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Nine years after their last matchup, Syracuse and Rutgers will resume their Big East rivalry at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
The Orange are coming off a 29-9 win over Ohio in their season opener, while the Scarlet Knights put up 61 points in its 47-point win over Temple last Saturday. The game will be the first football matchup with fans in the Carrier Dome since November 2019, when the Orange beat Wake Forest in overtime.
Here’s what our beat writers expect when the Orange face the Scarlet Knights:
Roshan Fernandez (1-0)
New Jersey > New York
Rutgers 28, Syracuse 24
In a renewal of the Big East rivalry between New Jersey’s team, Rutgers, and New York’s team, the former will prevail. The Scarlet Knights have an explosive offense, as head coach Dino Babers emphasized during his weekly press conference on Monday, and the return of Greg Schiano and his defense spells trouble for an Orange offense that’s still gelling. Syracuse’s offensive line looked improved against Ohio, but a Mid-American Conference team will prove to be a different test than a Big Ten Conference one. The Scarlet Knights managed three wins during a 2020 schedule that featured solely Big Ten opponents, securing wins over Michigan State, Maryland (in OT) and Purdue. Michigan needed overtime to beat Rutgers, and RU scored 27 points against No. 3 Ohio State in a loss, too. There’s no question that the Orange have made progress since 2020, but there’s still a lot more room for growth.
Connor Smith (1-0)
Syracuse 35, Rutgers 28
Syracuse’s game against Rutgers is the first football game in the Carrier Dome with fans since a November 2019 game against Wake Forest that the Orange won in overtime. Babers emphasized the importance of having the “12th man” behind his team at home, where SU went 1-5 last year. Expect a high scoring affair — Rutgers put up 61 points on Temple last weekend and has multiple speedy weapons on offense. It will be the kind of up-tempo, big offensive numbers kind of game that Orange fans expected when Babers was hired in 2016. Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito will have to throw for more yards than the 92 he did against Ohio, but behind Sean Tucker and a more experienced defense, SU will pick up a big win at home to exceed its 2020 total.
Anish Vasudevan (1-0)
Defense, defense and more defense
Rutgers 30, Syracuse 15
The return to a packed Carrier Dome should provide Syracuse the motivation it needs to start strong against Rutgers. But the reality of the 3-3-5 defense stopping a Scarlet Knights’ attack, which put up 61 points over Temple last week, is doubtful. If the Orange want a chance in this game, they need to preach defense, specifically at the secondary position. Despite keeping Ohio out of the end zone, SU allowed 346 yards from the Bobcats, roughly 80 more yards than the Scarlet Knights allowed in their win over Temple. SU’s secondary is strong with true freshman Darian “Duce” Chestnut and Garrett Williams at the cornerback positions, but its safeties allowed some splash plays from Ohio. If Syracuse’s defense allows these types of plays, Rutgers will most likely find the end zone because it is a Big Ten team, not a MAC one. The Orange’s best shot is to repeat what helped them offensively last week — run the hell out of the ball. This would ensure that the clock stays running and gives the Scarlet Knights fewer possessions. Limiting possessions is all SU can do, and hopefully for fans in the Dome for the first time since 2019, that would be enough.
The post Beat writers split on outcome of Syracuse’s home opener appeared first on The Daily Orange.