The Syracuse Orange upset NC State this past Saturday, and now stand at 6-2 on the year. So that means they’re bowling for sure. But there’s still an opportunity to get to an even better postseason destination the more the Orange win over the final four games.
Each week, we’ll be using this space to look at past and future foes on the 2018 schedule, and assess what’s ahead for the Orange. So how’d Syracuse’s opponents fare in week seven? And how might that affect SU going forward?
Western Michigan Broncos (6-3, 4-1)
Result: Loss, 51-24 to Toledo
WMU had won six straight since an 0-2 start, riding a strong run game to quality offensive production and some commanding victories in league play. But Toledo completely shut down the Broncos’ ground attack to the tune of just 125 yards on Thursday, and tested their defense with an impressively balanced attack. The Rockets had over 500 yards of offense and hit six field goals to put the game away in the second half and pull back into the MAC West race.
Wagner Seahawks (2-6, 1-2)
Result: Loss, 49-24 to Central Connecticut State
Ryan Fulse was an absolute workhorse for the Seahawks, with 179 rushing yards on 43 carries. Unfortunately, the offense really didn’t generate much else on top of that, and Wagner also lost four fumbles. CCSU also outscored them 28-7 in the second half.
Florida State Seminoles (4-4, 2-4)
Result: Loss, 59-10 to Clemson
FSU’s struggling offensive line was perhaps even worse than most critics would assume on Saturday, collecting negative-21 yards on the ground vs. Clemson’s stout defensive front. Playing for a comeback while trailing 28-0 at half, the ‘Noles did throw for over 260 yards but on 40 attempts (20 completions). For all of the apparent improvement in recent weeks from Florida State, it sure didn’t show in Tallahassee.
Connecticut Huskies (1-7, 0-4)
Result: Loss, 22-17 to UMass
UConn has looked a little better these past two weeks, but that hasn’t much mattered while tallying another two losses (to USF and UMass, respectively). The Huskies only ran 50 plays on offense all day, rushing for 250 yards but throwing for just 15 on six attempts. They also allowed eight tackles for loss. Connecticut should probably just fold the program.
Clemson Tigers (8-0, 5-0)
Result: Win, 59-10 over Florida State
Clemson’s been on a tear since the close call against Syracuse. In this one, the defensive line led the way, contributing to five sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The Tigers’ offense went away from the run game — their strength — and attacked FSU’s secondary throughout, to the tune of 404 yards and five scores (314 yards and four TDs from Trevor Lawrence). This was frighteningly easy and there’s little standing in the way of an unbeaten Tigers’ season.
Pittsburgh Panthers (4-4, 3-1)
Result: Win, 54-45 over Duke
Just like they fixed Clemson, Syracuse also fixed Pitt this season. And that OT loss doesn’t look nearly as bad anymore for the Orange as the Panthers find themselves very involved in the Coastal race. Pitt’s defense is still bad, but offensively they’ve figured out a formula of just pounding teams with any number of big running backs and letting Kenny Pickett stay within his limitations. Playing UVA next has a major impact on the division race now.
North Carolina Tar Heels (1-6, 1-4)
Result: Loss, 31-21 to Virginia
Speaking of Virginia, the Hoos beat UNC by 10 this past weekend in a game where the Heels once again seemed much more reliant on their passing attack than the run (which had been the main threat early in the year). Nathan Elliott had 271 yards through the air and two scores, Play-calling just stalled the offense out for the third straight week.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-4, 1-3)
Result: Win, 56-35 over Louisville
You’ve likely heard about the day of revenge for Wake’s Matt Colburn (243 rushing yards, 3 TD) against Louisville. And while he doesn’t have the same motivating factor when the Deacs face Syracuse, the underlying theme is that his team can really run the football this year. With Wake collecting 368 yards on the ground, it’s also easy to forget that QB Sam Hartman had a pretty efficient 16-of-24 day for 223 yards passing and two scores too. Wake Forest’s defense is bad, but the offense has a ton of ways to beat you.
Louisville Cardinals (2-6, 0-5)
Result: Loss, 56-35 to Wake Forest
Speaking of bad defenses, Hi Louisville! The Cards allowed nearly eight yards per carry versus Wake, and failed to really get much of a push up front while allowing 56 points. The offense actually looked better (over 520 total yards), but there are caveats there for the Deacons’ defensive struggles — not so dissimilar to ours — and playing from behind for much of the game. It would be awesome to bury the Cards in a couple weeks.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0, N/A)
Result: Win, 44-22 over Navy
Notre Dame’s defense was up to the task of stopping Navy’s triple-option, and with a 27-0 lead at half, they also forced the Midshipmen to play out of their element for much of the afternoon. The Irish have been a great passing team with Ian Book under center, and his 27-of-33 performance for 330 yards and two scores against Navy continued that trend. Terrifyingly, ND also added 254 yards on the ground, led by a resurgent Dexter Williams (142, three TDs).
Boston College Eagles (6-2, 3-1)
Result: Win, 27-14 over Miami
With a healthy AJ Dillon back in the fold, it seemed like business as usual once again for BC against a meandering Miami squad which seemingly looks worse by the week. The Eagles combined a balanced attack (210 passing, 223 rushing) with a strong push from the front seven and two picks from the secondary to shut the ‘Canes down. Miami’s offense is nowhere near operating at the same level Syracuse’s is. But it’s still worth looking at how BC uses pressure to generate plays from the DBs, and of course, how they run the ball well as a team against a rush.
Week 9 opponent W-L: 5-7
2018 total W-L: 51-44