Jaron (0-0): North Carolina 38, Syracuse 13
Let’s be honest here – there is no reason to pick Syracuse today. North Carolina is ranked #18 in the country and the Orange are piecing together a depth chart. A former defensive lineman (turned tight end, turned fullback) is now SU’s starting left guard. The top two running backs have opted out of the season. A starting linebacker isn’t on the depth chart because he was driving while impaired by drugs. And on top of all of that, Syracuse is trying to break in two new coordinators amid a global pandemic and shortened preseason. UNC has the second best quarterback in the ACC in Sam Howell, a two headed monster in the backfield with Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, and a top-tier defense led by an All-ACC First Teamer in Chaz Surratt. The Orange are 21-point underdogs for a reason. Sorry to be so negative, but North Carolina is going to have its way with Syracuse today.
Ian (0-0): North Carolina 31, Syracuse 10
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The North Carolina offense is extremely potent. No matter how talented the SU secondary is, or how well they play, UNC is going to find the end zone. The backfield tandem of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams is going to seriously test the open-field tackling skills of Mikel Jones, Geoff Cartin-Arku, and whoever starts at the third linebacker spot. Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown could both be first team all-ACC receivers, and it gets even easier when they have freshman All-American Sam Howell slinging the rock. Chances are UNC scores a bunch early, then Mack Brown pulls his prize QB and puts in the backups. However, Syracuse will snag a late field goal to cover the 23.5 point spread.
John (0-0): North Carolina 37, Syracuse 13
Like Miami on Thursday night, UNC gets off to a slow start, but eventually comes alive and doesn’t slow down. I think Syracuse keeps it close going into the half but eventually Carolina figures out a way to counter SU’s defense. Sam Howell will live up to the hype and lead this vaunted offense to a big third quarter lead then go conservative from there. The Orange put up a good fight but with a lot of youth and lack of depth at several positions eventually ran out of gas. The D-line will hang in there but the linebackers miss keyholes and tackles allowing big plays and Howell takes full advantage. Of course, I hope I’m wrong, Go Orange!
Thomas (0-0): North Carolina 42, Syracuse 17
After our recent Fizz Feedback polls, it’s clear that Syracuse fans are optimistic about the season. I am not. In its first match-up, SU faces the second-best quarterback in the ACC in Sam Howell. As a freshman last year, Howell threw 38 touchdown passes, an FBS record. His top two receivers, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, who each finished 2019 with over 1,000 receiving yards also return. And the Tar Heels top two running backs are back as well. Meanwhile, Syracuse is now starting its third string running back, Jawhar Jordan, after a couple of opt outs. On the offensive line, former fullback Chris Elmore is starting at left guard. On the other side of the ball, the defense didn’t have much time to learn Tony White’s 3-3-5 scheme, which is a bad sign heading into a game against a high-octane offense. This game could get away from the Orange quickly down in Chapel Hill.
Gill (0-0): North Carolina 41, Syracuse 19
When Tommy DeVito implied, while speaking with the media, that predictions at this point are a “comical” activity, he was right. UNC coach Mack Brown echoed similar sentiment when he pointed out, “we’ll now see if the hype is real,” after playing Syracuse. It’s been the wackiest offseason in college football history, with very little practice time and a humongous amount of distractions. Who knows what’s in store.
The facts remain: UNC’s offense is stacked. An NFL hopeful Sam Howell at QB, a 1,000 yard rusher in Michael Carter, and two 1,000 yard receivers in Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown. As I said in the season preview, I’m bullish on the Syracuse defense….. late in the season. It doesn’t matter how much talent they have. They’re set up for failure with a completely new scheme, virtually zero experience at the linebacker position, and a complete unknown at corner in Garrett Williams. Expect Howell to target the redshirt freshman corner against Newsome or Brown.
UNC is going to put up big points. I highly doubt the Orange will be able to keep up.
Harrison (0-0): North Carolina 31, Syracuse 17
Syracuse heads down the coast to start its 2020 campaign, and their work will immediately be cut out for them, right of the bat. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 18 in the country and return quarterback Sam Howell, who led the entire ACC in passing touchdowns last season. For the Orange, a number of questions exist heading into this year — many of which could be answered Saturday afternoon. All things considered, it’s North Carolina who seems a bit more poised for success in the season opener, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Tar Heels walk away as winners by at least two touchdowns. For the Orange’s sake, let’s certainly hope I’m proven wrong.
Matt (0-0): North Carolina 36, Syracuse 14
Things don’t look bright for Syracuse today. A couple key running backs opted out, Chris Elmore is today’s starting left guard, things just don’t seem hopeful for the Orange. Not to mention the talent on the roster of the Tar Heels. SU could certainly be going up against this year’s Heisman trophy winner in Sam Howell. Syracuse will start this season in the wrong column.
Brad (0-0): North Carolina 35, Syracuse 17
There is no reason for Syracuse to win this game. The Orange offense is depleted with Jarveon Howard and Abdul Adams opting out and projected starting left guard Davota Davis on the shelf until October. That, combined with the presence of All-ACC preseason linebacker Chazz Surratt for the Tar Heels, will prevent SU from running the ball. Reigning All-ACC second team quarterback Sam Howell is poised for another big season, but the 3-3-5 defense may give him some problems. For that reason, Syracuse may linger in the ballgame for a little while. In the end, though, talent rules.