Previewing 2019 Football: At Syracuse

boston college football

Aiming to rebound after being handed a 52-point loss by Clemson, Boston College football travels to the Carrier Dome this weekend to face off with a similarly struggling Syracuse. Both teams are looking to get back on its feet after dropping their last game, or in Syracuse’s case, its last three games. The Orange (3-5, 0-4 Atlantic Coast) isn’t only seeking to snap a losing streak, but it’s also searching for its first conference win of the year. Syracuse, which enters as a three-point favorite, will have to contain a strong running game from the Eagles (4-4, 2-3) if it hopes to send BC home with a loss. 

Who is BC playing?
Syracuse

When is BC playing?
Saturday, Nov. 2, 12:00 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y. 

How to Watch:
The game will be aired on ACC Network and WatchESPN.

Series History: 

The Orange holds a 32-20 all-time edge in the series and always presents a challenge to the Eagles, regardless of the direction their season is headed in. Just last year, head coach Dino Babers and his heavy-hitting Orange marched into Chestnut Hill and served BC a 42-21 loss. That win was highlighted by quarterback Eric Dungey, who threw for 362 yards last year, but has since graduated. The Eagles are going to be faced with the challenge of defending against a new quarterback unbeknown to Steve Addazio and his staff. This is going to be the fourth matchup between Syracuse and BC with Babers and Addazio at the helm, respectively, and the pair have split those meetings.

What to Expect from Syracuse: 

Offense: 

So far this season, Syracuse has struggled extensively on the offensive side of the ball. It’s only wins have come against Liberty, Western Michigan, and Holy Cross—three teams that shouldn’t pose much of a threat to any ACC program. With redshirt sophomore Tommy DeVito assuming the role of starting quarterback after Dungey’s graduation, Syracuse has struggled to post competitive numbers when it counts. Losing to Maryland by a score of 63-20, Florida State by a score of 35-17, and Clemson by a score of 43-6, it’s been unable to find the end zone against top-tier opponents. While BC is certainly not in the same league as Clemson, the Orange and DeVito are going to have to put up more of a fight if they want to compete with AJ Dillon and the Eagles’ formidable ground presence. 

To make matters more complicated, Syracuse is currently experiencing a degree of tension within the locker room, stemming from the sudden quitting of fifth-year graduate transfer offensive lineman, Ryan Alexander. This unexpected series of events has left the offensive line patchy, but only to an extent. Thankfully for DeVito, the hole left by Alexander allowed for bullish Matthew Bergeron. 

“He’s not afraid of anybody,” said offensive coordinator Mike Lynch, per Syracuse.com. “He thinks he can block anyone in the country. That’s his mindset, and that’s why we love him.”

No one has felt the rockiness of the offensive line more than DeVito, who has found himself scrambling out of pressure situations more that he’d like. This pocket pressure has left Syracuse trying to get a run game going with backs Moe Neal and Abdul Adams, but the former has only rushed for 444 yards while the latter has just 276 yards. Compare that with Dillon’s 1,044 rushing yards at this point in the 2019 season, and it’s evident that Syracuse’s running backs are going to have to rise to the challenge come Saturday. Not to be unmentioned is wideout Trishton Jackson, who averaged 10 yards a catch against Pittsburgh and Florida State. 

Defense: 

The Syracuse defense is spearheaded by defensive lineman Josh Black, who has already recorded four sacks and 29 tackles this season. There’s no doubt that Black and his fellow linemen spent the week developing methods to thwart Dillon and David Bailey and contain them in the backfield.

Last week, Syracuse gave up 487 yards to an aggressive FSU offense. Trailing in almost every category, the Orange allowed 13 points in the first quarter. While there were certainly defensive lows last game, and have been throughout the season, the Syracuse defense possesses certain strengths that BC needs to be wary of. Senior linebacker Lakiem Williams notched an impressive 11 tackles last week and could prove to be a worthy foe to BC’s own Dillon. 

The Orange snapped its streak of 22 consecutive games with a forced turnover last weekend, and in the process allowed the Seminoles’ star running back Cam Akers to run for two touchdowns on their first two possessions. This points to perhaps the Orange’s greatest weakness: defense as a whole. While its offensive line isn’t spectacular, its defense has been lackluster against strong running backs and elite quarterbacks. Syracuse is eighth in the ACC in rushing defense and 12th in passing defense.

Outcome: 

While Syracuse may be slightly favored, Saturday’s battle at the Carrier Dome is truly a toss up as both teams are desperate for a win. Losing makes recording the six wins required for a bowl game drastically harder, with BC facing competitive FSU and Pittsburgh programs after the Orange. Syracuse, on the other hand, is scheduled to face Duke, Louisville, and Wake Forest after BC. If the Eagles hope to walk away with a win, they are going to have to rely heavily on the running game, and their defense has to bounce back from its program-worst outing at Clemson. Applying steady pressure to an already unsteady Syracuse offensive line is critical in containing DeVito and Co. If Williams and the rest of the Syracuse defense is unable to hold Dillon and the Eagles’ rushing attack in check, it could be a long day at the office for the Orange.

Featured Image by Steve Cannon / AP Photo