Syracuse Football: Staff writers not optimistic for Orange in Liberty duel

Syracuse football, sadly, has all kinds of injury problems within its line-up, and we make our picks on how the Orange will fare when hosting Liberty.

Syracuse football has reached a crossroads in its fall term. The Orange is 1-3 following last weekend’s setback to Duke, and the ‘Cuse unfortunately has seen its roster get rocked by injuries all over the place, including at quarterback, running back, the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker and in the secondary.

Wow. Syracuse football, this Saturday afternoon, will welcome undefeated Liberty to town. Our staff writers provide their picks below on how the Orange will perform against the Flames.

Ryan Lee
Syracuse football feels lost right now. After a loss to a winless Duke Blue Devils team they will now host an undefeated Liberty squad. While the non-Power 5 squad lost to the Orange a year ago in a shutout, this week’s game is no guarantee for the Orange.

It’s actually the opposite as the Orange are listed as underdogs at home against the Flames. Syracuse will go into action against Liberty without Tommy DeVito for the rest of the season on offense and Andre Cisco on defense after injuries and Cisco opting-out to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Orange defense without Cisco the past couple of weeks was able to force turnovers at a high rate even without Cisco. Against Duke, they did the same with five more and a couple of drops defensively that could have led to more.

Unfortunately even leading the nation in turnover margin is not helping the Orange win games. Some of that is because of them being gashed on the ground. Syracuse has allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the country and allowing 4.77 yards per attempt.

While the offense has been no help in keeping the defense off the field, this is one major factor in Duke controlling the ball for almost 40 minutes last week. Syracuse will need to see more success on the ground, not just defensively but offensively as well.

After breaking out against Georgia Tech, Sean Tucker only had 12 rushes for 53 yards. Mostly with Syracuse playing from behind. Liberty will be an interesting match because they hold their opponents to less than four yards per rush which could be problematic for the Orange.

That will put a lot of pressure on Rex Culpepper who is anticipated to receive most of the snaps this Saturday. Down and distance problems could spell doom for the Orange. The good news for the underdog Syracuse is that ESPN’s Football Power Index still gives Syracuse a 65.5% chance of winning.

If they cannot pull off the win, it will be tough to pick the Orange much more this season. But I have a bad feeling about this. Liberty 21 Syracuse 10

Josh Peelman
Syracuse football is in bad shape right now. After a humiliating home loss to an 0-4 Duke squad, then finding out they lost both DB Andre Cisco and QB Tommy Devito to season-ending injuries, everyone is wondering what else can go wrong.

The injuries are piling up on both sides of the ball forcing Coach Babers to use younger players and move players into positions they haven’t played in years. We’ll find out this weekend exactly what those changes will mean for the Orange going forward.

Syracuse takes on Liberty in the Done on Saturday in a game coming into the season looked like an easy win. Now down to their backup quarterback, fourth or fifth-string running back (I’ve lost count) and multiple backup offensive linemen, the win no longer looks guaranteed.

The Orange had not proven per se that they could score well with Devito behind center, and have possibly been worse with Rex Culpepper at QB. So putting up points against Liberty or anyone coming up could come at a premium.

I hate to say this, but even if the Orange defense is good, I still think Liberty can outscore Syracuse this weekend. I see the Orange losing a close one at home to Liberty in what is a new low for a ‘Cuse team that has had a bunch over the last decade or so. I see the game coming down to a field goal late with Liberty winning 27-24.

Hopefully I’m wrong, but my gut tells me right now the Orange may not win again this season until they have a proven quarterback behind center. Maybe it’s time to see what else the Orange future has in store and give them a shot. Who knows, maybe they’ll find another hidden gem like Eric Dungey?

Neil Adler
Syracuse football, to put it mildly, is in a tough spot. The Orange (1-3) is coming off a home loss to previously winless Duke last weekend, in a contest where the ‘Cuse allowed a ton of rushing yards.

Now Syracuse football turns its attention to unbeaten Liberty (4-0), the Orange’s only non-conference foe of the 2020 campaign. The Flames, an FBS independent in football, haven’t played as tough of a schedule to date as the ‘Cuse, however, Liberty still owns an advantage over the Orange in a bevy of statistical categories.

This affair inside the Carrier Dome is slated to commence at noon this Saturday, with television coverage on the Regional Sports Network.

Syracuse football really needs to take care of business on the Hill to have any shot of salvaging this season, since the ‘Cuse still must travel to No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame later on in the year.

Despite suiting up on the road, odds-makers have anointed the Flames as a small betting favorite throughout the week, although ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Orange a 65.5 percent chance to prevail.

A setback in Central New York to Liberty would prove really devastating in my opinion, but the ‘Cuse roster is simply decimated by injuries at this juncture. I’ve got the Flames coming out on top in a closely fought encounter, as Liberty defeats Syracuse football, 31-27.

Next: Syracuse Football: Orange fans should support Andre Cisco decision