Of all the weeks for a good match up for the Syracuse Orange, this is the week.
It is amazing to me that Syracuse is considered an underdog in this game. While the Bulls are 6-1 all-time against the Orange, the statistics and the match ups for SU is probably more favorable than it has been all season. To understand this, we need to look at where USF stands as a team statistically in the Big East in comparison to the weaknesses and strengths of Syracuse.
In order for Syracuse to be successful, Ryan Nassib needs time to throw the ball and the receivers need to get open. The South Florida Bulls rank last in the Big East in sacks per game in conference play, while their secondary is mediocre at best ranking fourth in the conference. This should mean that Nassib has plenty of time in the pocket to throw, and will have every opportunity to torch a secondary that is nowhere near the best he has seen all season.
On the flip side, the Orange are going to have to put their defensive focus on containing quarterback BJ Daniels. Despite Daniels shifting his focus to being more of a passing quarterback rather than a running quarterback, he only ranks fifth in the conference in passing, throwing for 216 yards per game in conference. Efficiency wise he ranks last, and has five interceptions through three conference game. Running the ball, the Bulls’ top two running backs are Lindsey Lamar and Demetri Murry, who both average under 60 yards per conference game rushing. Syracuse has a difficult time stopping the pass at times, but the Bulls do not have any top receivers in the conference to this point this season.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the game this Saturday night comes down to Syracuse playing Syracuse. If the Orange make silly mistakes, they have a chance at beating themselves. The Orange will also need to take care of the ball, and there is no reason why that shouldn’t be possible with South Florida ranking last in the conference in forced turnovers in Big East play. Avoid silly turnovers, keep penalties and mental mistakes to a minimum and the Orange should be in good shape this weekend. The Bulls have lost five in a row including losses to Ball State and Temple, but Syracuse needs to make sure they maintain their focus because the Bulls absolutely have the talent to win this game.
I know football is more than a numbers game, and there is a reason why they play the game. The Bulls have had Syracuse’s number in the past, but I believe that if Syracuse takes care of business, they should be able to get out of Tampa with a victory.
Check back tomorrow and Saturday for our more extensive previews in this huge upcoming game for the Orange