The Syracuse Orange (2-3) head to High Point Solution Whatever That Is Stadium on Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-0). If this were 1998, we'd all know how everyone's prediction would go. Unfortunately, it's 2012. So let's see what the TNIAAM staff had to say for themselves before you make your prediction...
I see Rutgers as a stronger version of the Pittsburgh team that we just faced. Both teams run similar style offenses, though I'd take Pitt's running backs over Jawan Jamison, and I think that Gary Nova is a higher upside version of Tino Sunseri. Both teams also feature big, athletic receivers; Keon Lyn put forth a valiant effort against Mike Shanahan, and I hope that he's ready to repeat that performance against Brandon Coleman. The Scarlet Knights are going to try to pound the ball with Jamison, much like Pitt did, so another strong effort by our front seven would go a long way towards beating Rutgers. I think we're up for it, and with a fully capable Brandon Reddish, I think our pass coverage should be better than it was last week.
Syracuse - 24, Rutgers - 21
With our recent offensive struggles, we're going to have to rely on a huge game from our (likely) #SHAMARKO-less defense against an extremely well-balanced Rutgers offense that features a trio of NFL-sized receivers in Brandon Coleman, Tim Wright, and Mark Harrison. Nearly half-way into the season, Rutgers has looked to me like the best team in the Big East. I just can't see us pulling out a win here, even though absolutely nothing would make me happier.
Rutgers 27, Syracuse 17
I don't believe in Rutgers' 5-0 record, but I've said that before. it doesn't mean they're not a good team. It just means that the three-win deficit between Rutgers and Syracuse is mostly about perception, not fact. Overall, the Scarlet Knights' defense is obviously very good, and honestly, I'm not sure we'll even be able to run on them. The key will be the passing game. Rutgers' pass defense is actually pretty poor (they're ranked 98th in yards allowed per game), so we should be able to throw it wherever we damn well please. If Nassib can eliminate mistakes, I like our chances of winning a shooutout.
Prediction: Syracuse 36, Rutgers 29
PREDICTION: A football will happen. I will drink beers in New Jersey and, likely, complain about it until I am scolded for being a rotten child of 32 years. I'm okay with that, though, because shut up, jerkface.
SCORE: 24-13, Rutgers (Puke.)
I think we can all expect the usual when it comes to these two playing each other -- ugly. Now, will that be attributed to good defense or just sloppy play? I don't know, but I'm betting it will probably be a little from column A and a little from column B. Either way, I think the Scarlet Knights defense, and slight home field advantage, will be too much for the Orange. SU will have its shots (especially if the O-Line can provide time for Ryan Nassib), but I'll go...
Rutgers 19 - Syracuse 13
This Syracuse team is getting tougher to predict as the weeks go by. Was the high-flying, pass happy offense from the Northwestern game just an aberration? Will teams be prepared for this new "tank" formation now that they've seen it in action? Will the defense's "bend but don't break" philosophy continue to work against conference teams familiar with their style and personnel? Who knows. I'd like to think they will continue to improve, but Rutgers is likely better than anyone they've faced outside of USC. The Scarlet Knights are unbeaten, and even though they haven't played anyone impressive 5-0 is still 5-0.
Rutgers 20, Syracuse 17
Syracuse 21, Rutgers 17
Last week I said that the Pittsburgh game was a must-win for hope. They won the game and so hope is not lost. Certainly, the odds are stacked against Syracuse this week. The game is on the road in hostile territory against an undefeated opponent with a national ranking and stout defense. On paper, Rutgers should win this game. But I've been saying for weeks now that this is going to be one of those wacky Syracuse seasons where we win games we're not supposed to for reasons unexplainable and I think this is one of them.
It's going to be ugly. It's going to be low scoring. It's going to be what we've come to expect from Syracuse vs. Rutgers. And, as God intended, it will end with a Syracuse victory.
Syracuse 19 Rutgers 15.