JOHN (5-2) (EXEMPT FROM PREDICTION):
This is an extremely tough game for Syracuse. Two teams trending in opposite directions. SU losing three straight and losing starters left and right. Meanwhile, FSU has won back-to-back and has played ultra complimentary ball. The Noles are one of four teams in the country that ranks in the top 20 for both total offense and defense. The Seminoles have an offense which leads the nation in explosive plays with 69 of 20 yards or more. Additionally, FSU has a three-headed snake at running back that can rip defenses to shreds. What Syracuse has going for it is a defense that has allowed the least amount of explosive plays in the nation. Also, the orange are back in the Dome where they are 5-1 this year. FSU has all the momentum and has turned the corner, so I would advise SU fans not to get their hopes up too high on senior day.
CAM (6-1) (EXEMPT FROM PREDICTION):
Syracuse’s season is spiraling downward and it goes far beyond the three straight losses. Garrett Shrader’s health is as clear as Carlos Del-Rio Wilson’s comfortability in the pocket, no matter what he said after the Pitt game. Sean Tucker looks coy in the backfield and the scheme of running him up the middle is far from the team’s best option. The wide receiver room is no longer getting bailed out by great QB play, and the inconsistencies and lack of raw talent are finally showing. Not saying the WR room isn’t talented, but the main issue revolves around their inability to shake off talented ACC defensive backs. Tack on the six sacks Pitt recorded last week and the offensive line is slowly falling apart. Overall, it’s a train wreck.
On the defensive side, the Cuse is holding its own and proving that through a plethora of injuries, they can still hang with top offenses in the nation. The issue is on the defensive line. Without Terry Lockett, Kevon Darton isn’t a big enough presence and the additions of Kevin Jobity and Elijah Fuentes-Cundiff are too youthful for a defense so talented elsewhere. SU has allowed 700 yards on the ground over the last three games and that shouldn’t change against Trey Benson and his fourth best rushing clip in the conference.
All that being said, the Orange are 5-1 at home and on senior day, the amount of heart shown on Saturday shouldn’t be shortchanged. But as much as fight and desire takes a team far, FSU has quarterback Jordan Travis, who has a 4-1 TD-INT ratio and over 200 yards on the ground, and the Seminoles have won two straight by a combined score of 86-19.
It’s a game primed to go FSU’s way, but SU was also not expected to start 6-0 and give Clemson a run for its money. Call this game a tossup for the time being and primetime is set to decide it.
ETHAN (8-1): Florida State 31, Syracuse 21
The magic is gone, hope is lost, and Syracuse is back to what we thought they were. A team that isn’t very talented but had a chance to squeak out a couple of wins on the schedule. Once this team started losing it was going to snowball, it was just a matter of when that was going to start, and for Dino Babers, if it had started with Purdue he probably would be out of a job this season. The Seminoles are far more talented and have the momentum coming into this game after romping rival Miami last week. Jordan Travis is much better than last season and the Syracuse defense is too decimated to hold off the FSU offense. I like the ‘Noles to cover the touchdown spread and win big in the Dome.
FRANCESCO (3-1): Florida State 27, Syracuse 17
This is less about the Seminoles and more about an Orange team that is too depleted to compete with a good team. FSU comes in ranked, and, although Syracuse has been ranked for a month, this version of SU is not the same. Injuries have taken a toll on both sides of the ball. That’s why Dino Babers doesn’t win in November. It’s all about recruiting. When there’s a lack of depth, you can’t compete late in the season when the attrition starts to set in. Even though it’s at home, even though it’s senior day, Syracuse just doesn’t have the fire power to keep up with Florida State.
CARTER (5-2): Florida State 35, Syracuse 23
How big does Syracuse’s October 15th victory over shorthanded NC State look in hindsight? Without it, the Orange would be feeling heavy pressure at 5-4 with a revitalized Florida State squad coming to town this Saturday. Funnily enough, it was the ‘Noles who knocked NC State quarterback Devin Leary out ahead of the Syracuse matchup – and who now look primed to hand the ‘Cuse another tough blow several weeks after the fact.
FSU’s one-two-three punch of quarterback Jordan Travis (2,259 passing yards, 17 TD), Oregon transfer Trey Benson (87 carries, 611 yards) and Lawrance Toafili (80 carries, 367 yards) lead an offense that ranks third in passing in the ACC and tops in rushing. That’s a terrible recipe for SU’s beleaguered defense to face, especially as it staggers in with three opening day starters out for the year and plenty of other contributors banged up. Unless SU can flip the script and play clock-ball with Sean Tucker (he of the mere 31 carries the last three games) behind a shuffled offensive line and protect whoever starts at quarterback, Syracuse’s lack of run-stopping may doom it from the jump. SU couldn’t control the clock, get off the field, or establish its gameplan against the last three teams it’s lost to, and it won’t win Saturday if Florida State forces it into the same box. At this point, I’m convinced the Seminoles will do so until proven otherwise.
IAN (4-2): Florida State 24, Syracuse 17
It just feels like another game where the Orange will be out-gained on the ground. The Treshaun Ward-Trey Benson combo is one of the best backfield tandems in college football, producing gains of 10 or more yards on almost 20% of their carries. Quarterback Jordan Travis is also a running threat, and makes good decisions in the passing game to find an improving stable of receivers. Keep an eye out for Oregon transfer Mycah Pittman in the slot. With a weak Syracuse D-line, FSU should ground and pound, just like the previous three weeks.
On the other side, former UAlbany Great Dane Jared Verse is a top-10 pick in the making, and he’s coming back to the Empire State to terrorize the Orange. Although the ‘Noles have gone through ups and downs as a program, they’ve always pumped out D-line talent. Expect another slow day for Sean Tucker, and if Garrett Shrader can’t play, another surefire grind of an offense.
LIAM (6-3): Florida State 27, Syracuse 20
If things couldn’t get any worse for the Orange, the Seminoles’ strengths do not bode well for Dino Babers and company. FSU leads the conference in rushing yards per game, and it’s no secret SU’s run D has been putrid the past few weeks. At this point what expectations can you have?
That being said, there is one aspect of the game that isn’t being talked about enough. That aspect is that Senior Night is scheduled to take place. Regardless of the opponent, there is always a more emotional feel to the final home game of the regular season. One more ride for all the seniors, both them and their teammates should have some extra juice flowing, and the crowd will be quick to show the seniors some love.
While those factors may swing some momentum toward Syracuse, it won’t be enough to secure a victory. The Seminoles’ well-balanced attack will be too tough for the Orange to handle. SU picks up its fourth consecutive loss.