John: (4-1): Wake Forest 27, Syracuse 23
The Demon Deacons won’t run away with this game. Syracuse might have one of the best home field advantages in the nation and that will be apparent again on Saturday. SU’s offense will be just fine without Taj Harris, obviously you’d rather have him than not, but the run and short passing game can move the football.
The keys to an Orange win are to be as close to mistake free as possible (less than five penalties and one turnover if any), convert on at least 45% of third down opportunities, and don’t give up the big play. Wake Forest is a great team that’s why they’re ranked, but they’re a beatable team. The Loud House coupled with a big opportunity for a bounce back win will keep SU in the contest to the very end, but it won’t be enough.
Cam: (3-2): Syracuse 31, Wake Forest 24
As much as this game is framed as SU against a top 25 opponent, I think it’ll be much closer than advertised. Syracuse matches up well with how Wake Forest moves the ball downfield. Sam Hartman will have his moments and that’s ok, but the secondary will have a better grasp on the amount of pass plays. In the loss at FSU, the Orange scrambled between deciphering RPOs, but because the Demon Deacons play in a more pass-first type system, it bodes well for SU.
Both the secondary and the offense will prosper. Garrett Shrader has proven that his mobility opens lanes in the passing game and for Sean Tucker. Although the Deacs are best at run stoppage and worse in the secondary, they’ll have to juggle both facets all afternoon with how fresh Shrader is to the system. With no Taj Harris, the game plan is wide open for Sterlin Gilbert and the rest of the offense to capitalize. Ultimately, the home crowd is the difference that’ll will SU’s defense to the finish line and further solidify Shrader and Tucker as one the best mobile, backfield tandems in the conference, and maybe the country.
Ian (3-2): Wake Forest 31, Syracuse 17
Syracuse needs to come back strong from what was a pretty embarrassing loss against Florida State. Unfortunately, this Wake Forest team is not the squad to face when a rebound is needed. The Demon Deacs can put up points in bunches, and they do it well against SU, averaging 39 points and over 400 yards of offense over the last four contests. Wake puts up 186 rushing yards and 259 passing yards per game, and there are weapons all over the place.
Quarterback Sam Hartman is a sophomore in his fourth year with the program and knows the scheme inside and out. Christian Beal-Smith and Justice Ellison form the usual two-headed monster in the Demon Deacon backfield, and Jaquarii Roberson is an All-ACC talent on the outside. Syracuse’s defense is much improved from a year ago, but there’s no way it can keep Wake’s veteran unit out of the end zone. The Orange don’t have enough juice offensively to keep up, especially without Taj Harris. Expect another strong showing from Sean Tucker, but Garrett Shrader will struggle in third-and-long against a solid pass rush.
Carter: (3-2): Wake Forest 34, Syracuse 13
Leave it to Syracuse to beat an actually good team one week and then lose to Florida State the next. Last week’s dud might just be the latest symptom of a team that’s still clearing out the cobwebs after a 1-10 year and a tee-ball tough early season schedule. Losing to the ‘Noles cost the Orange all the credibility and momentum they had accumulated following the Liberty game, and this week’s matchup with a suddenly scary Wake Forest squad will show if hardship sparks or sinks SU.
Unfortunately, I’m going with the latter. Brent Axe might not think so, but this Wake team is probably not beatable for Syracuse. WF is ranked No. 19 for a reason. The only thing the Deacs don’t do all that well is defend the pass, but Syracuse just threw for only 150 yards against FSU’s awful secondary. Ultimately, that won’t matter much. Give me big days from Deacs QB Sam Hartman and RB Christian Beal while SU takes its worst beating of the year.
Matt (3-2): Wake Forest 34, Syracuse 24
Really not sure why people around the SU football landscape are acting like this is a win for the Orange. Last week, they lost a game against a team that couldn’t beat Jacksonville State. Not to mention Syracuse will go its second game and the rest of the season without Taj Harris as he’s moved on. Has Wake Forest faced the best competition this year? Nope. Has Syracuse proven it can take care of business against teams that are beatable? Nope. Examples: Rutgers, FSU. Sam Hartman and company are going to roll over the Orange on family weekend.
Jaron (2-3): Wake Forest 34, Syracuse 24
Wake Forest is one of the biggest surprises in the ACC this year. After plenty of seasons of mediocracy, the Demon Deacons are on a roll, riding the arm of Sam Hartman and the legs of Christian Beal-Smith. Now, Syracuse struggled against Florida State because of a dual-threat QB and Hartman isn’t that. So, that won’t be the Orange’s downfall this weekend.
Instead, the Deacs will wear down the SU secondary and win this game through the air. I’m interested in seeing how WF handles Syracuse’s run game, especially now that they have two games of tape on the Tucker/Shrader duo. Either way, Wake Forest is the better team so they should win this. The only thing that could save Syracuse is a loud Dome on Family Weekend.
Brad (2-3): Syracuse 24, Wake Forest 21
The Florida State loss is a better ACC litmus test than most people think. FSU has some good athletes on defense and the SU offense proved an ability to move the ball through the air. Garrett Shrader still hasn’t proven himself as an elite passer and that’s alright. He’s not an elite passer, but if he can establish the run then he doesn’t have to be an elite passer. The RPO worked wonders in the first two weeks under Shrader. Expect the defense to be a lot better at home too.