Thursday, October 28, 2010

Football Team Back Out on the Road, Travels to Cincinnati

On Saturday the Syracuse University Orangemen travel to Cincinnati, OH to take on the Bearcats at Nippert Stadium, the 5th oldest venue in college football. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 and the game will be televised live on ESPNU. The biggest question on everyones minds is whether or not QB Zach Collaros will get the start for the Bearcats.

Zach Collaros left last weeks 38-30 loss to USF in the 4th quarter with a knee injury and did not return. He was seen on crutches this week, however he was on the practice field in a limited role. Backup Chazz Anderson worked out with the Bearcats starters, while Collaros worked mainly with the second team. If Collaros is unable to play, Anderson will get his first start for Cinci since 2008. On Tuesday, Zach Collaros said he felt as if his knee was "sliding around a little bit," however he has not been officially ruled out of Saturdays game.

The Bearcats have struggled this season, losing 3 of the first four games under new head coach Butch Jones, formerly the head coach of Central Michigan University. Butch Jones, who took over the head coaching duties after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, has steered the team to a 3-4 overall record, 1-1 in the Big East.

Syracuse on the other hand is coming off the program's biggest win in years, a stirring 19-14 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown. The win pushed the Orangemen's record to 5-2, 2-1 in the Big East. Syracuse hadn't won in Morgantown since 2000, and now Syracuse will look to get their first win ever against Cincinnati in Big East play. Syracuse beat Cincinnati in 2004 19-7, the season before the Bearcats joined the conference.

If Zach Collaros is unable to play it will be a tremendous blow to the Bearcats who rely heavily on the passing game. Last week Collaros had 4 touchdown passes before being forced from the game and has 20 TD passes on the year. In comparison the team just has 7 rushing scores, nearly a 3:1 ratio.

Leading the receiving corp are D.J. Woods and Armon Binns. Woods has 40 catches for 687 yards and 6 TDs. He averages 17.2 yards per catch and had 137 yards on 9 catches in last weeks game against USF. Binns has 44 catches for 683 yards and 9 touchdowns. In the USF game Binns had 158 yards on 12 catches and 2 TDs. With 15 touchdown grabs between the two receivers through 7 games, Syracuse will certainly have their hands full with or without Collaros under center.

The rushing game is led by Isaiah Pead, who has 595 yards on 77 carries. Pead has just 1 rushing TD on the season, with the majority of scores going to John Goebel who leads the team with 3 rushing touchdowns on 26 carries. Goebel has just 179 total yards on the year however he averages 6.9 yards per carry.

On defense Cincinnati is ranked 64th in the nation with an average of 367.71 yards per game allowed. Their 23.4 points per game allowed is 51st overall. Conversely, Syracuse's defense allows just 301.57 yards per game, 16th best in the nation and the Orangemen's 19 points per game allowed is 28th best in the country.

The offensive side of the ball is where the Orangemen's troubles have been during conference play. While the rushing attack has been relatively strong for the cuse (minus the Pittsburgh game where nothing went right) the passing attack has been extremely limited. In last week's win over West Virginia, Syracuse rushed for 183 yards on the #4 rushing defense in the country, while Ryan Nassib was held to just 63 passing yards. Nassib completed only 5 passes on 15 attempts, however he did throw a touchdown pass to Van Chew and was not intercepted. As long as Nassib protects the ball and doesn't turn it over, the Orangemen should be in business.

Syracuse will be looking to improve to 6-2 on the year, something the Orangemen haven't done since 2001 (lost the first two games before winning eight straight). The game is at noon and will be televised on ESPNU. After receiving votes in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Polls last week, a win on the road in Cincinnati may propel the Orangemen back into the rankings. Win or lose though, the Orangemen are still on track for a bowl bid.

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