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This one has all the makings of a shootout. Cincinnati comes in as the Big East's leader in scoring offense, rushing offense and second to Syracuse in total offense. The Orange come in as the conference leader in passing offense as well. On the other side of the ball, while both the Bearcats and Orange are in the middle of the pack in total defense, Syracuse is 6th in rush defense and Cincy is dead last in pass defense. Expect Nassib to be slinging the rock like crazy. Expect Munchie Legaux and George Winn to run wild. Expect the scoreboard to light up like a Halloween jack-o-lantern.
Syracuse 38, Cincinnati 35
Syracuse has had a simple recipe for victory all season: reduce turnovers and run the ball effectively. Over the past two games, that strategy's worked to perfection, with 453 rushing yards, zero turnovers and two wins over that span. Can it work against Cincinnati, though? The Bearcats have only allowed 120.7 rushing yards per game against FBS competition, while forcing 14 turnovers in those same contests as well. Something has to give, and it may actually be Cincy's pass defense. With the running game shut down last week, Louisville shifted focus to the passing game and racked up 416 yards. If Syracuse is forced to do the same, I actually think they stand an even better chance to pull the upset.
Syracuse 34, Cincinnati 32
I know that Cincinnati has kicked a bunch of tin cans so far this year, but Munchie Legaux is a pain in the ass wrapped in Gatling gun aimed at your face. Cincinnati is going in the wrong direction but didn't look like a raging garbage fire last weekend against Louisville. I think Syracuse can win this game, but because football hates the Orange, I don't think they will. I'll take the Bearcats, 30-13. *ducks from flying vegetables*
Bonus Prediction: Bloomsburg gets plastered with a tire-iron to the face on Sunday.
Munchie Legaux will pose a big challenge to the Syracuse defense. Cincy is a team with only mediocre wins so far. Syracuse is the battle tested team and needs a win to get closer to bowl eligibility. They get it done on the road.
Syracuse 31 Cincinnati 27
Listen. I'm the biggest optimist in the world. But I don't like this game. A) I'm going and I just figure after a perfect sports week something is bound to break. B) Cincy, unlike every team we've faced, doesn't run through one guy. Yeah, Munchie is a versatile QB but the Bearcats are good-ish because they're consistent. The Orange struggle against mobile QB's. I honestly think this game is close, but logically, I just think Cincy is too balanced for the Orange to shut down.
For whatever reason, I don't feel great about this game, so I'll play the role of Debbie Downer here. B.J. Daniels' performance scares me, and while I don't know if Munchie Legaux is as dangerous as Daniels playing at his best, I think that Cincinnati has a better supporting cast. I know that their schedule is incredibly weak, Rutgersian even, but I've been impressed with them all year. If this game was in the Dome, I'd probably take SU, but since we're traveling after a short practice week, I'm going to give the slight edge to the Bearcats.
Cincy- 34, Syracuse- 31
I think Cincinnati is better than its showed the last two weeks -- by the way, losing at Toledo and at Louisville isn't exactly the worst thing in the world -- and there is still more than enough time for the Bearcats to turn things around. Munchie Legaux has the potential to BJ Daniels SU's front seven and George Winn is a force of his own at running back. I know this reads like I think Syracuse is going to get blown out, which actually isn't the case. I see this game as another maddeningly close battle, one where players like Legaux and Winn can make just enough of a difference. (P.S. -- As is par for the season, I'm sure there will be more than enough boneheaded mistakes and penalties by the Orange, especially in the first half.)
Cincinnati 24 - Syracuse 20 -- "Syracuse Football 2012 -- A Missed Opportunity"
I'm on the bandwagon. I mean, not that I wasn't before, but I feel like this team is destined to get to six wins. That may seem kind of sad, but a bowl game is a bowl game and something they can build on for next year and beyond.
Syracuse 31, Cincinnati 24
I'm torn. I have the good vibes about Syracuse football again and I know they CAN win this game. On the other hand, is winning three games in a row and two-straight road games too much to ask? It seems like it might be. I'd love to have been 5-3 headed into this one because it feels like the kind of game we're "supposed" to lose. Then again, so long as Munchie is throwing picks and the Bearcats are coming back down to Earth, maybe not.
One thing I do know, it's gonna be ugly and there's gonna be a lot of points. So...
Syracuse 31 - Cincinnati 30