After last weekend’s 16-6 loss to Clemson, Syracuse must win three of its last four games of the season to reach a bowl game. SU hosts North Carolina State today in what looks on paper to be the easiest game of its last four. The Wolfpack ranks second to last in the ACC in total defense and is yet to record a conference win. If Scott Shafer’s team really is good enough to reach a bowl, then they win this game.
The key to victory for Syracuse is to not let NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett get into a rhythm. Brissett has struggled these last few weeks but is capable of putting up numbers similar to the stats Maryland quarterback CJ Brown had against SU earlier this season (Brissett actually has better stats than Brown does so far this year). Brissett’s yards, completion percentage, and touchdown passes have all noticeably decreased since the Wolpack began its conference schedule, but NC State’s quarterback definitely has the tools to hurt Syracuse in this game.
On the other side, SU quarterback AJ Long can redeem himself today after a measly 12-of-27 for 82 yards and two interception display against Clemson last week. To be fair to Long, the Tigers give up the second fewest passing yards per game in the ACC at 167.3, but his performance was still nowhere near good enough. It should get a little easier today for Long; NC State allows over 200 yards in the air per game.
Offensive coordinator Tim Lester will want to see a similar display to the one Long had two weeks ago against Wake Forest. The true freshman did not put up numbers that were particularly sexy that day (22-of-32 for 172 yards and a rushing score), but he did manage the game well and did not turn the ball over. Against NC State it is important Long does more of the same to put Syracuse in a position to win even though receivers Ashton Broyld and Brisley Estime will not play today (the pair also were out at Wake).
Posted: Connor Morrissette