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NC State 42, Syracuse 29: Five Takeaways as Orange Lose Eighth Straight

It's Syracuse's longest in-season losing streak in a decade.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse suffered another loss on Saturday, falling 42-29 to NC State. Here are five takeaways:

1. Wire-to-wire

On their first drive, the Wolfpack marched 75 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a Jacoby Brissett seven-yard touchdown strike to Jaylen Samuels. After that, NC State never looked back, scoring touchdowns on three of its first four drives and never relinquishing the lead.

However, Syracuse did make a mini comeback attempt midway through the game. SU quarterback Zack Mahoney found Ervin Philips for a 30-yard score to cut the Wolfpack's lead to 21-19 with 1:37 remaining in the first half. Then, on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Jordan Fredericks broke off a 75-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-16 after the extra point.

But the Wolfpack had an answer. They scored a touchdown on their next drive and prevented Syracuse from building any further momentum.

2. More questionable decisions

Down 7-0 in the first quarter, Syracuse faced a 4th-and-goal from NC State's one-yard line. Rather than going for it, the Orange went the safe route and elected to kick the easy field goal.

Later, at the start of the fourth quarter, SU faced another decision on a fourth down. This time, the Orange trailed 35-16 and faced a 4th-and-5 from their own 45-yard line. At that point, there's not much you can lose by going for it, especially with the ball near midfield. But Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer sent out the punting unit. The Wolfpack then went 80 yards on their ensuing drive and scored a touchdown.

Today's game wasn't the first this season that has seen Shafer make questionable decisions on fourth down. Just last week, in fact, Syracuse punted from its 37-yard line despite trailing by 10 points with less than six minutes to play against Clemson.

3. Can't run, can't stop the run

For the fourth consecutive game, Syracuse, which came into Saturday ranked 104th in the FBS in total defense, surrendered more than 500 yards of total offense to its opponent. This time, that was largely due to the Orange's inability to stop NC State's rushing attack.

In total, the Wolfpack racked up 276 yards on the ground. Four players ran for at least 47 yards, with Reggie Gallaspy II leading the way. He logged 13 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. As a team, NC State averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the win.

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse struggled to find any of the same success. Aside from Fredericks' 75-yard touchdown scamper, the Orange picked up just 65 rushing yards on 31 carries -- good for only 2.1 yards per rush.

4. Too little, too late

After falling behind 42-16 in the fourth quarter, Syracuse tried to make a last ditch comeback. The Orange's Oliver Vigille recovered an NC State fumble and returned it 29 yards for the score, cutting the lead to 42-23 after the extra point. SU then recovered the ensuing onside kick and drove 40 yards to score a touchdown. Mahoney threw a three-yard strike to Steve Ishmael, who after scoring the touchdown received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty -- his second of the day, resulting in his ejection.

Syracuse then tried another onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but that one was recovered by the Wolfpack, ending any hope SU had at a miracle comeback.

5. Eight-game skid

With today's loss, Syracuse has now dropped eight straight games after starting 3-0. As's Stephen Bailey notes, that's the Orange's longest in-season losing streak since 2005. If they lose next week, it will mark consecutive 3-9 seasons. And since the beginning of last season, SU has still yet to defeat an FBS team other than Central Michigan or Wake Forest Demon.