NC State v. Syracuse (10/15 at 3:30 PM EST.)
Line: Syracuse (-3)
NC State vs Syracuse Overview
The ACC Conference race is piping hot at the moment and this Saturday the 15th-ranked NC State Wolfpack will head into upstate New York to take on the 18th-ranked Syracuse Orange for a big divisional tilt. The Wolfpack are coming off a hard-fought 19-17 home victory over rival Florida St. while the Orange come into this game off of a bye after a 59-0 shellacking of Wagner at the JMA Wireless Zone in Syracuse on October 1st.
NC State Analysis
NC State arrives at Week 7 with an impressive 5-1 record with their one loss coming to fourth-ranked Clemson on the road. With that being said, the one drawback for the Wolfpack, and the reason they slipped a spot in the AP Top 25 this week despite winning, is they haven’t beaten a ranked opponent yet. They also have a bit more pressure on them this season being that they went 9-3 last year and are expected to compete with the aforementioned Clemson for the ACC title after being ranked 13th in the AP Preseason Top 25.
Looking on the bright side, you simply can’t knock a team that’s won five out of their first six contests, even if the competition has been rather weak. What can’t be debated is the Wolfpack’s defense, which ranks 15th in the nation by holding opposing offenses to 15.67 points a contest. Part of the reason they managed to beat the Seminoles last week was due to holding Florida State’s offense to 181 yards in the air. On that note, NC State is defending quarterbacks well this season, holding teams to 184.4 yards passing per game. They also have a solid rushing defense, holding teams to 113 yards on the ground, good for 28th in the nation.
Unfortunately, Saturday’s win didn’t come without headaches as the Wolfpack’s starting quarterback, Devin Leary, left the game in the third quarter with an upper-arm injury after taking a hit. With Leary’s status still undetermined, NC State is facing a steeper hill to climb as their rushing game doesn’t have a true star with running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye leading the team with 299 yards and three touchdowns. Even with Leary, the passing game ranked 80th in the country with 230.7 yards per contest. The Wolfpack will have to rely heavily on their defense if Leary can’t go this week.
Talk about improvement, just look at Exhibit A: Syracuse. Two seasons ago, the Orange finished their year with one win, going 1-10 including 1-9 in the ACC. Then, last season, they made strides and ended the year 5-7 with a 2-6 conference record. So far this season they look even better as their 5-0 record is already as many wins as last year. The difference this time around is Syracuse is undefeated thus far, with wins over Purdue, Virginia, and Louisville included. The Orange have also put up a 4-1 record against the spread.
So, how are the Orange undefeated? One way they’re doing it is the old-fashioned way: on the ground. Syracuse is wearing opposing defenses down with 190.4 yards of rushing per game, churning it out for an average of 4.67 yards a run. On top of that, head coach Dino Babers’ run defense doesn’t give up a whole lot of yards, holding opposing offenses to 95 yards per game, good for 16th overall. Running backs only get 3.37 yards a carry against an Orange defense that ranks 10th overall nationally.
Syracuse isn’t too shabby on the offensive end either, ranking 22nd in points scored with 38.4 per game and 40th in the total offense at 440.6 yards per contest. Led by Mississippi St. transfer Garrett Shrader, the dual-threat quarterback makes the Orange a tricky team to defend because he can hurt you on the ground and through the air. On the year so far, Schrader has thrown for 1,224 yards but his most impressive stat is tossing 10 TDS against only one interception. His 70.9% completion percentage only adds to his resume as does the 219 yards and five scores on the ground.
Free Pick: Syracuse -3
Neither one of these teams has had a particularly strong record with the totals as NC State has gone 3-3 and Syracuse 2-3. On that note, the over has hit in two of the last three contests. For this game, however, the Orange have a stronger resume than an NC State team that has only played once on the road and lost. Syracuse is undefeated, has a punishing defense, and a versatile QB in Shrader that will be too much for the Wolfpack’s defense to contain. Babers’ team will remain undefeated while covering the spread at home.