John (0-0): Syracuse 34, Ohio 23
This is a must win for Dino Babers and Company. You can’t follow up a 5-7 2019 season with a 1-10 2020 season and then lose the 2021 opener to a Mac team. No disrespect to my midwest friends but Syracuse is expected to be better as a power five team (unless its Liberty). At the same time, this is a Bobcats squad picked to finish 2nd in the Mac East behind Kent State and perhaps compete for the title.
Ohio has to overcome a coaching change although it shouldn’t matter much because Frank Solich’s right-hand man is taking over in former offensive coordinator Tim Albin. He has some nice pieces on the offensive side at the skill position but needs to find his quarterback in this game. Everything Ohio did in last year’s 2-1 stint was in a small sample size and against teams like Bowling Green, Akron, and Central Michigan.
Defensively, Ohio is very young and very inexperienced at several spots which will help SU get its offense going. In a back and forth battle I think the Orange get it done behind big games from Taj Harris in the slot and Sean Tucker on the ground. It’ll be interesting to see how the quarterback situation shakes out in this one.
Ian (0-0): Syracuse 27, Ohio 17
Ohio is a good team. Let’s not get this twisted. It’s a squad with 14 returning starters, a pro-caliber running back, and statistically, a great defense. However, the Bobcats only played three games last year. They have a new head coach. It’s tough to judge anything OU did last year. Syracuse should win this game purely on talent in the trenches alone. While De’Montre Tuggle and the Ohio rushing attack are extremely solid, the Orange are going into year two with Tony White’s 3-3-5 and returning eight of 11 starters. On the flip side, Tommy DeVito (or Garrett Shrader) should have plenty of time to throw, as Ohio only recorded four sacks last year. Neither team is going to hit many home runs in this game, but SU should control the line of scrimmage for most of the game.
Brad (0-0): Ohio 24, Syracuse 17
It’s a new season and a new opponent. But this game will come down to how Syracuse will defend the run. The Orange had the second-worst rushing defense in the game, allowing over 209 yards per contest. It’s the same front six responsible for last year’s struggles. McKinley Williams missed a lot of time in camp due to illness. The question is will he be able to get any push on the offensive line that is protecting De’Montre Tuggle and his six yards per carry. If the run is a staple of the Bobcat offense, the Syracuse offense is going to have to keep the defense off the field and fresh. Otherwise, it will be more of the same from last season.
Cam (0-0): Syracuse 31, Ohio 17
It’s all about accomplishing two things: establish the run on one end, and stop the run on the other.
It starts with the offensive line’s ability to halt Ohio’s experienced defensive front. If Airon Servais, Matthew Bergeron and Chris Bleich can hold the Bobcats to under three sacks, that’s a win. It’ll also open up holes past the line of scrimmage for Sean Tucker to capitalize on. This is key for an offense that has yet to find its identity, whether that’s run heavy, pass heavy, or a split between both. With Tucker running rampant, the QBs will take advantage of play-actions and give SU’s offense a weapon it so desperately needs to unlock.
It ends with the Orange’s rush defense. For the past couple years, Syracuse has surrendered over 200 yards per game. That needs to change. It’ll be a tall task against Ohio’s De’Montre Tuggle, who racked up over 134 yards a game last season (should be noted that this was only in a 3-game, shortened year). But one that SU can handle with switch ups in coverage on the defensive side, a stout and experienced D-line, and plenty of blitz packages for the young secondary.
Syracuse will accomplish both of these at the tune of a Tucker 110-yard performance and three defensive turnovers. Although SU didn’t pass the eye test last season, Ohio didn’t either, so the Orange should be able to claw to victory as the better team on paper.
Matt (0-0): Syracuse 24, Ohio 17
This may be some pre-season optimism on my end but, I’m just feeling good about the Orange being healthy. Tommy DeVito is back under center with a better offensive line in front of him. Sean Tucker has a year under his belt and a deeper RB room to support him. Taj Harris is looking to breakout in a way we haven’t seen before while attempting to break SU’s receiving yards record this season. There’s plenty to be excited about. What might damper that excitement is SU’s run defense. We’ve all seen that script, take it back to 2019’s awful BC loss for the best example. A.J. Dillon ran ALL OVER the Orange for 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It probably won’t be that bad but Demon’Tre Tuggle, Ohio’s biggest offensive weapon is a very talented back, look for him to be the number one option all game. If SU’s defense can show up and stop the run the Orange should be 1-0 to start the year.
Jaron (0-0): Ohio 27, Syracuse 21
This may turn out to be the most even game on Syracuse’s schedule. Now, I may just be saying that because it’s the first game of the season and we don’t know how these two teams will look. However, after doing some research Ohio and Syracuse are pretty even. The Bobcats went 2-1 last season, but played low-level MAC teams, and everyone already knows what happened to the Orange playing higher-level ACC schools. I do believe SU will be improved from a season ago, especially with a more experienced offensive line with Sean Tucker in the backfield and some budding stars on the defense. With that being said, Ohio is a run-heavy offense. De’Montre Tuggle is going to have his way with the poor SU rush defense and will find the back of the endzone a couple times. The Orange will make it interesting, but give me the Bobcats in the season opener.
Carter (0-0): Syracuse 26, Ohio 21
Out of all the Fizz record predictions for Syracuse in 2021, mine was the most dire at 2-10. However, one of the games I thought they’d win is this one against Ohio. My rationale comes down to coaching and Ohio’s defensive weakness vs. Syracuse’s strength. On the coaching side, longtime OU head coach Frank Solich is gone after 16 seasons and former offensive coordinator Tim Albin is in. Albin has been a coordinator at Ohio for a long time, but any new head coach deals with some growing pains. On the defensive side of the ball, the ‘Cats gave up 16.7 points per game last season in just three games played, but they squared up with awful competition and still gave up 194 yards per game on the ground. I can see Sean Tucker hitting the ground running – literally and figuratively – to carry an SU offense that’s still figuring some things out all the way to a Week 1 victory.