Beat writers unanimously pick Syracuse to top North Carolina

Beat writers unanimously pick Syracuse to top North Carolina

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 17, 2018 at 10:42 pm Commentscenter_img For the first time since Syracuse (4-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) joined the ACC, it will host North Carolina (1-4, 1-2) at home. Both teams have lost two-straight games prior to Saturday’s 12:20 p.m. kickoff in the Carrier Dome. In Week 7, the Tar Heels lost 22-19 to Virginia Tech after a game-winning Hokies drive, as time expired. The Orange enters the matchup with UNC after a bye week.Below The Daily Orange beat writers make their Saturday predictions.Andrew Graham (5-1)Stress ballSyracuse 45, North Carolina 38To stop the run or not stop the run: that is the question. Syracuse is 4-2, not 5-1 or even 6-0, because against then-No. 3 Clemson and Pittsburgh, SU allowed at least 265 yards on the ground and surrendered three touchdowns on the ground each time. North Carolina is bad, but has the 49th-best rushing offense in the country — averaging just shy of 200 yards a game. If Syracuse slows UNC’s ground game, this should be a blowout. If it doesn’t, the Tar Heels, who recently lost to Virginia Tech by only three, shouldn’t have trouble hanging around. Even if they do, though, the Orange’s offense, which averages 43 points on more than 460 yards per game, should score plenty enough for SU to win this encounter. Winning games on the back of your offense alone often leads to stressful barn-burners, a la Big 12. For SU, though, it feels like the only way forward. It will work this week, but the run defense needs to catch up if SU wants to finish this season stronger than the last two.Josh Schafer (5-1)Stayin’ aliveSyracuse 38, North Carolina 35AdvertisementThis is placeholder textYes, it’s only Week 8 and Syracuse will play five more games after UNC. But this game has much larger implications. In the last two seasons, Syracuse peaked early in the season and then fell off. A home game against a 1-4 team is a perfect measuring stick for whether or not Syracuse is a different team this time around. The Tar Heels allow fewer yards passing (185.8) than they do rushing (198.2). Syracuse has rushed the ball well at times this season, and its short passing game doesn’t compare to North Carolina’s other opponents in regard to total yards per game. Dino Babers said Monday that football games are won by how well a team controls the ground game — both offensively and defensively — and who wins the turnover battle. Syracuse has forced more turnovers this season than in the last two, and North Carolina comes in with a weak run defense. Two of the three keys should be enough for the Orange on Saturday.Matt Liberman (4-2)Back on pathSyracuse 41, North Carolina 24This game couldn’t be coming at a better time for Syracuse. After a bye week in which SU was able to rest, get some of its injured players time to get healthy and take a hard mental note as to where this team needs to be, UNC is the perfect opponent. The Tar Heels have struggled this season amid inconsistent quarterback play, injuries and suspensions. North Carolina hasn’t won this season on the road and SU is still undefeated at home. North Carolina will have some success on the ground — the Tar Heels boast a trio of tailbacks that can do damage against the Orange. But their talent isn’t close to that which SU saw in Clemson, and hosting a game versus North Carolina is much different than traveling to a tough road environment at Heinz Field. The play under center isn’t enough to keep the running attack at the forefront of the UNC offense. The Tar Heels will fall behind early and struggle to catch back up as SU moves within one win of a bowl game for the first time since 2013.last_img

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