After committing 14 penalties but still managing to blow out Maine 38-14, Syracuse is set to take on another sub-division school: Colgate. This is the second Division I-AA team the Orange is playing this season, which means it will not count towards or against bowl eligibility.
The two teams have met 65 times and believe it or not, Colgate owns the series 31-29-5. Syracuse has won the last 14, though, including a 52-6 thumping of the Red Raiders the last time they matched up in 1987. That was the year Syracuse went 11-0 in the regular season. The Orange cannot have a perfect regular season in 2010, but it can extend its winning streak against its in-state opponent to 15.
Keys to the Game
Cut Down on Penalties
Quite simply, Syracuse needs to start playing more disciplined football and it might as well start this week against the Red Raiders. Losing 111 yards on 14 penalties is unacceptable no matter who you’re playing.
Colgate loves to run the football. The Red Raiders average 226.5 rushing yards per game. Its quarterback, Greg Sullivan, has run the ball into the end zone three times this season (131 rushing yards overall) compared to just one passing touchdown (231 passing yards on the season). Syracuse’s biggest handful will be Nate Eachus, who is averaging 139.5 yards per game and has scored two touchdowns. For its part, the Orange has played well against the run under Scott Shafer. Only three players have rushed for over 100 yards against the Syracuse defense during the Shafer era (Dion Lewis, Pitt, 110; Jordan Toddman; UCONN, 123; Chris Poilk, Washington, 117). I give the advantage to the greatly improved Syracuse unit.
Don’t Take Colgate Lightly
Colgate is a subdivision team that just lost to Fulman 45-15 last week. This game will not count towards bowl eligibility (but what bowl is going to want to extend an invite to a team that lost to Colgate?). It is still imperative Syracuse wins the game and enters Big East play 3-1.
“Winning is important for this program,” Doug Marrone said. “The winning, you would hope goes ahead and builds confidence.”
Winning will not only build the confidence of the Syracuse players but also the fans that this program is on the right track. This week, the Orange again needs to avoid “the trap” and beat the Division I-AA Red Raiders in convincing fashion. That’s what competitive, prominent teams do: demolish bad teams at home.
Get Off to a Better Start
This is not to say Syracuse cannot get off to a bad start and still win like it did last week. Still, Marrone would like to see a first quarter more comparable to the ones against Akron and Washington than last week’s atrocious first fifteen minutes. Field position will play a key role in this on offense and defense. If Syracuse can do a better job returning punts and kick-offs and prevent Colgate from doing the same, it may be able to avoid another rocky start. Time of possession will also be a big factor in getting ahead early. SU only held the ball for two minutes and fifty-eight seconds in the first quarter against Maine. Obviously, if you don’t have the ball, you can’t score. Marrone addressed this in practice so look for the offense to be stronger out of the gate this weekend.
Not to mention, the sooner the Orange takes control of the game, the sooner it can get its younger players some game experience. At the rate we’re going with injuries, this team will need all the help it can get as the season wears on. Marrone was very impressed with the young guys on defense. Expect to see more of my new favorite player, Malcolm Cater, this Saturday. Hopefully, we’ll see some more big hits out of the young linebacker.
Prediction: 41-14 Syracuse
Syracuse predictably goes into Big East play 3-1.
- Wide receiver Marcus Sales is expected to see more playing time this week. The CBA alum has struggled in practices, but Marrone says he has seen improvement and wants his experience on the field.
- Mike Holmes was named Big East Special Teams Player of the Week. I’d say that’s well deserved after his ridiculous 62-yard punt return that I called the play of the game. I think Sports Center was too busy focusing on the crazy Michigan-State game (understandably so). Holmes earned Big East Defensive Player of the Week in week one.
- Marrone spoke very highly of Colgate’s head coach Dick Biddle’s mentoring skills on Monday. Biddle, in his 15th season at he helm, is 114-52 and has the most wins in program history.
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.