The Syracuse Orange, coming off of a heartbreaking one point loss to Northwestern this past Saturday have shifted their focus to the USC Trojans and New York City where the two teams will match up in the New York City College Classic Saturday. Syracuse enters the game as 28 point underdogs, and will need a lot of things to go their way if they are going to upset the 2nd ranked team in the nation.
The first thing the Orange will need to go their way is continued success from the offensive line. The Orange dominated the stat line last Saturday, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. If the Orange are going to hang around in this ball game, Ryan Nassib will absolutely need time to be able to throw the ball, and the Orange will need to establish a running presence. Against Northwestern, Nassib was able to dominate the young Wildcat secondary, throwing the ball virtually every play in the second half. USC is much more talented and experienced in their secondary, so keeping the Trojans honest with the run is an absolute must and that starts with the offensive line.
Another thing the Orange will need to go in their favor Saturday will be turnovers. The Orange will have to limit their turnovers, as well as turning the Trojans over as well. This will enable them to control the pace of the game, and will hopefully also lead to keeping the ball out of the hands of Matt Barkley and that unbelievable group of talented receivers and play makers. When the Orange upset West Virginia in Doug Marrone’s first year, the dominated the time of possession due to interceptions and long drives ending in points. For USC, it will take the same approach except instead of just getting points, the Orange will need touchdowns.
The third and final thing the Orange will need to go their way is the fan support. The Orange gave a bus ride and tickets to all students with season tickets, so the stadium is going to have to be as close to a home field advantage as the Orange can get in order to help give the team a boost on third downs and big plays in the game. Unfortunately, this will be the most difficult thing to go Syracuse’s way because of a neutral site match up, rather than playing the game in the Carrier Dome, which was loud with only 37,000 people in it (37,000 announced, more like 30,000). If the Orange were to hang around in the game, a Carrier Dome crowd absolutely could have helped make a difference late in the game if the Orange were going for the upset.
Those are just three things that the Orange will need, on top of some USC mistakes. The Trojans are a great football team, but anything can happen in college football so we’ll have to see how it all plays out.