the best in the league. With Rutgers they have an especially good run defense and have found ways to penetrate the offensive lines of the teams they have faced. Obviously, Syracuse’s front seven are very good and the various blitz packages and zone looks Syracuse has used this year has been very successful in confusing younger quarterbacks on the road. The key to this game will be which team can consistently pressure the quarterback and cause some turnovers. For Syracuse, this is especially critical to give Syracuse some shorter fields for the offense to work. Syracuse will be able to move the ball, but it will be frustrating to watch on occasions because Rutgers has the ability to stop what Syracuse’s strength is in pounding the ball. Still, because this is on the road and with both teams struggling offensively as of late, I do like Syracuse in this game. This is a winnable game for the Orange and if they limit mistakes in terms of picks or turnovers they will at least have a great chance to continue the road winning streak. Look for Syracuse to win a close one over Rutgers 24 to 17.
This game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN U in stunning high definition starting at 3:30pm. This game is very important for Syracuse, not only for pride against a team Syracuse consistently dominated in Rutgers, but also to clinch their first postseason appearance since 2004. It would be nice to get that over with and play more relaxed for the rest of the season knowing a bowl is guaranteed. Either way, this will be entertaining. I’ll be in New Jersey for this one, so I’m hoping the team doesn’t let me down. At least the weather will be nice, even though it’s New Jersey.