It was a hard-fought game in Death Valley last week. Regardless, the Fizz had a clean sweep predicting an LSU win. But for the first time all year, there is some parity amongst the staff as the Orange travels to Raleigh:
Logan Grossman (3-1): NC State 31 Syracuse 24
Syracuse’s performance against LSU on the national stage surprised pretty much everyone. The Orange went blow-for-blow with the Tigers in Death Valley but fell just short. The Wolfpack, however, were able to pull off the road upset against a ranked opponent last week, knocking off then number 12 Florida State. The Pack seem like the real deal with their lone loss coming week 1 against South Carolina, in a game that the Pack completely dominated for 60 minutes. Throw on top of this that the Wolfpack are expecting to get Mike Stevens, the team’s top cornerback, back from injury. The Orange is facing an uphill battle. Like last week, they will have to play a darn near perfect game to overcome a tough road opponent.
Nate Dickinson (3-1): NC State 37 Syracuse 30
Dave Doeren took over the Wolfpack the same year Syracuse joined the ACC, and after a 3-9 year in 2013 hasn’t gone under .500 since. NC State did in that time exactly what Syracuse hopes to do with Dino Babers, and last week’s upset of Florida State proved the Wolfpack is for real. There is no guarantee that a repeat of the Orange’s performance against LSU will be enough to get the win this week. As always, the defense needs to step up. NC State is averaging 35 points per game, but the good news for the Orange is its opponent can give up a lot as well. In the Wolfpack’s only loss, South Carolina threw for 415 yards en route to a 35-28 win. Dino will be happy to test the waters of the NC State secondary. Syracuse looked like a potential six-win team last week against LSU, so it only makes sense that the Orange loses this week and shuts down those hopes before they get too high.
Tyler Aki (3-1): Syracuse 33 NC State 24
I get why there is a public perception that the Wolfpack is a hot team right now. But that is just wrong. NC State has wins against Furman (an FCS opponent), Marshall (a middling Conference USA team) and Florida State (playing its first game without their Heisman-contending quarterback, along with dealing with actually important life issues like a hurricane). NC State will find itself in a win hangover. Defensively, the Wolfpack has an imposing front seven. However, its only strength comes against the running game. But that probably bodes well for the Orange since it has struggled to run the ball anyways. As good as Bradley Chubb and the NC State defensive line is, it sits right in the middle of both the ACC, as well as the country, in sacks. SU quarterback Eric Dungey should have a field day against one of the worst passing defenses not just in the conference, but in the country. I would expect the Orange to remain consistent with its play calling: an air-heavy attack against a weak pass defense. As long as Syracuse can limit NC State’s big plays, SU can get a big road win to help its bowl chances.
Drew Carter (3-1): NC State 31 Syracuse 17
I don’t think NC State is better than LSU, but it’s much closer than most people realize, and the Wolfpack are better-designed to exploit Syracuse’s weaknesses than the Tigers were. This week’s opponent can actually throw the football (NC State averages 337 passing yards per game, the 12th-best mark in the country), which will allow the Wolfpack to attack the Orange’s banged-up secondary instead of repeatedly ramming their heads into the wall that is SU’s surprisingly-stout run defense. When Syracuse has the ball, its offensive line will look like a revolving door against NC State’s ferocious front, led by Bradley Chubb — for whom Dino Babers’ gameplan is “IDK.” Dungey’s only been sacked 6.3 percent of the time he’s dropped back this season, a rate that is slightly worse than average, but that’s because he’s an extremely intelligent mobile quarterback who realizes when plays are dead instead of trying to pull of a Rumpelstiltskin act. Chubb and company will bulldoze the Orange’s front five, while quarterback Ryan Finley shreds the SU defense. This game goes from winnable to forgettable not long before the opening kick.
David Edelstein (3-1): NC State 31 Syracuse 24
Yes, Syracuse played a much closer game last week against LSU than was expected, but the Orange isn’t going to get the job done this week either. Eric Dungey has been relatively consistent over the course of this season, and the defensive line was stellar last week. However, SU’s moral might still be on the low after taking the L, and NC State is simply on fire right now. The Wolfpack is coming into this game right after upsetting Florida State. And NC State quarterback Ryan Finley is performing out of his mind: he is averaging over 300 yards per game is completing nearly 3 passes for every 4 attempts to his receivers (a 74.2 percent clip). Dino Babers said Syracuse felt it should have won the game last week, but the Orange has to step up its game a notch or two this week if it wants to leave Raleigh with the victory.
JD Raucci (3-1): NC State 34 Syracuse 24
NC State is coming off a massive upset victory over Florida State in Tallahassee last week and it’s going to want to put on a similar performance in front of its home crowd on Saturday. With that being said, I think this may be a bit of trap game for the Wolfpack with Lamar Jackson and Louisville heading to Raleigh next week. I think it’ll probably overlook the Orange early on and SU will jump out to an early lead and maybe even take it into the halftime locker room. However, I think the Pack has just enough talent on both sides of the ball to adjust and edge SU in the second half. Guys like Bradley Chubb and Jaylen Samuels would be key to that second half surge, so if Dino Babers and company can find a way to slow them down and make them less effective, the Orange may have a chance to pull off the upset on the road.
Tim Leonard (3-1): Syracuse 23 NC State 20
I know, I know, I’m THAT guy. But hear me out for a second. This is a trap game for NC State in every sense of the word. The entire country is way too high on the Wolfpack after the upset victory last week. I know winning in Tallahassee is no easy task. But, let’s be honest, NC State didn’t beat the number 12 team in the country last week. They beat a team that lacks identity with a backup quarterback who was making his debut. It was impressive but let’s not call the Wolfpack an elite ACC team after just one good game. This is the same NC State team that a weak South Carolina bunch beat in week one. On top of that, the Pack comes into this one with less urgency and less motivation. Syracuse, on the other hand, happens to be coming off one of its best performances in quite some time. NC State will come out sluggish, overlook SU, get down early and panic. Dino Babers will out coach Dave Doeren with his masterful trick plays and Cole Murphy will sneak in a 22-yard chip shot to put a bowl game firmly in SU’s grasp.