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October 12, 2012

Rutgers vs Syracuse: Who has the edge?

Bobby Deren

Ryan Murray

This is a close one, although I'll give the edge to Rutgers because it has a more balanced attack. Jawan Jamison has gone over 100 yards rushing in each game this season while the Orange ground game does not pose a similar threat. Cuse's rush offense ranks just 83rd in the nation and its leading rusher Jerome Smith has just about half the yards of Jamison. The Orange does possess a potent passing game featuring Ryan Nassib while Rutgers has also moved the ball through the air with sophomore Gary Nova.
Which team has the more potent offense?
Despite having two bad games on offense, I would say the nod still goes to Syracuse. The Orange have a quick paced offense looking to maximize the amount of plays they run. Ryan Nassib has the ability to pass for a 300 yard game with no problem, and even when he has a game like that, the run game will still make plays. For Syracuse on offense, it is about not beating themselves. When they do make mistakes, it has cost them huge. Rutgers fans should expect a different kind of Syracuse team than the one they have seen in the past.
Jawan Jamison. The sophomore has reeled off six straight 100-plus yard rushing performances and enabled Rutgers to control the time of possession. If Jamison can continue to get it going against Syracuse's 59th ranked rush defense, it could spell trouble for the Orange. A successful ground game would open up things for the RU passing attack, but it all starts with Jamison. He has found a way to break through each defense he has faced this season, and even carrying 102 times over the last three games has not seemed to faze Jamison a bit.
Who is the Offensive 'X Factor,' and why?
I know it might be cliché to say the quarterback, but I think Ryan Nassib is the X-factor. He touches the ball more than anybody else, and the offense will move as he moves. If he is on and moving the passing game, then it will help the offense as a whole.  He also has been able to ht multiple receivers this year, so if his first read is not there he will move through his progressions until he finds somebody to make a play. Nassib is not the fastest person out on the field, but when he does pick his spots he is effective.
Rutgers. It is on the strength of its defense that Rutgers has been able to go undefeated through five games. It is a faster defense than the team has had in previous years and first-year defensive coordinator Robb Smith has done an excellent job of scheming week in and week out. Rutgers has the No.2 rush defense in the country and checks in at No.15 in total defense. Meanwhile, the Orange boast the No.5 defense in the Big East and have fared better against the pass than the run. Rutgers will bring in a much more balanced attack on Saturday.
Which team has the better defense?
The better defense has to go to Rutgers. The Syracuse defense is improving and they had their best outing a week ago against Pittsburgh. With that said, this season has seen the Orange defense play solid, but during the start of the season there have been about two or three plays per game that have added over 100 yards to their opponent's final offensive stats. If the Orange can stop the big play from happening, they will be ok. Yet since that has not been seen on a regular basis, there is no thought that giving up the big play has ended yet.
The RU secondary. The unit was shaky in its previous battle against a top-flight quarterback in Arkansas' Tyler Wilson. The unit was scorched for 417 passing yards, although all four starters in the defensive backfield have the potential to play on Sundays. If the RU pass rush cannot get a push against the Orange, the RU secondary will be asked to play even bigger this week. That means winning a fair amount of one-on-one battles against the Cuse receivers.
Who is the defensive 'X Factor,' and why?
For Syracuse this player can change weekly and this week it will be defensive end Brandon Sharpe. Against Pittsburgh, he had four sacks and two other tackles for a loss. If Sharpe can continue to cause havoc in the back field, that could free other players up to make plays. Also, when you have an end coming off the edge and getting to the quarterback, it can make them a little uneasy and could throw his game off.
Rutgers gets the edge, but with so many questions about its kicking game, things are a lot closer than they might normally be. With Kyle Federico's health in question, it remains a mystery as to who will handle the placekicking responsibilities on Saturday. Punter Justin Doerner has struggled of late but Jeremy Deering is one of the nation's most dangerous kick returners, assuming he ever gets the chance to actually bring a kickoff out.
Who has the edge on special teams?
Right now it is not even close, Rutgers is the better team. The Orange have been awful at almost every aspect of special teams -  they can't cover or return the football. They struggle punting and field goal kicking, which was once a strength, but has fallen off a bit.
Both teams have proven that their passing attack can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. While Nassib may have the edge over Nova, the Rutgers wide receiving corps has more playmakers than the  Orange wide receiving contingent. Cuse has more  possession receiver types, whereas Rutgers has more receivers - namely Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison - who can stretch the field. The edge in this one goes to Rutgers.
If the game comes down to a final drive, which team drives the length of the field?
Syracuse has been able to have long sustained drives during the season. The reason for this has to go back to the new offense and being able to get in a rhythm. In years past, the Orange have struggled moving the ball because they could not find a rhythm. Now with a solid mix of run and pass in rhythm, Syracuse has a fluent offense that is able to move the ball.
Rutgers has not won any of its five games by fewer than nine points and has made big plays when needed throughout the course of the season. The Orange have gotten the better of Rutgers in two of the last three games, but this is easily the best RU squad Syracuse will have faced in as many years. The level of talent up and down the roster favors Rutgers and that talent is producing in big ways this season. Syracuse just doesn't have the playmakers to generate enough production on the road. Meanwhile, Rutgers is playing at a higher level and will again make plays when needed to fend off the Orange. Rutgers 26 Syracuse 14

Which team will win?
Since Doug Marrone took over, the games against Rutgers have been close for the most part, with the Orange holding a 2-1 edge. I think there is a solid chance for the Orange to make it a 3-1 record this weekend. The Orange have the offense to make up for mistakes their defense might make. If Syracuse is to win this game, they must not continuously shoot themselves in the foot; meaning no red zone turnovers or letting up the big plays on defense. Syracuse 31 Rutgers 24

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