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2021 Rutgers Football Game Preview #2 at Syracuse

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The Scarlet Knights will travel to the Carrier Dome to take on Syracuse.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Temple at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

Rutgers at Syracuse

Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY

Kick-off: Saturday, September 11 at 2:00 PM ET

Weather (Dome): 79 degrees, partly cloudy with a 5% chance of rain, 10-15 mph wins

TV: ACC Network with Mike Couzens (play-by-play), Dustin Fox (color), Dana Boyle (sideline)

DirecTV: 612 (SD & HD), Dish Network: 402 (SD & HD), New Visions (Syracuse Regional Cable Provider): 80 (SD) and 780 (HD), Optimum: 248 (SD & HD) – available as part of Optimum Sports Pack & Optimum College Sports Pack, Spectrum: 388 (SD & HD), Verizon Fios: 71 (SD) and 571 (HD)

Stream: ESPN App

Radio: Radio: RWJBarnabas Health Rutgers Sports Network (WCTC 14-50-AM, WOR 710-AM, XM 389) with Chris Carlin (play-by-play), Julian Pinnix-Odrick (analyst) and Anthony Fucilli (sideline); WRSU 88.7 FM - Chris Tsakonas & Dylan Allen

Current Spread: Rutgers -1.5

Series History: Syracuse leads, 30-12-1; last meeting was in 2012 with Rutgers winning 23-15

Syracuse SB Nation Site: Nunes Magician

Statistical Leaders

Rutgers

Passing: Noah Vedral - 15-for-27, 55.6%, 138 yards, 1 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

Rushing: Noah Vedral - 71 yards on 9 carries, 7.9 ypc, touchdowns

Receiving: Bo Melton - 6 catches for 59 yards, 9.8 ypc, 1 touchdowns

Defense: Olakunle Fatukasi - 7 tackles and 3 sacks, Max Melton & Tre Avery - 1 interception

Syracuse

Passing: Tommy DeVito - 11-for-17, 64.7%, 92 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions

Rushing: Sean Tucker - 181 yards on 25 carries, 7.2 ypc, 1 touchdown

Receiving: Anthony Queeley - 3 catches for 39 yards, 13.0 ypc, 0 touchdowns

Defense: Mikel Jones - 10 tackles, Duce Chestnut - 1 interception

What To Watch For

When Rutgers has the ball

Rutgers created five turnovers, forced a safety, and got a pick six in Week 1 against Temple. This led to 61 points and an exciting victory to begin the season. Against Syracuse, the Scarlet Knights are going to have to battle a bit more — especially on the road.

The rushing attack for both sides is going to be key here for both sides. Let’s begin with Rutgers’ attack against the defense of the Orange. This is an improved front for Syracuse and they allowed 134 yards on the ground to Ohio in Week 1. This could have been a product of the Bobcats playing from behind but the defense for the Orange is still improved.

““They’re a good team, they scored a lot of points,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said in a press conference on Monday. “They scored and they got on [Temple] in the second quarter really close to halftime and then they extended it in the third quarter. Once they had them, they took them out. Once they got them on the ropes, they took them out. So this is an explosive crew.”

“Their skill is really, really good; really, really fast. They can do things. They’re kickoff returners or punt returners, this is a very very skilled unit. If they get out on us, they’re going to be hard to go get. They’ll probably get all of it so we got to really cross our t’s and dot our i’s in that situation.”

This is the key for the Scarlet Knights. Can they continue to be aggressive? Isaih Pacheco will have to get more involved. He finished with just 35 yards and a touchdown against the Owls. If Pacheco gets more involved, the offense can take another step forward. Noah Vedral ran well in Week 1 and Bo Melton is as explosive as ever. This game will be a big test for the offense and it begins on the ground.

When Syracuse has the ball

Greg Schiano had a lot to say about the offense for the Orange during Monday’s press conference.

“They have a very complex run game. It’s triple-option football by another name,” Schiano said.” They’re reading it, they’re throwing it. DeVito can beat you with his arm and his feet. He extends the plays — they’ll run the zone read and then carry it all the way out and then throw it to the receiver so you have to account for all of it. It’s not the traditional wise-bone triple option but it’s got all the elements of it. They’re running RPO’s. They’re doing everything that can challenge you defensively. Not only in the math of the quarterback running the ball but spreading you and making you cover 53 1/3.”

Syracuse rushed for 283 yards and gained 6.4 yards per carry. They had seven players carry the ball, led by Sean Tucker with 181 yards. Tommy DeVito did not put the ball in the air much but this is not a one-dimensional offense.

The Scarlet Knights are strong up front and they can create turnovers. Both will have to be present on Saturday in the Dome. The Orange like to show many moving parts and have the defense scrambling a bit. The Scarlet Knights have struggled against running quarterbacks and DeVito can move. He gained 49 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in Week 1. This is a matchup to keep an eye on heading into Saturday afternoon.

Could Rutgers win this game?

Rutgers is favored so they can certainly win this game. The feeling going into Temple was that they might be able to compete a bit. That was clearly wrong. It’s time to double-down on that notion with Syracuse. Home-opener for the Orange, fans are back in the building, two 1-0 teams in a it of a rivalry matchup — there are plenty of factors that can make this game difficult for the Scarlet Knights.

Final thoughts

Despite the difficult factors, the Scarlet Knights should go into this game believing they can win and fans should be confident. If this team is going to find a path to six wins, this is one that they need to have.

Is Syracuse as bad as its 1-10 record from 2020? No. There were plenty of close calls and games that could have been different. With that being said, records speak for themselves. In a head-coach battle, Schiano holds an edge over Babers. On paper, Rutgers is the better team.

All of this means nothing if the Scarlet Knights do not perform on the field. Saturday at 2 P.M. will show a lot about how Rutgers is going to be this season.