Crystal Ball Prediction vs. Syracuse

The Bearcats take an undefeated record into their Homecoming game, as they face a rebuilding Syracuse Orange team that can't be taken too lightly.

There is no question as to who will have more talent on the field for this game.

The Bearcats should have their way with the Orange in this one as the rebuilding at Syracuse continues under third-year head coach Doug Marrone.

The Cuse offense was stagnant against the Cats' defense last season in their 28-7 loss to UC, and with the departure of quarterback Greg Paulus and troubled wide receiver Mike Williams, it could be another long season in New York.

The ball will be in the hands of junior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who threw for 422 yards, three touchdowns and completed nearly 53 percent of his passes last season. He completed seven of ten passes for 97 yards against the Cats last season.

The key will be if Nassib can develop chemistry with sophomore wide receiver Alec Lemon, who is a speedy wide out that runs a 4.4-4.5 40-yard dash, and junior Van Chew who only caught six balls last year. Their number three receiver is also a question. Aaron Weaver is a transfer from Hofstra who caught 63 passes for the Flying Dutchmen last season, but is in a new system with young players around him. If they can all get on the same page, the Orange offense could be a potent one.

Senior running back Delonne Carter, who put up a 1,000 yard season in ‘09, was involved in legal trouble in the off season and was suspended for the spring and summer from school, but is expected to return for fall quarter.

The question is whether he will face suspension from head coach Doug Marrone. If so it will likely be Antwon Carter starting the season in the back field.

Carter is a bull of a back and if he can play this season he will take pressure off of Nassib and the young offense around him.

The only established unit on the Cuse offense is their three returning offensive linemen. The hope for Syracuse lies with their defense.

With a defensive line full of juniors and seniors, three senior linebackers and a defensive backfield filled with seniors, there are few spots to exploit on this defense.

Leading tackler from a year ago, middle linebacker Derrell Smith will lead the "attack," which is what coach Marrone is encouraging his defense to do more this season. Linebacker Doug Houge is coming off a season where he recorded 9.5 sacks, so alongside Smith they make for a talented duo.

They return three of four starters on the front line that will push this defense forward and start the "attack" that Marrone is looking for.

The Cats had no problems moving the ball through the air in last seasons battle, as UC quarterback Zach Collaros went 22-28 for 295 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions against a defensive backfield with plenty of experience.

Free safety, Mike Holmes returns for the Orange after finishing second on the team in tackles last season with 77 and leading the team with three interceptions.

Also returning is strong safety Max Sutter and starting cornerback Da'Mon Merkerson. The Syracuse defense will have to keep them in the game, especially if the young Orange offense struggles to get on the same page.

Prediction: 21-7 UC. The Orange offense is too inexperienced and will be overloaded by the Bearcat defense, while the Syracuse defense keep the game close, but Collaros and the talented UC wide receivers will be too much to handle as the Bearcats stay undefeated.

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