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Syracuse (1-8, 1-7 Atlantic Coast) has two chances to avoid its second 1-win season of the modern era, and Saturday’s game against NC State (6-3, 5-3) is the first.
The matchup with the Wolfpack is the last time at least some SU seniors will play in the Carrier Dome. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to every senior football player because of COVID-19, but it’s unclear how many will return in 2021.
Here’s everything you need to know about NC State:
All-time series: Wolfpack lead, 11-2
Last time they played: NC State won, 16-10
Both teams entered last year’s matchup in Raleigh at 3-2. Bailey Hockman, who comes into Saturday with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020, made his first career start.
But the Wolfpack got it done on defense. NC State sacked quarterback Tommy DeVito five times in the first half and scored a touchdown on a wide receiver pass to go ahead early.
The Orange fell behind 16-0 but fought back with 10 unanswered fourth-quarter points. Syracuse took possession for a two-minute drive down 16-10 with a chance to take the lead, but DeVito took a sack on a Hail Mary attempt, letting the clock run out.
DeVito, who hasn’t played since injuring his foot against Duke on Oct. 10, threw for 300 yards. He no longer needs a walking boot, but there’s no timetable for his return. Babers has said he never wants to put players in a position where they can’t protect themselves, and with only two games remaining, a return seems unlikely.
Betting odds: Syracuse +14 as of Tuesday night, per BetOnline
The NC State Report:
NC State is middle of the pack in just about every basic team stat and has played a slew of close, competitive games. Last week, it eked out a win against ranked Liberty, 15-14. It lost 44-41 to No. 11 Miami but defeated No. 24 Pitt 30-29. The team’s home opener, too, was a 45-42 nail-biting win over Wake Forest. Overall, the Wolfpack’s scoring margin is actually in the negative, with 283 points scored to 285 allowed.
Nonetheless, NC State is a solid team that has been able to withstand key injuries better than SU. The Wolfpack have lost quarterback Devin Leary and three defensive backs for the season due to injury. The team’s resilience was reflected in last week’s win over Liberty, in which Dave Doeren’s team held dual-threat quarterback Malik Willis to 216 total yards and three interceptions.
How Syracuse beats NC State:
Syracuse can beat NC State by putting together a far more complete effort than it has all season. The Orange have an upset chance if they jump ahead early, forcing the Wolfpack to throw more than they’re comfortable doing, and control the tempo with its rushing attack.
NC State averages 32.6 pass attempts per game, compared to 36.9 rushes, and Hockman is prone to make mistakes. Syracuse’s defense will continue to make plays, but it’s a matter of whether its offense can provide any lift and keep the D off the field sufficiently.
Stat to know: 6
Running back Zonovan Knight is NC State’s most explosive offensive weapon, averaging six yards per touch from scrimmage. He’s a threat as a rusher, receiver and kick returner. Knight averages 5.7 yards per carry and 8.1 yards per reception. His eight touchdowns on the season — seven rushing, one returning — are tied with quarterbacks Leary and Hockman for the most on the team.
Player to watch: Isaiah Moore, LB, No. 1
Isaiah Moore was one of three Wolfpack defenders to earn ACC Player of the Week honors last week. He’s seventh in the conference in total tackles (74) and has three sacks on the year.
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