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Syracuse - Wisconsin Preview

Syracuse students agree: Winning a big game after a loss would be gratifying.
Syracuse is coming off a somewhat surprising loss to South Carolina. Not the fact that they lost. Chances are that was going to happen at some point this year. But the way they lost. Syracuse only managed to score 50 points. For the first time in my life, maybe ever, the football team outscored the basketball team. Ridiculous. But it's a new game and a big game. Syracuse plays away from the Carrier Dome and New York State, as they travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin. There's only one thing that really scares me about Wisconsin and that is they are a very good rebounding team. One thing the Zone does not do is put people in good rebounding positions. If Wisconsin is hitting shots or if they are getting easy offensive boards and put backs, Syracuse will be in trouble. However, if the Zone is active and forcing Wisconsin turnovers, Syracuse should win. After all, Syracuse is 6th in the country in 3 point shooing. And Wisconsin is not a good defender of the 3 point line. Look for Tyler Lydon to get hot early, and obviously Frank Howard has found quite the stroke as of late. And that isn't even talking about leading scorer Andrew White. If Syracuse can force turnovers and prevent easy Wisconsin buckets, the scoring should take care of the rest. Wisconsin likes to play slow as well, so if the press can speed up Wisconsin into some bad shots, all the better. Frankly, people are talking about this being a tough game for the Orange. And Wisconsin is favored by Vegas in this game, but I actually just think this matchup favors the Orange. I'll take Syracuse by 11. This game is available nationwide on ESPN / WatchESPN at 7:30pm. My god. A game on actual television. What a concept. Both John and I will be in the home office. Despite our love of cheese curds, we'll be rooting for Syracuse. Go Orange!

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Cue The Crying Child...

Despite all the touchdowns, Syracuse is your loser. So we cue the child for one last time in 2016.

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South Carolina - Syracuse Preview

 Syracuse students agree: Typically Syracuse plays great in NYC.
It's not MSG, but Syracuse heads to New York to take on South Carolina. Both teams undefeated, with the other USC beating #25 Michigan pretty handily in their last game. However, it wasn't without some hiccups, as it took an overtime to beat Monmouth, a team that Syracuse handled extremely well. SC's best player is Sindarius Thornwell. He's averaging 20.8ppg and leads in rebounds with 7.2 per game. If Syracuse is able to shut him down, and judging by the fact that this may be the only Zone SC plays against all year, it is very possible. I think Andrew White will have a monster game, and I think after the last game with the breakout of Tyler Lydon out of his funk, I think Syracuse will have a very good shooting day in the City. This one will be close for longer, but I like Syracuse pulling away in the last eight minutes. I'll take Syracuse over South Carolina by 13. This game will be available natiowide on WatchESPN at 2:30pm. SU football is still on, so I hope you have 2 TVs. Giddy up.

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Pittsburgh - Syracuse Quick Predictions

Syracuse finishes the season against an old rival. As per usual.
Syracuse has had a lot of ups and downs this season. But they currently sit at 4 wins. Could they beat an old rival at home and possibly claim a Bowl spot with 5 wins?
Syracuse travels to the Steel City to take on long time rival Pittsburgh in a game that doesn't really matter for Pittsburgh, but matters a whole lot to Syracuse. But we've seen this before. Syracuse has traveled to Pitt a few times in the last several years to end the season with a Bowl Bid on the line, and they haven't been able to get it done. Not sure this year will be much different. While I do think Syracuse's hire of Babers will bring the program to a new level, that won't happen for another season really. This year, Syracuse fans should feel lucky and glad that we're even talking about 5 wins. And really, Syracuse shouldn't have beaten Virginia Tech. Like at all. So there's that. And it was awesome. But anyway, Pittsburgh has beaten Penn State and Clemson. So they are a really good football team, despite not being ranked and despite only having 7 wins. Pitt RB James Conner is a really great story and he is having a phenomenal year. Syracuse probably still doesn't have their starting QB. If that's the case, this game will probably be done at the half. It is what it is. Stay healthy, thank you seniors, and get ready in the off season. I'm taking Pittsburgh over the Orange 38 to 24.
This game is available regionally at 12:30pm as your ACC Game of the Week. Check your local listings here. For those who don't have it on TV, it's available on WatchESPN or here. John and I are both in the home office. No matter how this shakes out it was a good season, and there will be another after this one. Go Orange! 

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South Carolina State - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We've already left for home and aren't at this game.
Syracuse continues their early season "Tournament" slate with South Carolina State. A team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, they are sitting on a 1-2 record on the year, having only beaten St. Andrews (never heard of it) while losing to Wichita State and South Carolina. I can't see how this team will be able to keep up with the Orange. They are undersized, they average a little more than 21 points per game less than the Orange. Finally, they allow 31 more points per game, than Syracuse. This game should not be close. And after the first five minutes, this one shouldn't be in doubt. I think the Orange roll big in this one. SU over the Bulldogs by 34. This game is available on WatchESPN/Time Warner Cable Sports Channel (in New York) at 7:00pm. Both John and I are in the home offices. We'll see you out there.

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Florida State Quick Predictions

It doesn't look good for the Orange this weekend. Football wise.
Syracuse is still without starting QB Eric Dungey. And to make matters worse, #17 Florida State is coming into the Dome. So the big question is, will Syracuse even be able to keep up? I have my doubts.
Syracuse may have Eric Dungey play in the game, but it is far more likely he is not going to even put on the pads this weekend. That leaves Zach Mahoney with starting QB duties again. While he tried his best, he was mostly ineffective in capitalizing on good field position and converting on third downs against NC State. And that probably won't change with Florida State. Miracles do happen, but I can't see Florida State having that down of a game that Syracuse could pull the upset in this one. Dalvin Cook is easily one of the top Running Backs in the country. And QB Deondre Francois is a very capable player under center. Syracuse's defense will have everything they can handle and then some, and as we saw against a lesser team in NC State, they couldn't get stops on 3rd down, and couldn't stop some big plays. Florida State should have little to no problem getting into the end zone. I'll take FSU over the Orange 45 to 27.
This game is available nationally on either ABC or ESPN 2 at 3:30pm. Check to see what channel here. This game is also available nationwide on WatchESPN. Both John and I will be in the Dome, so give us a high five. Just don't try and start The Waive. You know how we feel about that nonsense.

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Monmouth - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: It doesn't matter what your bench players do.
Syracuse continues their early season slate with Mid-Major darling Monmouth. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champs made the NIT last year, despite some thinking they should have been in the Big Dance. But they didn't, and Syracuse made the Final Four. Anyway, Monmouth blew up Drexel but lost in OT to South Carolina with a buzzer beater. Syracuse, meanwhile, beat Colgate and smoked Holy Cross. Syracuse was shooting really well against Holy Cross, and there's no reason to think that it won't continue versus Monmouth. Monmouth has only played Syracuse one other time in 2012. Syracuse won 108 to 56. While I don't think Syracuse will win by as much this time, I can't see how Monmouth can pull an upset if even half of Syracuse's players are putting the ball in. Monmouth may get hot shooting, but eventually Syracuse will force turnovers and pound the paint, and that will be that. Syracuse over Monmouth by 32. This game is available nationally on WatchESPN at 7:00pm. The game will be available on TWCS Channel if you have Time Warner Cable. John will be in the Dome. I'll be in route to Syracuse to watch the Florida State football game. If you're in the Dome, enjoy. If you're in Syracuse this weekend, say hi.

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Syracuse's most important player was on the sideline. That's the main reason for the loss.
NC State was probably the most winable game of the last 3 games of the season. And despite some big plays from the Orange, Syracuse fell short. NC State was the winner 35 to 20.
Offense
C+
Zach Mahoney (14/25, 190yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) performed admirably, but he didn't make a lot of great decisions, wasn't able to run as well as Dungey, and didn't feed his playmaker Amba Etta-Tawo (4 rec, 88yds, 1 TD) nearly enough. And the offense was only 4/14 on third downs. Syracuse never really seemed to get in a rhythm on offense. And on top of all that, Syracuse only earned 28 rushing yards. Not great.
Defense
C
Syracuse seemed to do well on first down and second down, but never really got it together on third downs. NC State was 10/18 converting third downs and 1/2 on fourth downs. They also allowed 544 total yards for NC State. However, they were able to pick off two interceptions. It's just a shame the offense didn't do anything with them.
Special Teams
A-
Good coverage, good returns, and Cole Murphy was perfect. He hit a 48 yarder when the game was still close. No complaints.
Coaching
B
Not sure they can be blamed too much knowing that Mahoney was in and not Dungey. But I would have been a little more aggressive in trying to make throws to Etta-Tawo, my biggest playmaker. Just a thought.
GPA
B- (2.75)
Sadly, despite Mahoney's best effort, he is not named Eric Dungey. Because he isn't as good as Dungey at making plays out of nothing, Syracuse's offense couldn't capitalize on the stops that the defense was actually able to make. And thus, NC State was able to pull away. And Syracuse just made it even harder to get to a Bowl Game. Missing one wouldn't be the worst thing in Babers' first season, but it wouldn't have been bad either.
Syracuse now takes on the juggernaut that is Florida State in the Dome. Dungey is still doubtful. So... great. Either way, Syracuse will try though. And for that, we thank you. By the way, Time Of Possession is a garbage statistic in a game that features a team that never huddles and tries to go as fast as it can. I'll probably repeat this many times for the entire tenure Dino Babers is Head Coach of Syracuse.

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Real basketball is back in the Dome!

Not sure if this was purposeful or not, but Syracuse opened its football and basketball seasons in 2016 in the Dome against the Colgate Red Raiders. Orange Football won its game back in September, and on Friday night there was never any doubt that Orange Basketball would do the same. Head Coach Jim Boeheim used a nine-player rotation to give multiple looks and keep people fresh, and allow us to see returning players, grad transfers, and freshmen. So, in other words, and opportunity for us to see everything this team can do this season. And it was glorious! When all was said and done, the Orange emerged victorious 83-55.

  • Tyler Roberson not surprisingly led the way with 18 points on 9-13 from the floor. Right behind him was grad transfer Andrew White III with 17 points on 7-12 shooting, including 2-7 from three. Also in double digit scoring was grad transfer John Gillon (13 points) and Frank Howard (11 points).
  • Most improved player  from last year (you know, based on one game) has to be Frank Howard. Last year he showed flashes of greatness, but never really got much of a chance to shine with Gbinije and Cooney in the backcourt. Against Colgate, Howard had a confident command of the offense, was assertive, and assisted on nine scores. He's also bigger, stronger, and more athletic than last year.
  • DaJuan Coleman was on track to have a great game -- six points, six rebounds, and active around the basket -- but he got into foul trouble and only played 15 minutes. But unlike in recent years, Syracuse is deep at the center position, so they could afford to have Coleman play aggressive and get what production he can before having to sit him. We'll see how this continues to develop.
  • Some key stats: Syracuse had 48 points in the paint, 12 points off turnovers, and 23 fast break points. On the other side, Colgate mustered 19 offensive rebounds -- something that extended their possessions, most notably in the first half -- but could only cash them in for seven second chance points.
  • Free throws matter, but ended up being a non-factor in this one (Syracuse shot a chilly 8-19).
So, a fine start to the season. It's nice to have basketball back again, and especially to have buzz carry over from last year's Final Four run, get some great grad transfers, a great recruiting class, and core returning players. This team has a lot to look forward to. But, one game at a time. Up this week is Holy Cross on Tuesday, followed by Monmouth on Friday. Go Orange!

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North Carolina State Quick Predictions

Another home win would be nice.
Syracuse got smoked last week. Avoiding that again would be key to everyone's health and happiness. But winning this week would be even better. Can Syracuse stun another ACC squad?
Eric Dungey is out. Concussed after going up against Clemson down south, Syracuse hasn't announced yet which backup QB will be playing. But they won't be as good as Dungey, especially on the ground, making plays with his legs. That being said, it isn't like NC State is setting the world on fire with their offense either (thanks George McDonald). They sadly broke Boston College's winless streak, by allowing the Eagles to beat them. For shame. So it comes down to can Syracuse make plays of offense? We know Etta-Tawo will be ready, but can Syracuse's QB put the ball in a place where he can catch it? If Syracuse is able to move the ball and score, Syracuse can win this game. However, there are just too many questions unanswered in regards to the Orange. And frankly, if we knew the Syracuse kicking game was very solid, I'd have a little more faith, but Cole Murphy has been too spotty this season for me to feel very confident in this game without our starting QB. I'll pick NC State, by a slim margin 24 to 17.
This game is available regionally at 12:30pm. Check your local listings here, and the blackout map for WatchESPN here. And the game is available on TheACC.com here. I hope Syracuse can pull out a win and get one game closer to a Bowl Bid, but it just seems like too many cards are stacked against them. John is in the Dome, and I'll be in the home office today without a game of my own. So giddy up and Go Orange!

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Colgate - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: A new season after a Final 4 is very fun.
Another November, another basketball season. Football is doing fairly well, but we knew it was a rebuilding year. And that's fine. But Syracuse Basketball is picking up right where they left off in the Final 4 last year. And what a way to start, with long time rival Colgate. Picked to finish 6th in the Patriot League, the Raiders are coming off a 13-17 season. It will be a quick preview to start the year, and only because it's Colgate. The last time Colgate beat Syracuse was 1962. This year it won't be close again. Tyler Lyden, Paschal Chukwu, and DaJuan Coleman should eat up the low post and the paint all evening. Colgate will keep it close the first 10 minutes or so, making 3s and hitting some back door plays. But then it will be all Orange. Syracuse should get several fast break points, and just dominate due to size and athleticism. I like the Orange by 28. This game is available nationwide on WatchESPN on ACC Extra at 7:00pm. Enjoy the new season and Go Orange!

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Yep, all our heads hurt.

Coming off a bye week, 4-4 Syracuse was in the best position to have the best shot at Clemson. No, I don't think any of us were insane enough to think Syracuse would beat Clemson, but conventional knowledge said Syracuse would be competitive. And that's what I was anticipating. But that's not what we got. Eric Dungey left the game early with an injury, the offense couldn't recover, the defense could never hold its own, and it was just an all-out loss: Tigers over Orange 54-0.

Offense
F
No matter who's taking the snaps, when you put zero points on the board, you fail. In the prior week, the Clemson defense was trigger happy on the defensive pass interference against Florida State, so this Syracuse offense had a chance to pick up big gains even without offensive efficiency. But they couldn't cash in. Sure, Dungey going down early threw a huge wrench into the gameplan, but what does it say when Austin Wilson comes in over Zack Mahoney? I won't share the awful stats with you (you can see them here) but the lack of any semblance of momentum made this shutout inevitable.

Defense
F
Clemson had 565 yards of total offense. 27-40 for 370 yards passing, and 195 yards on 44 rushing attempts. The Tigers were every bit the #2 team in the country in their offensive attack, and Syracuse just had no answer to it.

Special Teams
F
Syracuse had few opportunities to make this a game. But Syracuse had a couple opportunities to save some face and put up a few points to avoid the shutout. Enter Cole Murphy: with 4:31 to go in the 3rd Quarter, Murphy gets the kick attempt from 30 yards out -- and misses. Sure, his miss here had no bearing on the outcome of the game, but it had a huge bearing on the psyche of Syracuse fans; safe to say we have no confidence in the kicking game. I'll repeat what I always say: Syracuse plays half+ its games in a windless Dome, so there's no excuse to not recruit the best kickers in the country.

Coaching
D
No doubt Dungey's early exit changed everything for the Orange. But the decision to go to Austin Wilson over Zack Mahoney is real questionable, especially considering his performance. But even before Eric went down, it just didn't seem like Syracuse had fully taken advantage of the bye week. Historically, Syracuse plays well out of thr bye, and even though Clemson happened to be the next team up and nobody expected a Syracuse win, you'd nonetheless expect Syracuse to play up to its competition. Instead, it was as if Syracuse put 11 dudes on the field and just lived with whatever happened. Hard to watch as a fan.

GPA
F (0.25)
It sucks to give Syracuse an F on a game it had no chance of winning anyway. It also sucks to give Syracuse an F on a game in which Eric Dungey got knocked out early and the entire offensive game plan got thrown out the window. But it's the totality of circumstance in which I give this F. This was a game, much like the South Florida game, that I would have left early. Probably. Though the Orange's most recent bigger blowout -- a 56-0 drubbing at Georgia Tech -- featured me in attendance with crappy weather and I didn't leave early. So I guess you never really know. But this, this game, was a crapper.

By the time Syracuse finds itself back in the Dome for a noon:30 against NC State, it'll be four weeks since the amazeballs game against Virginia Tech. The Orange needs one win -- for sure -- and more safely two wins -- to be bowl eligible. A win against the Wolfpack is the common thought to get the Orange there (with Pittsburgh being the other). So let's see if the same Dino Babers who inspired a nation in the locker room after the VTech win can inspire his own players to win the games they need.

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Cue the Crying Child...

It was worse than we thought.

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