The Syracuse Orange football team (1-3, 1-3) is pretty banged-up and now faces a 4-0 Liberty Flames squad that we shouldn’t be playing but will proceed to anyway. While Liberty hasn’t played any opponent of note this year, they’ve looked good enough to some that they’re even favored in this game — just in case you weren’t maxed out on dread already in 2020.
Before this game kicks off from the Carrier Dome at noon ET on Saturday (and on ESPN3 and local RSNs), the TNIAAM staff attempts to predict what’s going to happen.
Syracuse 24, Liberty 14
I really don’t know why at this point, with the entire team in the injury tent, but Liberty is not to the quality of the teams that the Orange have been facing. I hope I’m not eating crow on this, as Malik Willis can do some damage, but with him being the primary threat on the field, Tony White should be able to prep for him. Hopefully Sterlin Gilbert can alter his game plan to take advantage of Rex Culpepper’s strengths and not accentuate his weaknesses, and Syracuse can get out of the week with a second win on the season.
Syracuse 26, Liberty 24
If Sean Tucker can’t go I’m not sure the Orange has enough left on offense to win this game. I’m going to assume that his appearance on the depth chart means he’s good to go and I think Syracuse will feature him heavily early on. It’s going to be up to the defense and special teams this week and look for Syracuse to continue to force turnovers which lead to Andre Szmyt field goals. This game won’t be pretty but the Orange find a way to squeak out a win.
Syracuse 27, Liberty 20
I can’t convince myself to pick Liberty. Not because they’re incapable of doing so. But because I believe that even with a ton of reserves playing significant roles, Dino Babers can still coax this Syracuse team to a win. Malik Willis is the Flames’ primary advantage. And if the Orange can get any sort of containment on him (not the simplest order, but possible), it’ll be up to the offense to take care of the ball and be efficient. SU’s ability to force turnovers also shouldn’t be underrated. It won’t be fun, but I do see a ‘Cuse victory by a slim margin.
Syracuse 24, Liberty 21
For some reason, I can’t in good faith pick against Syracuse in this game, because logic dictates that even with all of the injuries that have hampered Syracuse, the Orange should still be a better team than Liberty. You’d think that even SU’s second and third string guys would be better than a team that’s only in its third-ever FBS season. In reality, I’m scared. This has somehow ended up as a coin flip game. In the end, the game will be decided by the two guys that Kevin and John mentioned: Tucker and Willis. If Tucker can go, Syracuse should win more comfortably. Otherwise, the Orange needs to tunnel in on stopping Willis on the ground.
Liberty 17, ‘Cuse 13
I have little faith in the Orange offense without DeVito; for all of the holes in his game, the one thing he can do is throw a deep ball to our receivers who can beat less athletic defensive backs one on one. Without that element to the game, the offense has shown to be incredibly anemic unless Sean Tucker is in the backfield, and Cullpepper has shown an inability to hit basic routes needed to move the offense in any form of consistency in the air. All of that said, Liberty is not amazing. They have a supremely talented QB who will be able to gain chunks of yards on the ground, and I think the defense causes just enough turnovers to create points for the Orange and keep the game close. But give a talented QB enough chances, and he’ll burn you, so I expect Liberty to eek this one out.
Now it’s your turn...
Who will win the Syracuse vs. Liberty game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse, and at least that’s over...
Liberty, and the rest of the season’s cancelled