Logan Grossman (5-3): Syracuse 27 Wake Forest 24
I’ve on back and forth on this game, which has to be considered a toss up (Vegas sees it that way too). The reason that Syracuse will come out on top is the venue. Since losing to Middle Tennessee State at home, the Orange have played some great football in the Dome. This game could be the defining moment of the Dino Babers era. A win and the Orange are looking at two chances to secure a bowl berth. A loss and Syracuse needs to go on the road and beat Lamar Jackson and Louisville to keep their bowl hopes alive. A tall task. Of course, everything chances if Eric Dungey isn’t healthy. The man took a serious beating in last weeks loss and the Orange looked a bit lost without their fearless leader under center. Expect the game to be close from the opening kick to the final play, but Syracuse will squeak out a huge home win.
Tyler Aki (5-4): Syracuse 38 Wake Forest 27
This game to me seems eerily similar to NC State, but the Demon Deacons don’t have the same level of talent and this is a home game for the Orange. Both factors shift the meter towards an SU win. John Wolford, like Ryan Finley, doesn’t turn the ball over often (17 TDs to just 3 interceptions). The Orange had its chances to pick off Finley a couple weeks ago, but now there’s a greater sense of urgency with this SU team to win. I expect Syracuse to be a lot better defensively as the unit keeps getting healthier. As for the offense, it will come down to how well the offensive line can keep Eric Dungey on his feet. The quarterback is clearly injured and is listed as questionable on the injury report. But I trust his weapons in the short passing game. Moe Neal and Erv Philips need to play huge roles in the short, quick passing game so Dungey doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting in this game, and both guys are certainly capable to help SU get a comfortable win at home.
David Edelstein (5-4): Syracuse 27 Wake Forest 24
It’s a toss-up now that Eric Dungey has the potential of being sidelined on Saturday. The Orange has been strong offensively and defensively with the exception of a few holes (notably the offensive line and the secondary), and Wake Forest has matched SU’s success. Coming off a tough loss at Florida State and failing to assert dominance coming off a bye week, Syracuse needs to regain momentum at home this weekend. Syracuse has not faired well this season when it gets off to a slow start. This has been seen multiple times when Syracuse has played on the road (no points scored in the first quarter at NC State, at Miami and at Florida State). If Wake Forest comes into the Carrier Dome with a strong defensive performance and forces Syracuse to replicate this lack of production early in the game, Wake Forest will leave with the win. Dino Babers’ teams have never lost a game when they had a lead heading into the fourth quarter. If the Demon Deacons can take an early lead over the Orange, they should be set. If the Orange wants a chance at staying strong for this game and for the rest of the season, Dungey needs to play. He has been one of the top passers in college football this season and is a keystone to the Orange offense in both pace-of-game and targeting-of-receivers efficiency. He also leads SU in rushing. Fortunately for SU, Dungey has been healthy throughout most of the season up to this point (breaking a trend of Syracuse quarterbacks getting hurt early in the season for the past three years). The Orange hasn’t had to go to its backups for many plays this season. Now, at the climax of their 2017 season, trying to get enough wins to secure a bowl game, Dungey needs to be on the field and continue to perform for his team. It’ll be close, but ultimately Dino Babers will find a way to out coach Wake Forest and get the close win.
JD Raucci (6-3): Syracuse 34 Wake Forest 21
We’ve been talking ever since the bye week about how this Wake Forest game is probably the easiest of the last four outings for this SU football team. There’s a really good chance that that statement is going to hold true on Saturday because SU is getting the Demon Deacons at the exact right time. In the past two weeks alone, Wake has lost three of its best players to injury and that can only be a good thing for Syracuse. Cade Carney, the running back who gashed SU for over 100 yards last season won’t be suiting up in the black and gold. Greg Dortch, the Demon Deacon’s top receiver and best offensive weapon outside of quarterback John Wolford, is out for the season with an abdominal injury. Jessie Bates III, the team’s leading tackler, even without playing a single snap against Notre Dame last week, in addition to being the team’s best defensive back, didn’t make an appearance on the Wake depth chart for the second straight week. Eventually, it’s those injuries that are going to make the difference in this game. Without Dortch and Carney, Wake is going to struggle to produce on the offensive end and is going to have to turn to skill players that haven’t seen a ton of touches this season. On the other side of the ball, Eric Dungey is simply too talented a quarterback not to take advantage of a depleted Wake secondary. Watch for the junior to attack the middle of that defensive back corps, where Bates would typically play, early and often. While I think SU is the better team even without the rash of injuries Wake has sustained and would probably beat Dave Clawson’s squad either way, the missing parts for the Demon Deacons are going to be too much to overcome and SU will be one win away from a bowl game.
Tim Leonard (6-3): Syracuse 35 Wake Forest 17
We have still yet to see the SU offense fully put it all together for an entire game so far this season. I think that all changes Saturday. In their past three games, the Wake defense has allowed almost 40 points a contest. I expect Syracuse to sniff that number in the dome. It’s going to be one of those games that’s close at halftime and then changes in a hurry (Think Central Michigan). Once Dino makes some adjustments, SU is going to be fueled by a loud Dome crowd and blow the game open in the second half. When it’s all said and done, Dungey will stuff the stat sheet again and the Orange is going to cruise to a reputation-cementing fifth win.
Jonathon Hoppe (3-1): Syracuse 38 Wake Forest 32
Any way you look at it, this is going to be a tough game for Syracuse. Not only is it facing a hot opponent in Wake Forest, but the Orange is coming off a heartbreaking loss last week to Florida State. As usual, this game is going to come down to one player: Eric Dungey. After getting banged up in the first half last week, Dungey came back to deliver a more than solid performance in a losing effort. If he’s near full go, expect the Orange to pick up its fourth straight win in the Carrier Dome. With that said, the Demon Deacons are no joke. They’re coming off a 48-37 loss against Notre Dame, the third best team in the nation. The week before that, Wake Forest topped Louisville 42-32. The Demon Deacons have still lost four of their last five, but they’ve played with intensity over the past couple of weeks. Syracuse hasn’t scored over 30 points since mid-September, and I think that changes on Saturday. The Orange will use its home crowd to edge Wake Forest in what should be a highly competitive game.