The Demon Deacons(5-4) head to Northern New York this weekend to face the Syracuse University Orange (5-4). In what should be a pivotal game for both teams bowl aspirations, the Demon Deacons will have to claw one out in a game where Vegas has them as a +2.5 underdog. Let’s break this down.
Syracuse comes into this game in the midst of an up and down season. After an absolutely euphoric upset victory at home over the No. 2 Clemson Tigers early in October, the Orange have proceeded to drop their last two games while in the state of Florida, an 8 point loss to the undefeated Miami Hurricanes and last week missing a game-tying attempt at Florida State. Syracuse will be a tough out for any team walking into their house, as every ACC contest (2-3) has been decided by eight points or less thus far this season. The Orange’s defense is driven by junior quarterback Eric Dungey, who has accumulated 3000 total yards this season and 23 total touchdowns while leading the team in both passing and rushing yardage. However, Dungey left the game early against FSU last week, so there is a chance Wake’s defense will have the opportunity to feast on true freshman quarterback Tommy Devito. The Orange’s offense also features the WR duo of Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips, both of whom have over 70 catches on the season. On the defensive side, Syracuse ranks in the Top 40 for Division 1 defenses in both yardage and points allowed, however, they have shown themselves to be susceptible to strong throwers.
On the offensive side of the ball, all eyes should be on John Wolford. As the unquestioned veteran leader of the team, the Deacons will need him to come out strong in a road environment against the sneaky good Orange. The Syracuse defense hasn’t shown a strong ability to produce turnovers this season, having only intercepted quarterbacks 4 times thus far. If Wolford comes out and plays his game, the Wake offense should be able to score well. Of course, Wolford playing his game will demand he makes the correct reads in the option game and avoids risky decisions when dropping back to pass. Defensively, watch what happens in the secondary. Syracuse wide receiver Steve Ishmael stands at 6-3, 210 pounds, a matchup that could prove difficult for undersized outside corner Essang Bassey. Additionally, the speed of Ervin Phillips could prove problems for the entire secondary. The Wake defense has had an outstanding season thus far, however after a tough game at Notre Dame it should be very interesting to see how they bounce back after allowing a career game for the Irish’s young signal caller.
Vegas has the Demon Deacons as a 2.5 point underdog, which reads as more of a dead even game when you factor in the three points Syracuse receives for playing at home. ESPN’s Football Power Index also reads dead even, with Wake having a 48% chance to win and Syracuse having a 52% chance. Personally, I believe that Wolford’s veteran presence carrying over from a strong performance against Notre Dame will lead to a successful outing for the Deacons in New York. Wake’s defense should play inspired by both their reputation and bowl eligibility on the line following a torching from Notre Dame.
Score: Wake Forest 31 – Syracuse 27