‘Cuse Countdown Analysts Predict Syracuse’s Matchup with UConn
Syracuse Football is riding high after beating Florida State at home for the first time. What will the team have to do to secure the “W” against UConn and get to 4-0 for the first time since 1991? The ‘Cuse Countdown analysts have answers.
Key to the Game: Run, Run & Run Some More
With a variety of guys who can move the ball on the ground, Syracuse has a clear advantage over UConn’s downright awful rushing defense. The Huskies are second to last in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing opponents an average of just over 298 yards in the first three weeks of the season. UConn gave up 199 yards on the ground last week to Rhode Island, which means the Orange should be able to effectively use their ground weapons on Saturday. Unless the Huskies can find a way to plug up those holes and stop the run, expect Eric Dungey and the rest of Syracuse’s rushers to have a field day.
Prediction: Syracuse 45-17
Averaging 49 points per contest so far this season, it seems safe to say the Orange offense is firing on all cylinders. With how poor UConn’s defense has been performing this year, Eric Dungey could be in for a big day through the air and on the ground, as the Huskies have allowed 375 yards through the air on average to opponents this season. Coming off a great performance against FSU, if the Syracuse defense can manage to make just a few stops and find a way to get pressure on David Pindell, the Orange should come out of this one with an easy win.
Key to the Game: Stay Focused
It’d be easy for Syracuse to look past this week’s game against UConn and focus on Clemson, a team hungry for revenge after last year’s upset. After all, the Orange need all the momentum they can get heading to Death Valley. Advancing to 4-0 for the first time since 1991 would be a huge confidence booster. However, having an upset at home wouldn’t help their case. The Orange need to focus on the task at hand: defeating Connecticut. The Huskies are coming off a win last week against URI. While they’ve had a less than stellar season so far, Head Coach Randy Edsall is quite familiar with Syracuse. Don’t expect the former Orange quarterback and coach to go down without a fight. The ‘Cuse needs to treat this game like any other, scoring often and making key defensive plays. This approach has worked for Syracuse so far and will continue to work if the Orange stay focused.
Prediction: Syracuse 41-10
UConn’s biggest asset is dual-threat quarterback David Pindell. The senior threw for a career-high 308 yards and rushed for 137 yards last week against URI. While impressive, the Huskies only beat the FCS team by one touchdown. Syracuse’s defense has improved immensely since week one, forcing 6 sacks and 4 interceptions in the last two games. There’s no sign of the Orange slowing down defensively. On the other hand, UConn’s primarily freshmen defense has struggled. The Huskies have allowed 56 points per game and given up 2,000 total offensive yards in just three games. Between Eric Dungey, Jamal Custis and breakout freshman like Jarveon Howard, the ‘Cuse offense should have no issue overpowering UConn. As long Syracuse stays focused, this game will be a walk in the park.
Key to the Game: Bring Back The Heisman Hype
Anything other than a Syracuse win would be a massive surprise. So it’s time to direct attention back to an early season storyline that disappeared for a week: Eric Dungey for Heisman. Dungey’s heisman odds soared after the Wagner game. But after injury forced Dungey out of last week’s FSU game, the hype train was halted. Dungey is a go for this Saturday, though. He gets a weak Huskies defense and a chance to lead Syracuse to a 4-0 record. If all goes well, the heisman buzz will begin to crescendo once again. Let’s face it… there’s nothing that could possibly make this season more fun.
Prediction: Syracuse 61-18
I’ve predicted high totals for all three games thus far, and I’m batting .666. UConn has yet to hold an opponent under 50 points and Syracuse’s up-tempo offense is peaking. So I’m going back to the well on ludicrously high Orange point totals. Even if Cuse runs up the score, there are a few storylines to keep an eye on. Freshman running back Jarveon Howard has rushed for 126 yards on 18 attempts. How much longer does Howard need to tear it up before Babers adjusts the depth chart? The wide receiver position may also need an injection of youth. Nykeim Johnson has outgained Sean Riley and Devin Butler despite getting way less opportunity (Johnson didn’t play against Western Michigan). SU wins this game and the young guns shine just in time for the biggest test of the season against Clemson.
Key to the Game: Keep Dungey Safe
Eric Dungey is dealing with injury issues again. He already had scares in 2 of the first 3 games this season and was pulled before halftime in a 6-0 game against FSU with what Dino Babers described as “blurry vision.” Dungey is expected to start against the Huskies, but if SU builds up an early lead, he shouldn’t be in for long. Tommy Devito proved he can manage a game well after his second half performance against the Seminoles that earned him ACC Rookie of the Week, and he can certainly go the distance against a putrid UCONN defense. The same cannot be said for Clemson. The only way the Orange will be able to go into Death Valley and pull off an upset against the Tigers for a second straight year is if Eric Dungey is at full strength in that game; Devito has no chance of beating the Tigers at this early stage of his career. The best thing Syracuse can do against UCONN is make sure Dungey is healthy and ready going into Death Valley next week.
Prediction: Syracuse 61-20
This game is a gimme. The Orange are favored by 27.5 points, at home, and playing against a UCONN team that has arguably the nation’s worst defense. Even if Tommy Devito is in at QB for the majority of this game, the Syracuse offense should put up videogame numbers. Devito took a major step forward against Florida State and finally flashed the potential Syracuse fans and coaches have been raving about. Jarveon Howard’s breakout performance against the Seminoles gives the Orange a legitimate three-headed monster in the backfield, and this receiving corps hasn’t seemed to miss a beat following the departures of Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips. Add in a defense which stole the show in Week 3, getting constant pressure on Deondre Francois, limiting Cam Akers’s gains and finally showing somewhat decent secondary coverage, and it is not an overreaction to call this the best SU team Dino Babers has had. Expect this team to steamroll UCONN and head to the ACC goliath Clemson at 4-0.
Key to the Game: Have Fun
UConn represents the last reprieve for Syracuse before it sinks into the depths of ACC play. The Orange have cruised past lesser opponents in their first three wins. They haven’t trailed once this season. The key on Saturday is to enjoy that domination while it lasts. Enjoy Jarveon Howard galavanting past the Husky defense in the second half. Enjoy the defensive line getting consistent pressure. Enjoy being the better football team for 60 more minutes because that beautiful bubble of being unbeatable will pop in Death Valley.
Prediction: 55-10 Syracuse
Syracuse is the better team in all three phases of the game. While SU’s defense is not elite, and may not even be all that good, UConn brings a horrendous defense that has yet to slow any opponent down. On offense, the Orange have been consistently dominant. Whenever Dino Babers switches from Eric Dungey to Tommy Devito, after last week, it appears a drop off is unlikely. Special teams is closer, but the inexperience that plagues the UConn defense doesn’t bode well for the Huskies. Syracuse blocked two punts this season already. This game will not be close. The Orange will cover the 27.5 point spread.
Key to the Game: Don’t Get Caught Looking Ahead
Coming off the big win against Florida State, things are beginning to enter uncharted territory for Syracuse in the Dino Babers era. The Orange are 3-0 for the first time since the end of the Scott Shafer era and they beat the Seminoles for the first time since 1966. There’s another big matchup next week against Clemson in a rematch of last season’s stunning upset, but Syracuse can’t afford to overlook UConn beforehand. The Orange are huge favorites at home and are expected to cruise into a meeting of undefeated teams versus Clemson, which makes this a quintessential “trap game.” The Huskies are by no means good, having been pushed to the brink against FCS foe Rhode Island last week, but if Syracuse focuses too much on the Clemson game, starts slow and plays sloppy, things could get interesting in the Dome.
Prediction: 51-14 Syracuse
UConn is dreadful on defense, allowing a whopping 55.7 points per game, including 49 last week to an average FCS team in Rhode Island. However, their offense can still be potent thanks to QB David Pindell, one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the nation. Syracuse QB Eric Dungey is expected to play following an eye injury suffered against Florida State, but it shouldn’t matter who starts for the Orange given backup QB Tommy Devito’s confidence in leading the offense during the second half against FSU. SU’s fast-paced offense will exhaust and overwhelm the Huskies, and Syracuse’s drastically improved defense will continue to move past their disappointing season opener. If Syracuse doesn’t win this game by at least three possessions, then the team and the fans should be disappointed. However, as long as Syracuse keeps their attention focused on UConn, the Orange will be fine.
Key to the Game: Just Make One Stop on Defense
Syracuse welcomes a familiar face to the Carrier Dome: current UCONN head coach and former SU quarterback and coach Randy Edsall. While Edsall studied under Tom Coughlin through his tenure in Central New York and Boston College, those lessons and skill sets must come in handy, and then some, against the Orange’s 12th-ranked scoring defense in the nation. And the SU attack, whether its led by Eric Dungey or Tommy DeVito, isn’t the scary aspect of this matchup for Connecticut. That part that is frightening is how putrid the Huskies defense is. UCONN has surrendered more than 2,000 yards of offense through three games, a feat that hasn’t been done since the turn of the century. The team has utilized a nation-high 21 players on the defensive side so far this season, and no combination has worked. All SU is tasked to do is halt the UCONN attack once, and the offense can light up the scoreboard as much as it wants.
Prediction: Syracuse 51-21
UCONN has garnered much better play behind the center this season, as dual-threat quarterback David Pindell has thrown just three interceptions in 89 attempts and accounted for six touchdowns last week against Rhode Island. The senior, who transferred from Lackawanna College in Scranton, PA, has nice touch on passes down the center of the field, but struggles otherwise inside the pocket. Pindell would have to go tit-for-tat with Dino Babers’ offense, and there is no feasible way this young, inexperienced Connecticut team, on the road much less, can stick with Syracuse. If Cuse keeps their starters in for all four quarters, that score prediction could be higher, but I think the Orange might not utilize all the juice in its arsenal. Get the job done and let’s move onto the next week.
Key to the game: Don’t Get Caught Looking Ahead!
As Connecticut is sandwiched between two perennial powerhouses on the Syracuse football schedule, it could be easy for the Huskies to be overlooked. After last week’s win over Florida State and an upcoming trip to Clemson, UConn does not stand out as an important game. If the Orange falls to UConn, it cancels out the importance of last weekend’s victory. Syracuse needs to keep its focus on this week, as in its search for bowl eligibility, each win counts the same.
Prediction: Syracuse 51-10
Connecticut is simply not a good football team. This is going to be a simple week for Syracuse and I cannot see this one being close. I think the Orange jumps on UConn early and things will not change much as the game goes on. The Huskies allow nearly 56 points per game and I do not see that number falling much, if at all. Syracuse will head down to Clemson next week a perfect 4-0, ideally for SU, they can stay healthy in this one and bring a full lineup down south.