The Syracuse Orange get back to business on Saturday when they travel to Tampa to take on the South Florida Bulls. Despite the fact that SU is 3-1 and USF is 1-3, the Bulls are favored. What does this say about SU's chances to get to 4-1 and get one win closer to bowl eligibility? Let's see what the TNIAAM crew thinks will happen and then we'll turn it over to you.
Score: Syracuse 23 - USF 13
MVP: Steve Ishmael
This year's bye week came at the perfect time for the Orange. Getting Eric Dungey and Erv Phillips back should give a nice boost to the offense. I expect USF to try and make Dungey beat them through the air, so I'm calling for Steve Ishmael to take advantage of some single coverage situations to make big plays. USF's run-heavy offense plays in Syracuse's hands, so I expect the Orange to be able to secure the road victory.
Score: Syracuse 20 - USF 10
MVP: Eric Dungey
Syracuse's tendency to stack the box on defensewill work in its favor this week. USF's offense is almost entirely reliant upon its running attack, so the Orange's strategy should and will be to challenge quarterback Quinton Flowers to beat them through the air. There's little to indicate that he's capable of doing that. On the other side of the ball, Eric Dungey should be able to take advantage of USF's secondary, which ranks 82nd in the FBS in passing yards allowed per game.
Score: Syracuse 27 - USF 10
MVP: Eric Dungey
I don't see this being a particularly close game, so I'm surprised to see Vegas favoring the Bulls. South Florida likes to run the ball. Syracuse stops the run against anyone not named Leonard Fournette. I don't think the USF passing game, which averages 155 yards per game, will be able to keep the Orange from stacking the box all day, and that's going to be the Bulls' undoing. Meanwhile, South Florida is probably going to try to do the same against Syracuse's rushing attack, but when Maryland throws for four touchdowns against you (and follows that up with 6 total points over the next two games before firing its head coach), I'm not going to be too afraid of Eric Dungey airing it out a few times. Expect the freshman quarterback to throw for two scores, and add another with his feet en route to the easy win.
Score: Syracuse 24 - USF 10
MVP: Brisly Estime
Syracuse wins this one 24-10, they stuggle to move the ball for the first half, but the USF defense eventually wears out. Dungey's return to the offense proves to be huge as he runs in a TD and throws for one. Estime is on the receiving end of a deep play action pass similar to the one in the LSU game. Estime is also a key cog on special teams as he returns a Mattias Ciabatti punt to the house. The defense looks strong out there stopping the run and USF's lack of a passing game really hurts them in this one.
Score: Syracuse 20 - USF 17
MVP: Jordan Fredericks
Both are running teams that excel at stopping the run. I expect both these teams to try to grind it out against one another. Syracuse must contain Flowers & Mack. Forcing turnovers and not committing turnovers will be crucial to both teams. I think this will be a low scoring affair and whoever can run the ball best wins. Bet the under.
Score: Syracuse 27 - USF 21
MVP: Ervin Phillips
With both Ervin Philips and Eric Dungey back in action, Syracuse's offense will run on all cylinders. Syracuse's pass rush will halt USF's running game, making their offense one-dimensional. The Syracuse secondary has been a problem thus far, as USF will capitalize on the passing game. However Dungey will continue to excite and with Ervin Philips, lead Syracuse to a their first road win of the season.
Score: Syracuse 30 - USF 13
MVP: Ron Thompson
Everyone seems pretty high on things for Syracuse given Dungey and Philips's respective returns. But the Orange are still going to need a pretty solid effort from this defense if they hope to grab a road victory over USF. The Bulls stick around for a half, before SU's defensive front takes over, forcing mistakes and turning the tide sternly in the Orange's direction. Of all those defenders, Ron Thompson leads the way, with a couple sacks and a forced fumble that leads to a score. Syracuse is 4-1 and we're all glad.
Score: Syracuse 20 - USF 13
MVP: Zaire Franklin
This has slugfest written all over it for me. LSU effort aside, Syracuse usually struggles on the road against halfway-decent teams. Eric Dungey is coming back from a Dreaded UBI and who knows if he'll need to shrug off any rust. I could see this being one of those games where a guy like Devante McFarlane comes out of nowhere and lets the offense lean on him when needed. However I think the defense is ultimately going to win this one for us, keeping USF out of the end zone just enough times so that we can get out of there and put it behind us.
Now it's your turn...