|Cincinnati running back George Winn has been the Bearcats' most reliable offensive weapon this season. (US Presswire)|
Kickoff: Saturday, noon ET (Big East Network)
Spread: Cincinnati by 4.5
Watchability: Suddenly, this is an elimination game in the race for the Big East title. The Orange are the surprise team in the conference at this point, and a win at Cincy would build their credibility.
Shining stars: Syracuse -- QB Ryan Nassib. The senior has been one of the most prolific passers in the country all season -- he's currently ninth nationally in yards per game -- and he was very impressive in the Orange's comeback win over South Florida last weekend, tossing four second half touchdown passes. He'll be going up against a Cincinnati defense that surrendered 416 yards last Friday to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, so not necessarily a juggernaut. Cincinnati -- RB George Winn. The Bearcats' most consistent offensive weapon, Winn has rushed for 75 yards or more in each game this season. He's coming off a 26-carry, 125-yard game against Louisville an average Syracuse run defense.
Who could steal the show: Syracuse -- WR Marcus Sales . Playing opposite the Syracuse all-time leader in receptions (Alec Lemon), Sales has benefited from getting less attention from opposing secondaries. Sales has eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards in five games this season, most recently last week against USF when he had nine catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Cincinnati -- QB Munchie Legaux. Saturday will offer Legaux the opportunity to atone for his rough week -- both on and off the field -- last week. Legaux talked a big game heading into the matchup with Louisville but failed to back it up, throwing for just 157 yards and three interceptions.
You going? Ranking the road trip: Again, this is a sneaky big game in the conference. If Syracuse can pull out a road win it will be a viable candidate to compete for the Big East title.
Magic number for Syracuse: 8. That's how many fourth quarter comeback wins senior quarterback Ryan Nassib has engineered in his career at Syracuse. The Orange may need some more magic Saturday.
Magic number for Cincinnati: 1. As in, the Bearcats cannot afford another conference loss. The Bearcats will need some help if they expect to win the league, but a second loss will absolutely sink them.
The game comes down to: Attitude. It seems kind of childish, but these teams enter Saturday's game at totally different points of their respective seasons. Syracuse is trending upward after a thrilling comeback win over South Florida, while Cincinnati is in danger of losing its third straight game. Someone's course must reverse.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, Syracuse 25
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