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How Will Syracuse Fare in the ACC Atlantic Division in 2013?

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Rich Barnes- USA TODAY Sports

2013 will be a season of new beginnings for the Syracuse Orange football program. A new coach, a new quarterback, and–most importantly–a new conference are what awaits the team this upcoming season. Following their departure from the Big East (soon-to-be the American Athletic Conference), the Orange and new head coach Scott Shafer will need to be ready to compete in the toughest division of their new conference.

Upon their admittance into the ACC, Syracuse was placed in the Atlantic Division. This just happens to be the same division that is home to the conference’s two powerhouses at the moment, the Florida State Seminoles and the Clemson Tigers. For this reason alone, the path for the Orange to possibly make a run at an appearance in the ACC Championship Game in their inaugural season seems more than rocky.

While it is quite a jagged road that would lead the Orange to Charlotte, make no mistake about it, it’s by no means impossible to navigate through neither.

Even with the loss of their ultra-talented–and recent New York Giants draftee–quarterback Ryan Nassib, incoming Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen, if the hype is justified, should be a more than suitable replacement. Total up an effective Allen with the explosive Jarrod West handling the wide receiver play-making duties and the impressive running game returning from last season and the Orange offense can become mighty deadly as time goes on.

If there is any sort of Achilles heel that may hamper the Orange’s chances of ultimate success in their first ACC campaign, it will probably be the play on the defensive side of the ball. While not exactly overly-impressive a year ago, the team already has to deal with the loss of leading tackler, safety Shamarko Thomas. Coaches hope that junior Durell Eskridge can fill that void effectively.

The 2012 Syracuse run defense was not a think to admire neither–something they will need to improve heavily on if they do wish to contend with the Florida State’s and Clemson’s of the world.

Speaking of those two, the Orange have contests scheduled with each this upcoming season. They welcome Clemson to the Carrier Dome on October 5 and then later take a trip to Tallahassee on Nov. 16. As is expected, these two games should give us an indication of not only where Syracuse sits currently in their new home, but also how far they need to go.

As far as the rest of the Orange’s 2013 ACC schedule, it actually looks quite manageable, should the team consistently progress on the improvements it began to showcase during the spring game. I’ve looked up and down more than once, and altogether, an 8-4 season isn’t necessarily out of the question.

No matter how many jokes one may be compelled to crack about Syracuse–and believe me I’ve heard quite a few–keep in mind that this is a football team that last year took the eventual Sugar Bowl Champion Louisville Cardinals to the woodshed in the Carrier Dome 45-26. Clemson fans may want to keep that stat in mind before they start taking slight jabs at the Orange leading up to that October contest in the Dome.

Do I expect the Orange to walk in this season, shove aside FSU and Clemson, and immediately pronounce themselves the new kings of the ACC Atlantic? No, not by any means. But, at the same time, this isn’t a team that should be ignored nor pushed to the side neither. Just as last season, they can strike at any moment and leave you wondering why you even doubted them in the first place.

If you don’t believe me, again, ask Charlie Strong and Louisville.

Jack is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS

 

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Duke-Syracuse Game Preview, Prediction





Starting the season outside of the Top 25, the Duke Blue Devils were playing with a chip on their shoulder. Now that they are 7-1 on the year, no one is overlooking the darkhorse favorites to dethrone Florida State for an ACC title. The Syracuse Orange started the season 2-0, but have since lost six of seven to lead to a 3-6 record. While they aren’t a threat for the conference title, the Orange can still play spoiler.

Senior quarterback Anthony Boone has been the spark that has gotten the Blue Devils going this season. Boone has passed for 1,628 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions while rushing for another 243 yards and four touchdowns. Jamison Crowder is clearly the team’s top receiving weapon, catching 49 passes for 636 yards and four touchdowns. Max McCaffrey and Issac Blakeney have been basically equal in the receiving department, both catching 26 passes for three scores apiece while McCaffrey has 261 yards and Blakeney has 259 yards. Freshman running back Shaun Wilson has been a main reason for the team’s run success, rushing for 528 yards and four touchdowns.

Syracuse had been led by a dual-threat quarterback of its own in Terrel Hunt who had 983 passing yards and a touchdowns as well as 292 yards and six rushing scores before his injury. He hasn’t returned yet, paving way for freshman quarterback AJ Long to get the nod as the starter. Long hasn’t been very impressive, however, passing for 727 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions. Jarrod West doesn’t care who’s behind center as he has been effective either way, catching 40 passes for 610 yards. Steve Ishmael has been the second-best wide out on the team, catching 20 passes for 311 yards and three scores. Prince-Tyson Gulley has been solid this season in the run game, leading the team with 526 yards and a touchdown while also catches 20 passes out of the backfield for 107 yards.

Defensively, the Orange have been a bit above average this season, ranking 38th in total yards allowed as well as 43rd in points allowed per contest. In their three wins this season, Syracuse has given up an average of 12 points. Before last week, Duke had done a solid job of keeping opponents out of the end zone. On the year, the Blue Devils rank 13th in points against and a lowly 81st nationally in total yards allowed.

Duke will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 8. The game will be broadcasted on GamePlan/ESPN 3.

PREDICTION: Duke 23, Syracuse 21

Want to see the Blue Devils take on the Orange in week 11? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at connor.muldowney@rantsports.com.

Duke will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange in week 11. Who will come out on top?

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