Syracuse football vs. Illinois, Tommy DeVito in Orange Bowl would be juicy

Syracuse football, Tommy DeVito (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Syracuse football, Tommy DeVito (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Two of the most pleasant, wonderful surprises of the 2022 season to date, from my perspective, are the respective successes of Syracuse football quarterback Garrett Shrader and former ‘Cuse QB Tommy DeVito.

Shrader, who previously played for Mississippi State before transferring to the Orange, has competed at a high level this fall in helping lead Syracuse football to a 6-0 start and a No. 14 ranking in both major top-25 polls.

DeVito, meanwhile, previously was the starting quarterback for the ‘Cuse. He put up really solid numbers for the Orange in 2019, but last season, he lost the starting gig to Shrader.

Understandably, Tommy DeVito sought out more playing time, so he transferred to Big Ten Conference member Illinois. And at this juncture in 2022, the senior from Cedar Grove, N.J., is truly shining for the Fighting Illini.

It’s possible that Syracuse football could face former Orange QB Tommy DeVito in a bowl game.

Now, with the Orange having already clinched bowl eligibility (yay!), we’re seeing a variety of projections come in from national pundits as to where the ‘Cuse might land during bowl season.

Naturally, we all want Syracuse football to run the table, finish the regular stanza at 12-0, and head to the College Football Playoff. Short of that, the Capital One Orange Bowl sure has a nice ring to it for the Orange.

Per the Atlantic Coast Conference, this year’s Orange Bowl is expected to pit an ACC team versus a squad from the Big Ten Conference, the Southeastern Conference or Notre Dame, which is not an ACC member for football.

In the lead-up this week to the ‘Cuse traveling to No. 5 Clemson, I’ve seen Syracuse football in several instances get projected to the Orange Bowl, with its predicted foe being either Illinois, Penn State, or Ole Miss.

Sign me up for any of those opponents, but the one that I’m most rooting for is the Fighting Illini. First and foremost, two Orange-clad schools playing in the Orange Bowl is, well, appropriate.

Also, Syracuse football going toe to toe with its former starting quarterback is a juicy storyline.

Per ESPN statistics, Tommy DeVito in 2022 is completing 70.4 percent of his passes for 1,415 yards, with 10 touchdowns through the air and just two interceptions. Shrader, to his credit, is putting up similarly stellar numbers so far this fall.

Overall, Illinois is 6-1 and tied for first place with Purdue in the Big Ten’s West division. The Fighting Illini has wins over Wyoming, Virginia, Chattanooga, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Illinois’ lone setback was by three points at Indiana.

In the most recent top-25 ratings, the Fighting Illini is No. 18 in the Associated Press poll and No. 20 in the Coaches poll.

Without question, DeVito versus Shrader would be fun to watch. But these two teams also boast exquisite running backs, with 2021 All-American Sean Tucker leading the charge for the Orange.

However, Illinois junior running back Chase Brown is presently leading the country in total rushing yards, with 1,059, according to the NCAA’s Web site.

Tucker currently resides at No. 18 across the country, possessing 644 rushing yards.

But perhaps the biggest thing to monitor, should Syracuse football and Illinois end up playing one another, is each squad’s ridiculously good defense.

The Orange’s defense, known as the Mob, is allowing only 13.17 points per contest, which is No. 6 nationally. However, the Fighting Illini’s defense is, at present, No. 1 in scoring defense, giving up a mere 8.86 points per affair. That’s insane.

I’m really happy that Tommy DeVito has found a terrific home in Illinois. He’s a nice young man, and I’ve always wished him well.

To that end, I’m really pleased to have seen so many of my fellow ‘Cuse fans saying positive things about DeVito as he has found success in 2022 with the Fighting Illini. #Kindness

By the way, the 2022 Orange Bowl will take place on Fri., Dec. 30, beginning at 8 pm from the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. ESPN is scheduled to televise the Orange Bowl. Get your popcorn ready.

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