COLGATE VS SYRACUSE
Time – Friday, September 2nd, 7:00pm, Carrier Dome
TV/Radio – ESPN3, 99.5FM WTKW
Series – Colgate leads 31-30-5 (Streak: Syracuse 15)
Last meeting – 2010, Syracuse won 42-7
Coaches: Syracuse – Dino Babers (1st season); Colgate – Dan Hunt (3rd season, 14-12)
New Beginnings – Syracuse is starting a new era of Orange football under Dino Babers. It represents hope amongst the fan base, new systems, a proven head coach and buzz around the program. This game is the first in that era, and a chance for Babers to show his fans things are different this time around.
Serving Youth – Syracuse has 26 players who are either freshmen or sophomores on the two-deep entering week one. That is a lot of inexperience, but also shows that the talent is increasing over the last two or three recruiting cycles. Specifically with what the staff did closing out 2016 with talented players that fit the system. Conversely, Colgate has 18 out of 22 starters returning from 2015.
Fast – Not only does the Syracuse offense want to go at a blazing fast speed in terms of tempo, but they want to get off to a fast start. A big play right off the bat would certainly get the Carrier Dome buzzing and immediately put Colgate on their heels. How many plays will Syracuse run? Will it wear down the Red Raiders or create a lot of quick three-and-outs? Those are major questions entering this game.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Battle in the trenches
We know there are question marks for Syracuse on both lines of scrimmage entering the season. But this is a game where the Orange should have the upper hand. Dominating in the trenches bodes well for Syracuse enjoying a decisive victory in this game, and provides hope for the rest of the season. As much as many will be intrigued by the performance of Eric Dungey, the skill guys and the secondary, it's the battle up front that may mean the most in this one.
Orange wins if …
They Come to Play – If Syracuse takes Colgate seriously and comes out with energy and enthusiasm, they should win this one. They are more talented, have more team speed and have more size and strength all over the roster. Syracuse does need to respect Colgate, however, and treat them like a legitimate opponent.
Red Raiders Win if …
They Pull Off Some Trickeration – Whenever there is a major upset in college football, there are generally some trick plays. A fake on special teams, a reverse pass, etc. Colgate needs that if they are going to win this one. A couple of those combined with Syracuse thinking they will win just by taking the field is a recipe for an upset.
QB Eric Dungey – Dungey showed flashes of star potential last season as a true freshman. Entering his sophomore campaign, the only thing that may prevent a big year is health. That said, he has all of the tools to excel within the offense. In a matchup where his skill guys have seemingly big advantages, a gaudy box score should follow.
Something to Prove
Syracuse Defensive Line – Has any unit on the Syracuse roster been questioned more than the defensive line? Specifically, the defensive ends? This is a perfect opportunity to answer some of those. There is talent in this group, but much of it is unproven.
Looking to Build
WR Steve Ishmael – Entering the season as Syracuse's clear number one receiver, Ishmael is looking to build off of a 2015 season that saw him lead the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns. If a 1,000 yard, 10 touchdown campaign is ahead of him, the season opener is a great opportunity to get off to a fast start.
Freshman to Watch
DE Kendall Coleman – Coleman has earned the starting gig at one of the defensive end spots. Will he show everyone why Babers has put so much faith in him? He is one of many freshmen who will be monitored throughout this game.
Opposing Players to Watch
QB Jake Melville - The entire Colgate offense runs through their dual threat quarterback. He rushed for nearly 1,100 yards last season to go along with 11 touchdowns. He also threw for over 2,500 yards with 11 more scores. Melville can scramble, make plays on designed runs and hurt the Orange with his arm. If Colgate is to pull off an upset, it needs a huge day from its senior quarterback.
RB James Holland - Holland finished second on the team is rushing last year with 732 yards. He led the team in rushing touchdowns with 16. Holland is a shorter running back, but is thick and compact. He runs well between the tackles and will not go down with arm tackles.
WR Alex Greenawalt - A 6-foot-3 target, Greenawalt led Colgate in receiving touchdowns last season. He also finished second in receptions and yards. Greenawalt has a nice frame and will test the Syracuse secondary.
DE Pat Afriyie - A physical defensive end with some quickness off the edge, Afriyie led Colgate with 9.5 sacks a year ago. Watching him test the Syracuse offensive tackles will be a fun battle.
NT Alex Campbell - Campbell may be the starting nose tackle in Colgate's 3-4 scheme, but he is also a solid pass rusher up the middle. He finished last season with 7.5 sacks.
ILB Kyle Diener - Colgate's leading tackler with 129 in 2015 returns for his senior season. A smart, tough player, Diener needs to have a big game for the Red Raiders defense.
CB Tyler Castillo - Maybe Colgate's best cover corner, Castillo had a pair of interceptions last season.