The Syracuse Orange (4-5, 2-3) got knocked around quite a bit by Clemson last week, but now it’s time to regroup. They host the NC State Wolfpack (4-5, 1-4) at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday in the Carrier Dome. If you’re not in attendance (and you probably should be), you can check the listings for where to view the proceedings. There’s no line on this one with Eric Dungey’s status in question all week. We still don’t know if he’s playing, by the way.
So what does the TNIAAM staff think will happen on Saturday?
Syracuse 26, NC State 24
Since we're making this prediction without a good sense of Dungey's availability, I'm going with a lower-scoring game. My guess is that Babers has some plays for both Wilson and Mahoney if they are playing and that will be enough to squeak out a needed win. Look for Steve Ishmael to get involved early on to try and open up a deep throw to Etta-Tawo in the 2nd half. I expect the Syracuse defense to be ready to put last week behind them as they contribute with a couple of turnovers leading to points.
NC State 24, Syracuse 14
Let me preface this prediction by stating I am basing it off of the likely scenario starting quarterback Eric Dungey does not play. If that is in the case, I expect a win for NC State. While the Wolfpack are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, three of those losses have come against Clemson, Louisville and Florida State. NC State is in desperate need of a win to keep their bowl hopes alive, and they will get one at Syracuse's expense.
While the Orange defense has played admirably in recent weeks, it's the offense I'm worried about. Syracuse looked downright pathetic on the offensive side of the ball last week once Dungey went down. While NC State's pass defense is vulnerable – the Wolfpack rank 92nd in passing yards allowed per game – can you honestly say you have any confidence in either Wilson or Mahoney to take advantage of it? Because I sure don't.
Syracuse 31, NC State 26
This is all assuming Dungey plays. SU’s passing offense is among the best in the country, while NC State’s pass defense is among the worst. That should mean good things for Syracuse and a path to get back on track. The only issue may be the defense, which may struggle to put a stop to Matt Dayes and the run game, and could end up in a tough spot defending State’s bevy of receivers. Orange win, but not without making it interesting. One more win until we’re bowling.
NC State 28, Syracuse 21
I have doubts about Eric Dungey playing and even if he does I can't imagine he's Full Strength Eric Dungey who gets a bulk of the carries and plows ahead head-first into three defenders. I have no faith in Austin Wilson to be a competant FBS quarterback on the field and I have only slightly more faith that Zack Mahoney could handle things. I think our defense can bounce back from last week but there's only so much they can do. Our offense is already touch and go when at full strength so the idea of counting on it when it's at less than that just doesn't do it for me.
Now it’s your turn...