This Saturday the Syracuse Orangemen will host the Connecticut Huskies in the Carrier Dome at 7PM. Syracuse will look to improve to an improbable 5-2 record in the Big East with a win and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Connecticut comes to the Dome with a 5-4 overall record, 2-2 in conference play. Good news for the Orangemen: Connecticut is 0-4 on the road this season in the Big East. In an interesting twist of fate, Syracuse's two conference losses both came at home, and they were undefeated in 2010 on the road in the conference.
Last week, Syracuse clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004 with a 13-10 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Connecticut spent their Saturday pulling out a huge upset win against the Pittsburgh Panthers 30-28, behind 222 rushing yards by Jordan Todman. After the game Randy Edsall performed this little dance number in celebration.
Last season Syracuse traveled to East Hartford and were defeated by the Huskies 56-31, in a game many felt former Syracuse Football player and current Huskies head coach Randy Edsall ran up the score late in the game. This year Syracuse has a chance to return the favor and close out the Big East schedule in style with a victory against a head-to-head recruiting rival.
Connecticut is lead into the Dome Saturday by Jordan Todman, star running back. Todman currently has 1,176 yards in just eight games and 9 rushing touchdowns. Jordan Todman also has 15 catches for 97 yards and is currently the 7th leading rusher in the nation. He is definitely the biggest threat on this offense and needs to be stopped in order for Syracuse to prevail.
The Huskies passing attack starts with senior quarterback Zach Frazer, who hasn't exactly set the college football world on fire this season. He has completed 80 of 148 passes for 871 yards and 4 touchdowns (2 interceptions). With Syracuse paying obvious attention to Jordan Todman, they will be daring Frazer to beat them. Hopefully the secondary is ready. Todman has almost rushed for as many yards himself as the entire Huskies team has in receiving yards this season (1,176 to 1,410).
Leading wide receiver for the Huskies is Michael Smith (6'1" 202 pounds) who has 30 receptions for 470 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was held without a catch last week against Pittsburgh. Kashif Moore (5'9" 180 pounds) is the second leading receiver with 28 catches for 361 yards and 4 touchdown catches. Lastly, Syracuse needs to watch for tight end Ryan Griffin (6'6" 243 pounds) who has 19 catches for 135 yards and 1 score.
On defense the Connecticut Huskies have given up an average of 22.1 points per game, which ranks 43rd in the country. They allow 364.1 yards per game on average, which is 56th in the nation.
The Syracuse Orangemen defense allows just 297.1 yards per game, which is amazingly 9th best in the country. 17.8 points per game allowed is 12th best in the country and Syracuse's passing defense is a tremendous 12th best in the country as well, allowing just 168.3 yards per game. The most important facet of the defense on Saturday will be the run defense, which is 31st best in the nation right now, averaging 128.8 yards per game.
Ryan Nassib currently has 1,777 passing yards, completing 154 out of 277 attempts and 16 touchdowns. Nassib has throw at least 1 touchdown pass in each game this season and has thrown just 6 interceptions. Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey have continued to be a two headed monster for the Orangemen, with DC3 averaging 5.2 yards per carry and Bailey carrying a 4.9 yards per attempt average. Good news for the Orangemen, Prince-Tyson Gulley is back on the practice field this week, seemingly fully recovered from his bout with mono. His status for the game on Saturday isn't officially known, but it is a good sign to see him back out there.
After sitting out last weeks game, Alec Lemon is expected to play Saturday. Lemon has 29 catches for 365 yards and 4 touchdowns. Van Chew is leading the Cuse with 36 catches for 563 yards and 5 scores and tight end Nick Provo has emerged a viable receiving option, catching 29 balls for 322 yards and 1 touchdown this season. This past Saturday, Marcus Sales re-established himself as a weapon for the Orange passing attack, hauling in 5 balls for 73 yards against Rutgers.
With a win on Saturday, Syracuse can improve to 8-3 on the season and finish the conference schedule at 5-2. With a win they can finish no worse than 2nd in the Big East, a conference that many "experts" predicted Syracuse to finish in 7th place. Connecticut will look to keep their post-season hopes alive with a win and try to earn favorable positioning in the Big East standings with a win. Bud Tribbey, Syracuse nose tackle who sat out against Rutgers last week, is expected to play.
The game kicks off at 7PM and will be televised live on ESPNU. Tickets are still available and if you are in the area, find a way into the Carrier Dome! Be sure to check back with The Cuse Connection for a complete post game report and analysis following the game.
photo courtesy of syracuse.com