We can debate the Vegas line in this one all we want, but Syracuse is certainly heavy underdogs against LSU Saturday night no matter how you slice it. The Orange needs to play it’s best game of the year and still get a little lucky to become the first non-conference opponent to win in Death Valley since 2000. But, crazier things have happened, so let’s dissect three things SU needs to do to make that lofty dream a reality.
Get off to a quick start
LSU is going to be out for blood after getting shellacked last week by Mississippi State. Death Valley is one of the hardest places to play in country and there is no doubt the LSU faithful will be loud. So it’s imperative SU’s offense starts out hot and quiets down the crowd a little bit. Last time Syracuse played in a hostile environment at Clemson (the other Death Valley), the Orange were sluggish out of the gates and it got ugly. Syracuse never got in a rhythm and were flat out embarrassed on the national spotlight. For the program’s sake, Syracuse needs to avoid a repeat of that pathetic performance. In order to do that Eric Dungey and company need to set the tone early and prove they are not messing around from the opening kickoff.
Capitalize in the Red Zone
We can all agree LSU is going to need to make some mistakes in this one for Syracuse to come out on top. And after what we saw from the Tigers last week they likely will make some errors. However, the costliness of those mistakes comes down to execution from Syracuse. Whenever, Syracuse gets short-field from a turnover or have the ball in the Red Zone they simply have to capitalize. SU’s struggles inside the 20 in week two were a big reason why Syracuse fell short against Middle Tennessee State. The Orange only tallied 13 points in four total trips to the Red Zone. Given the talent disparity in this one, SU needs to be virtually flawless near the goal line Saturday night if they want any chance of winning.
Protect Eric Dungey
Syracuse may not face a pass-rush as fast and talented as LSU all year. The Tigers finished last year with the third most sacks in the entire SEC and that was mainly because of the otherworldly Arden Key. The pro-ready linebacker set an LSU single season record with 12 sacks last year. And if Syracuse tries to double-team Key, well fellow linebacker Corey Thompson can burn the Orange as well. Thompson is currently second in the SEC with 3.5 sacks in the first three weeks of the season. Between Thompson and Key, SU’s fragile offensive line is going to have their hands full Saturday night. For the miracle to happen, Syracuse must protect the quarterback, get in a rhythm early and seize opportunities when they can. And if they somehow manage to do all that and LSU happens to play bad for the second straight week then maybe, just maybe, The Orange will shock the college football world.