Everyone on the Fizz had the easy win last week with Clemson, now it’s time to see how they think Syracuse will fare against Western Michigan Saturday afternoon.
Jonathon Hoppe (2-1): Syracuse 30, Western Michigan 17
There’s one thing we need to see on Saturday (other than a win): a poised Tommy Devito. The Sophomore QB had a rough day on Saturday. While DeVito’s offensive line didn’t help him much, he also wasn’t great at recognizing the blitz. Clemson brought the house and the SU offense couldn’t handle it. Surely, Broncos head coach Tim Lester has studied the film and has a plan to put DeVito in similar situations. Can the young quarterback handle the heat? WMU is not Clemson, but the Broncos gave the Orange a run for their money in last year’s season opener. Syracuse has a chance to find its groove over the next several weeks and I think they do that. At the same time, this is a must win game in week four of a 12-game season. Let’s see how they handle the pressure.
Thomas Shults (2-1): Syracuse 38, Western Michigan 28
After a couple of blowout losses to start the season 1-2, Syracuse gets back on track against an explosive Western Michigan offense. Broncos quarterback Jon Wassink knives through a mediocre Orange secondary to further pad his 70.73 completion percentage. But Tommy DeVito has a field day of his own against a defense that gave up 51 points to Michigan State – one of the worst power five offenses. SU’s offensive line doesn’t overwhelm the Broncos, but is clearly superior in the trenches. Both Moe Neal and Abdul Adams break off big runs for touchdowns in the first half to give DeVito a cushion. Meanwhile the wide receivers recover from their drops against Clemson to dominate the Broncos defensive backs. Oh, and DeVito does not throw a pick rolling to his right for the first time in three weeks.
Tim Leonard (3-0): Syracuse 33, Western Michigan 16
While the Clemson game was another huge disappointment, the defense played well for the most part. 41 points was not a true reflection. Not to mention, Clemson is not your normal offense. On paper Western Michigan has a great rushing attack after seven rushing touchdowns and over 400 yards on the ground last week against Georgia State. However, on the road against a power five team in Michigan State it got ugly quick in a 51-17 loss. Considering MSU put up 7 points the following week against Arizona State, that leaves me optimistic this is the game the Syracuse offense figures things out. Tommy DeVito is too talented to put up another dud. The offensive line will rebound. Combine that with another solid performance from the defense, except this time it shows in the score column, and Syracuse finally plays like we know they can.
Gill Gross (3-0): Western Michigan 30, Syracuse 29
Western Michigan has to feel great coming into this game. They outscored the Orange 28-14 in the third quarter of last year’s game. SU went on to win 10 games. Now they’re looking at tape and seeing a much more vulnerable team than they played in Kalamazoo. The Broncos don’t have to worry about Eric Dungey, who rushed for 200 yards in the last meeting. Meanwhile, WMU can feel good about their own game. They defeated Georgia State last week, who was 2-0 with a win over Tennessee. But how they did it, a 57-10 blowout, was the most impressive part. They set a program record seven rushing touchdowns in the game. All of Western Michigan’s major weapons, QB Jon Wassink, RB Levante Bellamy and receiver/corner D’wayne Eskridge are back. I see the Broncos playing to win, while the shaken SU offense plays not to lose.