Syracuse vs. Boston College, Rivalry-Renewed: Part II

Part I of my conversation with BC Interruption's Brian is up over there, in which we discuss the current atmosphere between the teams and fans when it comes to the "rivalry."  Go check that and then swing back here to read the stunning conclusion, where we break down each other's team and where we'll be record-wise when the Orange and Eagles battle in November.

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Sean: So about this 2010 meeting. Cuse fans are a little rusty on their Boston College stats. What kind of a team are we going to line up against in November? And who's knees are we going to want to focus on with our chopblocks?

Brian: Well, on offense, it all starts with first team All-ACC running back Montel Harris. Harris had a breakout year last year, emerging as the Eagles #1 rushing option. He finished the year with 1,457 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns on 308 carries. Montel has already broken both the freshman and sophomore rushing records for BC and has his sights set on the school's career rushing record. Harris runs in front of one of the best offensive lines in the conference, led by All-American and four-year starter Anthony Castonzo. Four of five starters return on the offensive line and nine of ten of the returning offensive linemen have significant experience.

At quarterback, all signs point to Dave Shinskie returning for his second year as the Eagles' signal caller. Shinskie is a 26 year-old minor league pitcher turned college QB that, while he didn't set the world ablaze last season, did help the Eagles win 8 games and make their eleventh consecutive bowl appearance. Shinskie struggled most last season against top 25 defenses and on the road. Hopefully he has improved this year, but if he slips, BC has a capable, though largely untested, backup in sophomore Mike Marscovetra.

On defense, you may have heard of a guy named Mark Herzlich, the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who missed all of last season fighting a rare bone cancer. Herzlich returns to the team and if you aren't cheering for this guy, you probably have no soul. Herzlich joins sophomore LB Luke Kuechly to form one of the best linebacking corps in the ACC. Depth on the defensive line remains a concern, but safety Wes Davis and cornerback DeLeon Gause lead a talented defensive back unit.

How about Syracuse? Who are the established playmakers on offense? Defense? Which player is most likely to turn in a Diamond Ferri-like performance in this year's regular season finale?

Sean: We only have one real established playmaker and we almost went into the season without him. Delone Carter returns after rushing for 1,000+ yards last season and we expect similar numbers from him this year. He had that whole punch-a-dude-in-the-face-cause-he-might-have-thrown-a-snowball-at-him incident and we're just glad to get that behind him. We also have Antwon Bailey who has been a very capable No. 2 and provides a little speed to offset Carter's power.

At the wide receiver position, you'll be glad to know that Mike Williams is gone. In his place we have a lot of guys that have sounded good on paper so far but we are still waiting to see how they develop. Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales and Van Chew are all returning wideouts that need to step up. However there's a lot of hope in transfer Aaron Weaver to step up and make an impact. The senior transferred from Hofstra where they cancelled the football program, so he was eligible to play right away. He could end up being a steal.

Quarterback Ryan Nassib is finally taking his place as our guy after almost doing so last year before Dukey McFlopenstein took his spot. It probably worked out for the best as Nassib needed another year of polish and it's not like we were gonna go 10-2 with him instead. We expect him to learn on the job and be a competent quarterback out there. But we're not expecting 400 yard, 4 TD games...yet.

Defensively, the Orange lost a big name (DL Arthur Jones) but the defense might be the best it's been in years, which isn't saying too much I know. The D-line is one of the deepest units on the team, with Art's younger brother Chandler ready to take over. He'll line up next to Andrew Lewis, Mikhail "Yes, Todd's My Brother" Marinovich and a Juco transfer Deon Goggins, whom a lot of people are salivating over.

The linebacking core is definitely the highlight of the squad this year. Featuring defensive captain Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, the third spot will be filled either by incumbent Ryan Gillum or freshman Marquis Sprill, who's making a run in camp. The WLB spot has been a Spinal Tap Drummer type of position for us the last couple years so it would be nice to lock down someone quickly.

On paper, the defensive secondary is strong. CB Mike Holmes is an All-Big East talent and sophomores Shamarko Thomas and Phlilp Thomas are stars in the making. Whether or not it translates on the field, we'll see. This has been an extremely-weak area for us.

If you want to know who the "star" of Syracuse football is going to be, the smart money would probably be on Rob Long. By all accounts he's one of the best punters in schools history and he spends a lot of time doing what he earned a scholarship to do, sadly. Sophomore kicker Ryan Lichtenstein has issues with leg strength but he's already proven he's clutch, having hit a time-expiring kick to beat Northwestern in the Dome last year.

As for who's going to pull a Diamond Ferri on you guys...you have to go with Dorian Graham. Graham has been playing DB until this season when he was switched to WR. He's the fastest guy on the field and he'll almost certainly be involved with kick returns. If anyone is going to score TDs at-will against Boston College from all sides of the game...it's him.

So when it's all said and done, what do you think Boston College and Syracuse will be playing for? Will BC be playing for bowl positioning? Will they already have their spot in the ACC Championship wrapped up?

Brian: It sounds like Marrone has Syracuse on the upswing and the future of Syracuse football is bright. But I think that Syracuse may be still a few years away from competing in the Big East. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say the Orange will be at 4-7 or 5-6 going in the BC game. (Please, please, please beat UConn the week before). With two I-AA games on the schedule, bowl eligibility will be out of reach so Syracuse will be playing for nothing more than pride and bragging rights.

If I peer into my crystal ball, BC's motivation going into the Syracuse game remains cloudy for me. Just last year, we saw both ACC Championship Game participants -- Georgia Tech and Clemson -- drop games to their in-state rivals the week before the title game. BC will have either wrapped up the Atlantic Division the week before the Syracuse game, or be out of the running pretty early on as the Eagles have back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back ACC Atlantic Division games from October 9 through November 6. I like the Eagles chances to get back to the title game, largely due to the talent returning at RB, OL and on defense and a very favorable schedule (missing three ranked teams from the Coastal side of the ACC). I'm thinking 8-3 or (don't laugh) 9-2 heading into the Dome.

How about you? What are your expectations for this Syracuse team? How about for the Eagles?

Sean: My expectation for Syracuse is to either be 6-5 or 5-6 heading into the BC game. That might sound like insanity but hear me out. We're going to beat Akron, Maine and Colgate. And as for the Big East, Louisville is extremely winnable while Rutgers, South Florida and even West Virginia seem like viable upset opportunities. SU beat Rutgers last year and I feel like we're due to beat WVU or USF. If the Orange can somehow pull off six wins before the Boston College game, get ready for the most anticipated Syracuse football game in over five years. That it's against the Eagles would make it that much more intense.

As for where BC will be, I defer to you on this one. I haven't really been paying attention but from what I can tell you guys are expected to be pretty solid and much better than SU fans seemed to think before the season. I think it's fair to say you guys will be playing for bowl seeding at the very least. We hope to diminish your hopes as much as possible.

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