Syracuse University returns to the Carrier Dome this Saturday to host Virginia Tech.
The 2-4 Orange is trying to bounce back after losses to Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
SU will kick off against the Hokies at 3:45 p.m. on ESPNU.
Here are NewsChannel 9 Sports Director Steve Infanti’s Keys to Victory for SU:
Air It Out
Win or lose on Saturday, this may be the most important thing for Syracuse to do against Virginia Tech.
In my opinion, the Orange has to get back to doing what it does best.
Through the first five games, the strength of this team was its ability to throw the football.
Against Wake Forest, SU got away from that.
Sure, part of it had to do with the weather.
Part of it though also had to do with a banged up offensive line and a Demon Deacons defensive plan that made Eric Dungey and company uncomfortable all night long.
Dungey only threw 16 passes last Saturday while the Orange finished the game with 40 rushing attempts.
With the return to the cozy confines of the Carrier Dome, Dino Babers and the Orange offense need to return to the pass-heavy attack we saw have success against the likes of Louisville and Notre Dame.
Win the QB Battle
This will not be easy.
Virginia Tech is led by junior college transfer Jerod Evans who has 13 touchdown passes and just one interception so far this season.
In addition, he’s rushed for better than 250 yards and two touchdowns.
As we all know, the SU defense has repeatedly struggled against dynamic quarterbacks – Lamar Jackson, Quinton Flowers, DeShone Kizer, etc.
The Orange defense will have to do a better job against Evans than that unit did against the others.
On the flip side, Eric Dungey needs to have a big game.
Part of that falls on the shoulders of the banged up offensive line (still playing without three starters). Part of that falls on the shoulders of Dungey himself who had an “off game” against Wake Forest. In order for Syracuse to pull the upset on Saturday, Dungey is going to have to outplay Evans.
Play with Urgency
Sometimes teams play best when their backs are against the wall.
If you’re an SU fan, you have to hope that’s the case here.
That loss to Wake Forest means there is absolutely no more room for error.
At 2-4, assuming losses to Florida State and Clemson, the Orange would have to win all of its remaining games to qualify for the postseason.
That goal is a long shot, but it’s not off the table quite yet. SU has to play like its season is on the line — because, frankly, it is.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is looking like one of the favorites in the Coastal Division.
So the Hokies have a lot to play for. Syracuse needs to match that intensity, especially early, if it hopes to hand Va Tech a surprising loss inside the Dome.