Syracuse righted the ship on Saturday with a solid 52-33 victory over Western Michigan. The Broncos were always going to score points with the accuracy of Jon Wassink and the burst of LeVante Bellamy. But Syracuse lit up the scoreboard themselves, and its defense forced four turnovers to seal the win.
After next week’s cupcake contest against Holy Cross, SU dives into conference matchups following a bye. And while the Orange have clearly digressed from last season, so has the rest of the ACC.
Let’s assume Syracuse travels NC State sitting at 3-2. Tommy DeVito gains even more confidence after SU manhandles Holy Cross and the defense looks to have recovered from games against Maryland and Clemson. So far this year, the Wolfpack are 3-1, but their best win is against Ball State. NC State also lost to a rebuilding West Virginia team. First time starting quarterback Matthew McKay has just one interception on the year, but doesn’t move the ball down the field well. In NC State’s loss to West Virginia, McKay averaged just four yards per completion.
After squaring off against the Wolfpack, Syracuse hosts a Pittsburgh team that always gives the Orange fits. This season, the Panthers are in the same boat as SU, sitting at 2-2 after losses to Virginia and Penn State. But the Panthers only lost its rivalry game to the Nittany Lions by a touchdown. Last season Pittsburgh squeaked by Syracuse in overtime after picking off Eric Dungey on SU’s first offensive play of OT. Pittsburgh boasts a three-headed monster at running back and strong quarterback play, but it relies on its defense. Defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman already has 5.5 sacks on the season. Remember, the Panthers just upset No. 15 UCF this past weekend. This is a dangerous team that could give SU fits.
After Pitt, Syracuse finishes the season with Florida State, Boston College, Duke, an improved Louisville team, and Wake Forest. That’s a really easy schedule, but we’re still learning just how good this Syracuse team is. Are they as bad as they showed against Maryland? I find that hard to believe. I think SU drops the Pitt game and one or two more against the remaining five teams. Boston College has one of the best running backs in college football on its team in AJ Dillon, but was blown out against Kansas. That game was Kansas’ first road win against a power five opponent in 48 contests.
Meanwhile Duke is rebuilding after losing Daniel Jones, and Wake Forest is… well Wake Forest. Granted the Demon Deacons are 4-0, but they’re toughest opponent was probably Utah State.
It’s too early to tell just how good every team in the ACC outside of Clemson is. Wake Forest could be legit, or it could have just had an easy schedule. Syracuse has plenty of question marks of its own, and I don’t foresee a repeat 10 win season. The Orange could finish 6-6, but they could also finish 9-3. After a bye week this coming Saturday, it’s go time for SU. Hopefully we’ll see more of what we saw on Saturday.