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Syracuse football opens its season Saturday at North Carolina after an offseason that included only three days of spring practice and players sitting out of multiple August practices.
Here’s what our football beat writers predict will happen Saturday in Chapel Hill:
Betting line: North Carolina is 22-point favorites over the Orange with a total of 63 points.
North Carolina 41, Syracuse 16
The Tar Heels are projected to be the third-best team in the 2020 iteration of the ACC, behind only Notre Dame and Clemson. The schedule makers did SU no favors scheduling a road trip against the conference’s second-best quarterback, Sam Howell.
The Orange’s new 3-3-5 defense will struggle against a Tar Heels offense that finished second last year’s ACC passing success rate. My real concerns lie with SU’s offense, which will be starting converted fullback and tight end Chris Elmore at left guard and will be without its top two running backs, Abdul Adams and Jarveon Howard.
Without being able to protect DeVito or run block, the Orange won’t be able to keep up with Howell.
So there really wasn’t a chance
North Carolina 52, Syracuse 24
In his press conference leading up to Syracuse’s season opener, Dino Babers quoted the “Dumb and Dumber” line, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” Just like Mary ultimately rejects Jim Carrey’s character, UNC will take care of Syracuse on Saturday. If Syracuse were to hang with the Tar Heels, they’d need to pressure sophomore phenom quarterback Howell, come up with a few turnovers and ride a career game from DeVito. I actually think Syracuse will be able to move the ball, but the likelihood of all those three things happening are, as Babers said, razor thin.
- Opponent Preview: What you need to know about North Carolina
- Beat writer Q&A: The Daily Tar Heel’s Ryan Wilcox breaks down Syracuse-UNC
North Carolina 48, Syracuse 10
This is not the game for Syracuse to unveil a new defense. With missing pieces all across the roster, a limited offseason to implement schemes on the field and multiple stoppages in practice, SU didn’t have the luxury of a full offseason to completely grasp the nuances of defensive coordinator Tony White’s 3-3-5. On the other side of the ball is UNC, an offense with Heisman-hopeful Howell, star tailbacks Michael Carter and Javonte Williams and two deep threats in Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown. The Tar Heels will score early and often against the Orange, and I don’t expect the SU offense to be able to keep up.
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