2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Wake Forest at Syracuse
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Sept. 1 at Syracuse 36 … Wake Forest 29 OT
CFN Analysis: Syracuse might have played it too cautiously at the end of regulation before getting its possible game-winning field goal blocked, but the brilliant play by Ryan Nassib to Van Chew to end in overtime will overshadow just how strong the team was in the fourth quarter. Antwon Bailey came up with a brilliant game with 25 carries for 114 yards and two scores, but it's Nassib who managed to keep the game rolling, even though the Orange were lousy when moving the chains. The problem was that the offense wasn't consistent and didn't do nearly enough until it absolutely had to. The defense struggled way too much, especially in the secondary, but the pass rush helped the cause in the second half generating enough pressure to stop the Demon Deacon offense when needed. There's one more week of tune-up with Rhode Island up next before going to USC, and now, after a confidence-builder like this, the team should be ready. The Orange wouldn't have won this type of game last year.
How fast can Wake Forest bounce back? Last year it couldn't seem to get the offensive production over after a little bit of adversity hit, and once again it's the injury bug that's the biggest issue. Tanner Price threw three touchdown passes and 289 yards before getting knocked out, and while Ted Stachitas did a nice job under pressure-packed circumstances, the offense needed Price in the clutch. Stachitas didn't push the ball down the field and he couldn't move the attack late; he was a bit too indecisive. The Ten penalties were bad and the defensive breakdown late was worse, but the offense outgained SU 406 yards to 299 and this looked like a night-and-day better team than last year's squad.
(AP) SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Van Chew made a diving 4-yard touchdown catch in the left flat at the goal line on the first series of overtime, and Syracuse rallied past Wake Forest 36-29 on Thursday night in the season-opener for both teams.
The Demon Deacons got the ball one last time, but the Syracuse defense held for one of the few times on the night and forced a fourth-down incompletion from the 19 from Ted Stachitas to Chris Givens in the right corner of the end zone.
Kevyn Scott appeared to secure the victory for Syracuse when he made a diving interception over the middle at the Wake Forest 32 with just over 5 minutes remaining and the game tied at 29-all. But Ross Krautman, who had made a school-record 16 straight field goals, had his 32-yard attempt blocked by Kyle Wilber with just under 3 minutes to go in regulation.
It was a breakthrough of sorts for the Orange. Syracuse's last win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team in the Carrier Dome was a 31-13 upset of Rutgers in November 2009. Syracuse was 0-4 last season against FBS teams in the Dome and hasn't had a winning season overall at home since it went 4-1 in 2004.
Wake Forest, which lost starting quarterback Tanner Price to an injury early in the fourth quarter, couldn't mount a threat behind backup Ted Stachitas. Price was 18 of 31 for 289 yards and three touchdowns.
The Orange had rallied furiously after trailing 29-14 early in the fourth quarter.
After Jimmy Newman's 40-yard field goal gave Wake Forest a 15-point lead with 11:02 left, Syracuse's Antwon Bailey scored on a 53-yard run around the left side and quarterback Ryan Nassib hit fullback Adam Harris for a 2-yard score with 8:26 left.
Price hit Chris Givens on scores of 60 and 22 yards, and had a pretty 16-yarder on a third-and-goal play to Michael Camapanaro.
The defense was supposed to be the weak link for the Orange with a veteran offense returning. It was until the end, and so was the offense until it finally got untracked late against Wake's 3-4 spread.
Nassib was 12 of 20 for 85 yards passing through three quarters and finished 20 of 28 for 178 for the Orange.
The Syracuse defense, which lost its heart with the graduation of linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue, missed too many tackles and never mounted any kind of pressure on Price, and he repeatedly made them pay. Price had 12 completions of 13 yards or more.
Free safety Phillip Thomas was burned twice by Givens on long passes. Givens hauled in a 37-yard pass in the first quarter to help set up Jimmy Newman's 38-yard field goal, his 13th straight conversion. Givens then blew past Thomas again on the right side and caught a 60-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage after Syracuse had scored its first touchdown.
The Orange offense finally got going when Nassib hit tight end Nick Provo over the middle at the Wake Forest 15. Provo broke a tackle by linebacker Riley Haynes and rumbled into the end zone for a 7-6 lead with 9:29 left in the first half.
The Demon Deacons scored again on their final possession of the first half when the Orange were unable to stop a third-and-goal play from the 16 and just over 2 minutes to play.
Price ignored the bad snap on the previous play that had resulted in a 13-yard loss and hit Camapanaro in the right corner of the end zone behind a stumbling strong safety Shamarko Thomas, and Wake Forest went to the locker room with a 20-7 lead.
In the first half, Syracuse gained just 52 yards on 22 plays offensively, and its defense was torched for 258 yards on 45 plays
Syracuse closed to 20-14 on Bailey's 1-yard run with 5:33 left in the third. The Orange capitalized on a roughing-the-passer penalty against linebacker Joey Ehrmann on a third-down incompletion from the Wake Forest 11. Ehrmann's father probably had a nice view of the infraction -- he played for Syracuse in the early 1970s and was signing books on Wednesday night at a local theater.
Undaunted, after converting a fourth-and-1, Price hit Campanaro over the middle for 18 yards. Givens then scored on a 22-yard catch-and-run on the next play, easily breaking a weak tackle attempt by Kevyn Scott in the left flat and scampering untouched down the sideline for a 26-14 lead with 20 seconds left in the third.
With eight returning starters on offense and a quarterback with one year as the starter under his belt for the Orange, that side of the ball was being counted on. Instead it sputtered mightily, gaining minus-5 yards in the opening quarter and did not get its initial first down until 11 minutes remained in the first half.
The Orange also were hampered by their enthusiasm, getting called for five penalties in the first quarter alone. A terrific punt by Shane Raupers was nullified when Dorian Graham slammed Campanaro a split second before he touched the ball. That gave the Deacons the ball near midfield and Newman kicked a 37-yard field goal early in the second for a 6-0 lead.
Syracuse finished last season by gaining nearly 500 yards offensively in a 36-34 victory over Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The team trotted the trophy out at halftime, but on this night that triumph seemed a distant memory until the frantic finish.
Wake Forest (0-0) at Syracuse (0-0)
Sept. 1, 8:00, ESPN3.com
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Here's The Deal … The Demon Deacons and Orange hook up for just the second time ever, as the 2011 season kicks off on Thursday night. Syracuse is looking to build on its breakthrough campaign under Doug Marrone, which was highlighted by eight wins and an upset of Kansas State in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl. Having turned the corner with its first winning season since 2001, the program is out to prove its no one-hit wonder. Doing so, however, will require replacing integral parts of last season's offense and defense. Now that Wake Forest has fallen, can Jim Grobe get his team off the mat? The darlings of the ACC from 2006-08 have fallen on hard times of late, slumping to 3-9 a year ago. The good news out of Winston-Salem, though, is that the program used a ton of underclassmen in 2010, and returns the second most starters in the league. The Deacs figure to be improved, with a trip to the Carrier Dome giving an early indication of just how much.
Why Wake Forest Might Win: The Deacons prefer to navigate the field on the ground, and will find few reasons to change course versus an Orange D breaking in two new tackles and two new linebackers. Wake will be content to turn loose talented backs Josh Harris and Brandon Pendergrass, who'll have the luxury of running behind G Joe Looney and a physical O-line. The offense will also get ground production from QB Tanner Price, a shifty escape artist who can make things happen outside the pocket. If Syracuse commits too many resources to the box, Price will exploit its unproven corners with help from dangerous WR Chris Givens.
Why Syracuse Might Win: Of all the things that went wrong for the Demon Deacons in 2010, none was more frustrating than the play of the defense. It'll open the new season with a tough test versus an Orange offense that's built around LT Justin Pugh and the underrated front wall. Even without Delone Carter, Syracuse should be able to run the ball behind patient senior Antwone Bailey. And QB Ryan Nassib is about to become the face of the attack now that he has a full season as the starter in the vault. He'll have no shortage of quality hands with which to expose the Wake secondary, including TE Nick Provo and receivers Van Chew, Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon.
What To Watch Out For: The growth of Nassib in 2011 will depend on his blockers' ability to protect the pocket better than it did last fall. With time, the junior has All-Big East potential. Wake Forest, though, has enough speed in the front seven to keep him from setting his feet for very long. Pugh & Co. will have their hands full throughout the night. LB Kyle Wilber, NG Nikita Whitlock and DE Tristan Dorty are capable of whipping the Orange off the snap. Wilber, in particular, has a high ceiling, which could land him in the NFL at the end of the year.
What Will Happen: While Wake Forest is assured of being improved from 2010, opening on the road against a confident opponent is a tall order. The Demon Deacons will attempt to slow down the game by grinding out possessions and stiffening on defense in the early going. It'll work for a while, giving the visitors hope, before Nassib puts his stamp on the opener with a couple of touchdowns through the air. Although the Orange will get the W, Wake will earn the kind of moral victory it can build upon as the season unfolds.
CFN Prediction: Syracuse 27 … Wake Forest 17
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Syracuse -7 O/U: 49
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