FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: ACC Network. Home Record: Syracuse 2-1, Georgia Tech 2-1. Away Record: Syracuse 1-1, Georgia Tech 1-2. Neutral Record: Syracuse 0-1, Georgia Tech 0-0. Conference Record: Syracuse 1-1, Georgia Tech 2-2. Series Record: Georgia Tech leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Coming off their first league win as a member of the ACC, the Syracuse Orange will try to get a winning streak going when they visit the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for a conference bout at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
One of the founding members of the original Big East conference, Syracuse transitioned to the ACC this season and didn't take long to get the first league win. The Orange topped NC State, 24-10, in Raleigh last weekend to even both its conference record (1-1) and overall mark (3-3). Syracuse has actually won three of its last four games but has played just one true road game.
A promising start for Georgia Tech has been slipping away as the Yellow Jackets have lost three straight games. The most recent setback was a 38-20 loss at BYU. The three losses largely erase the momentum the Yellow Jackets earned when they opened the year on a three-game winning streak. Just like the Orange, the Yellow Jackets are also sitting at .500 in league play (2-2).
These teams have met just twice before, with Georgia Tech taking both meetings. The most recent contest came in 2004 when the Yellow Jackets rolled to a 51-14 victory in the Champs Sports Bowl.
In comparison to the rest of the ACC, Syracuse has been an average offensive team ranking right near the middle of the conference in both scoring (31.3 ppg) and total offense (421.2 ypg).
The quarterback situation at Syracuse has been a murky one. Terrel Hunt provides dual-threat ability but has been inconsistent as a passer, while Drew Allen, a more traditional pocket passer, did not impress to begin the year. Hunt threw for just 74 yards and was intercepted twice against NC State and has now throw for 594 yards and seven scores with five interceptions. Allen (57-of-98, 572yards, two TDs, seven INTs) has been even more mistake prone.
The backfield tandem of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley has kept the Orange offense propped up. Smith has rushed for 482 yards and eight touchdowns on the campaign, while Gulley (316 yards, four TDs) has been producing at an impressive rate as the secondary option. Hunt has also been an important contributor on the ground, averaging 6.7 yards per carry while scoring three touchdowns.
Ashton Broyld (27 receptions, 262 yards) has been a nice safety net at receiver for Hunt and Allen as he leads the team in receptions. However, Broyld is averaging less than 10 yards per catch. Jarrod West (11 receptions, 211 yards, TD) and Chris Clark (17 receptions, 207 yards, three TDs) have been the real playmakers in the passing game.
Syracuse is one of the best teams in the ACC in creating negative plays on defense, recording 51 tackles for loss, the third most in the conference. Despite that strength the Orange has not been an overly dominant unit, allowing 388.3 yards and 24.5 points per game. Jay Bromley (9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks) and Marquis Spruill (37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks) have been sensational in getting into the opponent's backfield.
As usual Georgia Tech has been relying heavily on the run this season, ranking at the top of the ACC in rushing offense (290.3 ypg), while sitting squarely in the middle of the league in total yards (421.3 ypg).
Heading up the attack is Vad Lee, who has really struggled through the air and on the ground in recent weeks. Lee has tallied 282 rushing yards and four scores this season but has just 51 yards in the last two games, while he has not thrown a touchdown pass while being intercepted four times in the last three contests.
When Lee is taking the ball and running himself there is a trio of running backs that get the job done for the Yellow Jackets. Chief among them is David Sims, who has rushed for team-highs in yards (353) and touchdowns (six). Robert Godhigh (254 yards) and Zach Laskey (186 yards, TD) also get some work each game.
The limited work for receivers in the Georgia Tech offense has primarily gone the way of DeAndre Smelter (14 receptions, 211 yards, two TDs) and Godhigh (10 receptions, 188 yards, two TDs), who has been the best receiving option among the Georgia Tech running backs.
If there is hope for Georgia Tech to recover from its current slide it might lie on the defensive side of the ball. The Yellow Jackets are allowing 22.3 points per game but have also given up almost 40 yards more per game than the Orange (347.7 ypg). That is part of the immense amount of time the Yellow Jackets eat up on offense with a more than 10-minute advantage in time of possession each week.
The lack of consistency at quarterback will be a pain for Syracuse all season unless Hunt can start to step up. On the road against a Georgia Tech team desperate to get back in the win column doesn't seem like the best place to start.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 30, Syracuse 21
Saturday, October 19, 12:30 p.m. (et)