Obviously this season hasn’t gone to plan for Syracuse football. Looking ahead to the remaining four games, what once looked like a stroll to a bowl game is starting to look like a semi-gauntlet.
On Saturday Syracuse hosts Boston College who is 4-4 (2-3 ACC). The Eagles were on the receiving end of a 52 point spanking by Clemson last week, but prior to that defeated NC State 45-24. Remember that’s a Wolfpack squad that beat Syracuse 16-10. Running back AJ Dillon is already over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season and has found paydirt 11 times through the air and ground. Syracuse needs to force BC to beat them with somebody besides Dillon. But we only have to look to this past weekend to determine if this is realistic. SU’s goal heading into the Florida State matchup was to get the ball out of the hands of Cam Akers and make someone else beat them. Akers ended up running for four touchdowns.
Moving on to the next week, the Orange are mercifully on bye as they prepare for Duke and the remaining three games on the schedule. On the third Saturday of November SU travels down to Durham where the Blue Devils have lost just once this year. That was a three point loss to Pittsburgh. This is a winnable game for the Orange, and maybe their last opportunity to turn the season around and end the year on a high note. Duke splits carries at running back, and doesn’t have a star receiver. Instead quarterback Quentin Harris spreads the ball around. But he’s only thrown for 1500 yards, for comparison Tommy DeVito’s thrown for almost 300 yards more and he’s had a less than stellar season. While the offense is anemic, Duke’s defense gets to the quarterback – words that should jolt DeVito and Dino Babers awake at night. One guy to keep an eye on is junior defensive end Victor Dimukeje who has 6.5 sacks this season.
SU stays on the road the next week when it travels to Louisville. Scott Satterfield has done a great job of quickly turning the Cardinals around. He has his team sitting at 5-3 with wins over Wake Forest, Virginia, and Boston College. This isn’t an unbeatable Louisville team, although it is one of the better squads in the ACC. The Cardinals biggest threat is running back Javian Hawkins who’s closing in on 1,000 yards on the ground. On defense, it’s more of a team effort – and luckily for SU, the Cardinals don’t apply much pressure on quarterback’s. They only have 18 sacks this season.
Syracuse finishes the year at home against a 6-1 Wake Forest team. Granted, the Demon Deacons started the season with a schedule as threatening as plushy teddy bears. The next three weeks against NC State, Virginia Tech, and Clemson will be much more revealing of how good this team is. When these two squads line up, SU needs to focus on quarterback Jamie Newman who’s thrown for over 1700 yards, and top receiver Sage Surratt who’s caught almost 900 yards worth of passes.
Until Syracuse beats a Power 5 opponent, it will be viewed as an underdog. And if they lose every ACC game, well I’m hearing rumors of the basketball season being right around the corner.