Syracuse really really needs this game if bowl eligibility is a plausible goal for this season. That much is pretty clear. Will the Orange grab a win in Raleigh on Saturday? Our writers seem pretty mixed on that one...
N.C. State 28 - Syracuse 17
Ooohhh boy, does this game have the fan base riled up! And honestly, I think N.C. State, more so than a Clemson, could be a true Syracuse rival. It's a team that probably aligns better with the Orange, in terms of historical performance. But for some reason, most Orange fans see the top-tier Tigers a better equal.
And for this game, truth is, it should be close and it should provide legit drama. But ultimately, I haven't seen enough out of Syracuse to convince me it can win on the road verses a similar for. If I'm wrong a bowl game may wait, if I'm right 2013 may be lost. (Don't shoot the blogger!)
Syracuse 30 - N.C. State 24
After picking against the Orange last week, for a few good reasons, I am predicting a bounce-back performance by Terrel Hunt and Co. The Wolfpack are entering the game with question marks at quarterback, a banged-up backfield, wide receiving corps and offensive line. These are all categories that benefit the Orange, who struggle to cover anyone but can rush the passer and stop the run (for the most part).
Meanwhile, SU isn't going to be shell shocked about playing on the road at N.C. State considering they've played on the road at MetLife Stadium and at Northwestern. I feel like Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley will have solid days and SU moves to 3-3 overall.
The Invisible Swordsman
N.C. State 31 - Syracuse 24
In the movie "Aliens", Private Hudson (played by Bill Paxton) starts off all brash and cocky, clearly unaware of the horror that awaits he and his fellow soldiers. Upon landing on the alien's planet and starting the mission, however, Hudson watches his Sergeant and another marine get massacred by the beasts, and his cockiness quickly transforms into shock, fear and eventually madness. For the remainder of the movie, he goes from one scene to another a hot and hilarious mess of confusion and terror. Of course he snaps out of it and regains his composure just in time for the aliens to pull him down to his death. This, my friends, was what it was like to watch the Clemson game. I gave a bold prediction that we would win, but upon landing and watching Clemson destroy us within minutes, I spent the rest of the game in shock, fear and eventually madness. Our brief comeback in the 3rd quarter snapped me out of my state...just in time for Tajh Boyd to pull us down to our inevitable demise with a 91-yard TD pass...Private Hudson had it right at that moment..."It's game over man...game over!".
Oh yeah, we're talking about NC State, right? 'Cuse is competitive, but NC State and the home crowd are too much for us. For the second year in a row, we enter the halfway mark at 2-4.
I wish we knew who was starting at quarterback for NC State, since it would make this prediction a bit more informed. In any case, Syracuse can pull off a victory in this game by winning in the trenches. The Wolfpack have 44 tackles for loss on the season (tied for fifth in the FBS entering week 7 action), so the SU offensive line has to really hunker down on run plays and prevent their linebackers from finding their way into the backfield. On the defensive side, the Orange have to apply pressure to whoever's throwing the football. Whether it's Pete Thomas or Brandon Mitchell at QB, forcing rushed throws will help the Orange account for some inadequacies in the secondary and prevent the same deep passes that killed us last week.
N.C. State 28 - Syracuse 24
I’ll start by saying if I was a betting man, I would not bet on this game. (NC State is favored by a touchdown.) Syracuse comes in without a quality win, but the same goes for NC State. The Wolfpack’s three wins came against Louisiana Tech, Richmond and Central Michigan. NC State has its own QB controversy. Brandon Mitchell won the starting job out of preseason, but missed the past four games with a broken foot. Junior Pete Thomas has filled in. He’s thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Mitchell will be a game-time decision, according to the Charlotte Observer.
So the questions just keep adding up – about the quality of these two teams, NC State’s QB situation, and also how the SU secondary will play after losing cornerback Keon Lyn for the season. I’m picking the Wolfpack because the one thing I know for sure is that NC State is a good at home. In 2012, the team went 5-1 at home. This season, NC State is 3-1 in Carter-Finley Stadium. The only defeat was a competitive 26-14 loss to Clemson.
Syracuse 28 - N.C. State 21
I don't think we'll see another team that is so strangely similar to our Orange all year. Both teams have first year coaches and are implementing offenses that utilize a healthy dose of the pistol and the option. Both hung their hats on transfer quarterbacks, for at least part of the season, and both courted Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen last spring. Both teams are strong against the run but tend to struggle with the pass, and the injuries are piling up on each squad. Each team has a quarterback that they have moved away from, or are trying to move away from, who have thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. One team is 2-3, the other 3-2, but neither has taken down a quality opponent this season. Both teams are coming off bad losses, although they aren't quite the same kind - Syracuse got blown out by a heavy favorite, the Wolfpack was upset by a conference basement dweller.
This is an incredibly important game for both clubs, and very few outcomes would surprise me on Saturday afternoon. Personally, I'm going to take Syracuse, the team that has it's quarterback in place, a star running back who seems to be hitting his stride, a defense that is playing with a whole bag of chips on its shoulder, and might be slightly less banged up than the squad lining up across the ball. Syracuse will even things up at 3-3, and continue on the march towards a bowl game.