‘Cuse Countdown Previews Saturday Matchup Against Wake Forest
Syracuse Football returns home after a devastating loss to Florida State in their opening conference matchup last weekend, to now face the undefeated, and 19th ranked team in the country, Wake Forest Demon Deacans. Our analysts for ‘Cuse Countdown are here to break down the afternoon matchup, and give their predictions.
Braden Reed: Wake Forest 27, Syracuse 17
Which version of this Syracuse defense are we going to see? The one that made likely first-round-pick Malik Willis look pedestrian? Or the one that made Florida State’s Jordan Travis look like a Heisman contender? If this team wants any prayer of winning on Saturday it needs to be the former. The offense has been improving, but still isn’t good enough to win a game in a shootout, which is exactly what we saw last weekend. Sean Tucker and Co. have been getting progressively better since Garrett Shrader took over as the starter, but the defense still needs to show up for this team to win games. Sure, this Orange team is trending in the right direction. If you told me at the beginning of the season that this team would be 3-2 at this point in the year I wouldn’t have believed you. But they’ve still got a ways to go before they can seriously challenge a top 20 team in the country. I’ve got the Demon Deacons staying perfect.
Ian Unsworth: 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.
Leo Silverman: Wake Forest 34, Syracuse 21
Wake Forest has one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC right now in Sam Hartman. Pair that with a defense that is great at getting to the quarterback and creating turnovers, Syracuse is in trouble. Wake Forest’s defense has had serious problems against the rush (currently giving up nearly 140 yards on the ground through five games), which plays great for Syracuse. Sean Tucker should come out the gate hot, and I expect the rushing attack to help SU keep the game close through the first half. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is tied at the break. The second half is where it gets messy. The Orange offense right now is too one dimensional, and leaning on the rush for an entire game won’t get you a win against a top 25 team. Combine that with the fact that Sam Hartman has been picking apart defenses all season, especially with the deep ball, and things will get ugly. Syracuse will put up a good fight, but in the end I see them stalling in the second half and falling to a Wake Forest team that is better prepared and much better on paper.
John Eads: Wake Forest 30, Syracuse 23
Wake Forest has its best team under Dave Clausen and maybe even ever. Here’s the thing though, the 19th-ranked Demon Deacons haven’t really been tested yet. Aside from cupcake non-conference wins, Wake has beaten Florida State and Louisville. Those tean don’t exactly amount to top-tier competition. By no means am I saying Syracuse top-tier competition either. However, this vaunted Demon Deacs offense will get tested by a stingy defensive unit. Don’t sleep on the fact that the contest is going down in the Dome. After SU took down Liberty a few weeks ago, Flames head coach Hugh Freeze admitted his team was discombobulated due to the noise. I think Wake Forest wins and covers with its plethora of offensive weapons and above average defense. However, the Orange 100% have an opportunity to pull another upset and at the very least will be in the game all the way to the final buzzer.
Joe Puccio: Wake Forest 28, Syracuse 17
The Deacs are hot. One of the best scoring offenses in the ACC is going to show their strength inside the Dome. Sam Hartman throws dimes with an 11:2 touchdown to interception ratio. I have a feeling Sam Hartman will throw an interception, but his ability to push the ball downfield and find the end zone will override any mistakes. On the other side, Wake Forest does a great job of stacking the box. This will be difficult for Syracuse running back Sean Tucker, who explodes in the second and third level. Don’t get me wrong, the Maxwell Award Watch List nominee will run for more than 130 yards, but I’m not confident the Orange’s heavy run offense is powering them over the Demon Deacons. I didn’t expect the ‘Cuse to get neutralized against Florida State. I expect a top-20 program to step up. Once the transfer QB Garrett Shrader has to air it out, the black and gold have a chance.
Spencer Pierce: Wake Forest 24, Syracuse 13
This week will be the furthest thing from easy for the Orange, especially for their secondary. Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman will present the Orange with problems through the air, assuming he continues his stellar play. Hartman will likely be the best passer the Orange see this season, so the true test will be on Ja’Had Carter, Garrett Williams, and of course, Duce Chestnut. As for how much I believe in the rest of the team, I’m not too sure. If the Orange can get their stops on defense, I think Shrader and Tucker will be able to pull the load in what I believe will be a (relatively) low scoring affair. With that being said, I think Wake Forest gets by the Orange handily, 24-13. A combination of a high powered offense on the WF side of the ball and the lack of versatility through the air from SU leads me to believe the Demon Deacons continue their impressive start to the season.
Ben Spector: Wake Forest 31, Syracuse 17
The Demon Deacons are hot! Wake is the only ACC team that is still undefeated and has been putting up almost forty points per game. I see Sam Hartman and Jaquarii Roberson exposing SU defensive backs Garrett Williams and Duce Chestnut. Hartman and Roberson have already connected for two this season, and that will double against the Orange. On the other side of the ball, Wake Forest should do something similar to what Florida State did: stack the box. Syracuse offensive coordinator Sterling Gilbert will have to find unique ways to give his star running back Sean Tucker the ball, and I just don’t see that happening. Plus, if Wake takes away the run game, SU’s Garrett Shrader will have a tough time passing against a defense that has intercepted the ball seven times this season. The Demon Deacons are the nineteenth ranked team in the country for a reason and will leave the Dome with another victory.