Syracuse (2-3) at NC State (3-2) Oct. 12, 3:30, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Syracuse and NC State will be looking to shake off losses in a matchup that could go a long way toward determining eventual bowl eligibility. The Orange took on it on the chin from Clemson, 49-14, falling to 0-3 this season versus opponents from an AQ conference. Syracuse doesn’t return to the Carrier Dome until the beginning of next month, so seizing some momentum will have to come on the road. The Pack suffered what could become a fork-in-the-road loss to struggling rival Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. State, too, has not beaten a name brand team, though it did perform much better against common opponent Clemson on Sept. 19.
Why Syracuse Might Win: When the Pack has the ball, the Orange is going to cause problems at the line of scrimmage. State is laboring to protect QB Pete Thomas, especially since LT Rob Crisp remains out with a concussion. Syracuse ranks No. 15 nationally in sacks, while allowing just 3.2 yards per carry. DT Jay Bromley is blowing up opposing lines, which is allowing linebackers Dyshawn Davis, Marquis Spruill and Cameron Lynch to roam more freely in the pursuit of the ball.
Why NC State Might Win: Fueled by a talented D-line, the Pack defense has played surprisingly well so far this season. Heck, State is the only team to hold Clemson below 30 points so far this season. It collectively gets off the snap in a hurry, pressuring the pocket with a combination of DE Art Norman, LB Robert Caldwell and a collection of very quick tackles. The Pack is only giving up 107 yards rushing a game, which could neutralize two of Syracuse’s best weapons, backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley.
Who To Watch Out For: If the Pack is going to ignite its passing game, this would be a good time to do it. Syracuse ranks 111th in pass efficiency D, and will be without starting CB Keon Lyn for the balance of the year.
- Someone is going to target the depleted Orange, but will it be Thomas or Brandon Mitchell? Mitchell, the Arkansas transfer, started the opener, but has been out since with a broken bone in his foot. He’s out of a boot, but his status for Saturday remains up in the air.
- The Pack had trouble last week containing the happy feet of Wake Forest QB Tanner Price, who scrambled for 82 yards. Orange QB Terrel Hunt, also a good athlete, will attempt to victimize NC State outside the tackles as well.
What Will Happen: In a toss-up game, the edge goes to the team that doesn’t have to travel this week. NC State has played well in Raleigh, a trend that’ll continue on Saturday. The Pack will survive a back-and-forth affair versus Syracuse, with PK Niklas Sade earning MVP honors.
Prediction: NC State 26 … Syracuse 23
Line: NC State -5.5 o/u: 54
Must See Rating: (5 Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight – 1 I Dream of NeNe: The Wedding) … 2