Our Fizz crystal ball game predictions are back for the new season. Comment below with your own prediction ahead of the season opener at Liberty.
Jonathon Hoppe (0-0): Syracuse 35, Liberty 17
There’s only one real reason to believe Liberty can upset Syracuse on Saturday: fourth-year quarterback Buckshot Calvert has a career day with the help of running back Frankie Hickson and receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden (both 1,000-yard players a year ago). The Flames are experienced at some positions and raw at others. Hugh Freeze has had his hands full recently, attempting to get his offense ready for the Orange and rehabbing from back surgery at the same time. While Freeze met with his staff daily during his week in the hospital, you’d have to think the injury has slowed his team’s progression down. Or, you think Freeze’s back problems will rally the troops. I’d say the former is much more likely. Given that, Syracuse should run away with this game against an opponent entering its first full season as an FBS team. The offensive line is a concern for SU, but the Flames front shouldn’t be enough to expose them in the season opener.
Gill Gross (0-0): Syracuse 45, Liberty 17
Expect SU to pull away in the second half once in-game adjustments are made. Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze, although questionable to coach from the sideline, should have unpredictability on his side. He hasn’t coached since 2017, when he resigned from Ole Miss amid scandal. The main thing to watch in this game are the Syracuse running backs. Dino Babers will be looking to ease QB Tommy DeVito and his inexperienced offensive line into the swing of things. The way to do that is to pound the football. Moe Neal, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard with fresh legs against sub-power five tacklers? Pencil in some broken ankles, nasty stiff arms and truck stick runs. Syracuse rolls behind a 250 yard-plus rushing performance.
Tim Leonard (0-0): Syracuse 54, Liberty 27
The Flames actually have some weapons on offense. With a quarterback in Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert, running back Frankie Hickson and an NFL prospect at wideout in Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty is the only FBS team not named Clemson to return a 3,000 yard passer, 1,000 yard rusher and 1,000 yard receiver from last season. Granted those numbers came against some weaker competition in their transition year into FBS play, but still they will likely move the ball a little and keep it close early. That being said, I don’t see their defense, which would’ve ranked 123rd in the country in total defense last year if they were eligible for FBS stats, getting too many stops. Considering I feel more confident in the Syracuse defense than the offense going into week one, this should be an easy road win and a big night for Tommy DeVito.
Harrison Singer (0-0): Syracuse 48, Liberty 17
Running back Frankie Hickson is going to be the focal point of Liberty’s offense. The senior averaged over 4.5 yards per touch last season across 239 total touches for the Flames. Liberty ran the ball more than it threw it last season, so Hickson promises to be involved early and often on Saturday. However, a talented and more experienced Syracuse defense will be waiting for Hickson and co. The Orange brings back players such as, Alton Robinson, Kendall Coleman, Josh Black, Christopher Fredrick, Evan Foster and Andre Cisco, and all are likely eager to start the year off right with SU beginning its season ranked for the first time since 1998. Syracuse shouldn’t have a hard time getting passed Liberty, but no opponent should be overlooked. Plus, the season schedule only heats up from here.
Thomas Shults (0-0): Syracuse 45, Liberty 21
After biding his time for a couple of years, Tommy DeVito finally grasped his opportunity to show off a cannon of an arm. Sure he had a couple big moments last year – like his comeback heroics against UNC – but this is the first time he’s the leader. If SU’s offense sputters, all eyes turn to him. But Devito and Syracuse won’t be the only high-powered offense on the field. First year Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. Don’t be surprised to see trick plays from both sides. In the end, Syracuse breezes to a 1-0 start and DeVito’s confidence builds. Freeze and his offense find paydirt but the Orange the defense has a solid game, showing that last year was no joke.
J.D. Raucci (0-0): Syracuse 48, Liberty 24
The spread on this game currently favors Syracuse by a bit less than three touchdowns (SU -18), but I think the adrenaline of perhaps the most anticipated season opener this millennium gives the Orange just a little bit of extra juice (pun intended) and allows them to cover plus a bit more against the Flames. Yes, Liberty is a bit of a question mark in their first season of the Hugh Freeze era, but this is a very talented bunch for the Orange that should be more than up to the challenge. The much ballyhooed SU defense may get a bit of a test against a Flames offense that scored at least 40 points in six games last year and may give up a few scores early, but expect them to settle in nicely. On the offensive side, it’s going to be very exciting to see Tommy DeVito officially handed the keys to the sports car and it probably won’t look perfect, but as usual, #OITNF should put up gaudy numbers, reign supreme and propel themselves to a week one win.