|Though he's tough to see here, Syracuse defensive end Brandon Sharpe hopes to be in the face of Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova on Saturday. (AP)|
Kickoff: Saturday, noon ET (Big East Network/ESPN3)
Spread: Rutgers by 7
Watchability: It will be interesting to see how the Syracuse offense performs against one of the top defense's in the country. The Orange can score -- something Rutgers struggles with at times -- so the Scarlet Knights could be in danger.
Shining stars: Syracuse: DE Brandon Sharpe. After recording four sacks against Pittsburgh, Sharpe was named both the Big East and national defensive player of the week. If his encore performance can shut down the Rutgers passing attack, it could be a tough day offensively for Gary Nova and the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers: LB Khaseem Greene. Last year's Big East defensive player of the year has picked up right where he left off in 2011, and he is again among the conference leaders in tackles. Greene recorded his first career interception in last week's victory over Connecticut, and that will be a helpful skill with pass-happy Syracuse rolling in.
Who could steal the show: Syracuse: WR Alec Lemon. Lemon, who is the Orange's all time leader in receptions, has not been a major offensive cog so far this season. Receivers Marcus Sales and Jarrod West have been quarterback Ryan Nassib's favorite targets, but Lemon can bust out if Rutgers' defense focuses too much on the other two. Rutgers: RB Jawan Jamison. The second-year starter has gone over 100 yards rushing in each of the Scarlet Knights' first five games, and he's eclipsed the century mark in six of his last seven games dating back to last season. Syracuse has an average rush defense, which will suit Jamison nicely.
You going? Ranking the road trip: A nice, early afternoon start in Piscataway would be a perfect way to start the weekend. It could be a close game, too.
Magic number for Syracuse: 95. In its opening loss to Northwestern, Syracuse's offense ran 95 plays -- its highest figure since a triple-overtime game in 2002. Nassib and the offense are experienced, so running the no-huddle has been effective for the Orange. Look for them to try to catch Rutgers' defense off guard.
Magic number for Rutgers: 8. Of Rutgers wide receiver Brandon Coleman's 11 touchdowns, 8 have been of 30 yards or more. Look for him to get behind the Syracuse secondary.
The game comes down to: Points. Syracuse likes scoring 'em, but Rutgers doesn't give 'em up much. If things go the Scarlet Knights' way, it will be a low-scoring battle that will be won in the trenches.
Eye on College Football's take: Syracuse always seems to be a wild card in conference play, and Rutgers is hoping that the Orange defense from Week 6 does not make the trip to New Jersey this weekend. Syracuse held Pittsburgh to just 27 team rushing yards, and Sharpe led a relentless pass rush that brought down Tino Sunseri five times. Jamison has recorded five straight 100-yard rushing games, and if he is slowed down, then Nova must move the offense through the air - exactly what Sharpe and Co. are hoping for. If Jamison can average 3-4 yards per carry (averaging 4.62 on the season), it will take pressure off Nova and allow the Scarlet Knights to dictate the game's pace. -- Chip Patterson
Prediction: Rutgers 27, Syracuse 17
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