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Northwestern-Syracuse Predictions

It's time for week two of our predictions. Like last week, people are pretty confident in Northwestern.

Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

A lot of this has to do with whether Kain Colter and Venric Mark play. I don't have any insider information on this, but I have a hunch they won't play all that much. I'm expecting a start similar to last year's NU-Boston College game. Syracuse will hang around for awhile as NU fails to finish in the redzone, but eventually, the Wildcats will get on track and the Orange won't be able to keep up. If Colter and Mark do play — they very well could — I see NU rolling pretty easily. But the bottom line is NU's offense without Colter and Mark is still better than Syracuse's. The Orange will have a tough time keeping up if the game even gets to the high 20s.

Northwestern 31, Syracuse 20

Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)

It would be easy to overlook Syracuse – a team Northwestern edged in a fast-paced thriller last season, but enters 2013 weathering a veritable decline in player talent (Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Marcus Sales, Alec Lemon) while trying to overcome the challenges that attend a semi-successful head coach somewhat surprisingly bolting in favor of the NFL this offseason. The Orange have some solid defensive pieces, and they did give Penn State a real run at MetLife Stadium last week, but this is an easy call: the Wildcats are better than their visiting opponent in every phase.

It could be a rough inaugural go-round for Syracuse in the ACC, and it did itself no favors by scheduling games against Penn State and NU the first two weeks of the season. Last week’s loss was tough, because Syracuse had a real shot against the Nittany Lions; this week, I expect Northwestern to win convincingly. Whereas Cal boasted the threat of a high-powered, fast-paced offense, a batch of mostly untapped upper-echelon West Coast talent and a hazardous logistical blend – late kickoff time, history of Big Ten teams flopping in Pac 12 venues, etc. – working in its favor, Syracuse finds itself in a textbook transitioning year, still adjusting to life under Shafer. Northwestern should win comfortably.

Northwestern 27, Syracuse 13

Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)

A lot of this is will depend on whether Kain Colter and Venric Mark play, as they are currently listed as “questionable” on this week’s injury report. Trevor Siemian proved he is capable of leading the team as the sole quarterback, but the offense just isn’t as dynamic without its two biggest playmakers. Syracuse’s defense, despite losing a lot of talent, isn’t bad and will blitz often, possibly disrupting Siemian, who is more of a pocket passer and less mobile that Colter.

Syracuse’s quarterback, fifth-year senior Drew Allen, who just transferred from Oklahoma, had an average game against Penn State but will presumably improve with each game as he learns the system. However, I think NU’s defense is up to the task. Dwight White, replacing Daniel Jones in the secondary, has looked good in practice—actually he’s looked pretty good ever since he got burned for a touchdown against Cal.

If Colter and Mark play (and aren’t too affected by their injuries), this will be a blowout. If they don’t, I still think NU pulls out the win with a breakout game from White.

Northwestern 27, Syracuse 17

Josh Rosenblat (@JMRosenblat)

Last week, Northwestern owned the fourth quarter. This week, I don’t think NU will need to. The ‘Cats should start the game with plenty of energy in their home opener and even if Kain Colter and Venric Mark are not 100 percent healthy, Trevor Siemian and Trayvon Green showed that they are more than capable of picking up the slack. Like Penn State’s freshman quarterback Christian Hackenburg, who looked strong last week while throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the Nittany Lion’s 24-17 win over Syracuse, Siemian should be comfortable attacking the Orange through the air from the pocket. Both of Hackenburg’s touchdown’s came on plays over 50 yards, so except Siemian to take a couple shots down the field to deep threat Tony Jones who caught a touchdown last week.

On defense, Collin Ellis and co. should have an easier time against the Syracuse offense than they did last week against Cal as I don’t expect the Orange to run anywhere near the 99 plays the Golden Bears ran last week. Northwestern should be able to take care of business for the second straight year in the “Prose Bowl."

Northwestern 27, Syracuse 14

Gordon Voit (@GordonVoit)

The final score of this game will be incredibly hard to pick because it will almost certainly not reflect the true texture of the game. So it goes when two leaky secondaries square off. Syracuse held Penn State to just 1-of-16 in third down conversions last week, yet a pair of mistakes cost the Orange touchdowns of 51 and 54 yards that swung the game in the Nittany Lions’ favor.

Syracuse’s one offensive threat is 217-pound back Jerome Smith, the ACC’s leading returning rusher (1,171 yards last season). He’s a guy that reminds me of Julius Jones – muscular but not bulky, quick but not a burner and with a good burst that is limited by his at-times high pad level. Syracuse’s offensive line is slightly weaker than Cal’s, which means Northwestern’s front four should have no problem getting pressure.

Dyshawn Davis and Marquis Spruill are a fine pair of linebackers, but there’s not enough talent around them to be truly effective. That lack of balance means OC Mick McCall can be more aggressive with his efforts to neutralize Davis and Spruill with the superback corps and weaksiders Ian Park and Paul Jorgensen. If that duo is looking for clips of their ability to make impact blocks in the next level of a defense, this is the game to do it.

Northwestern 34, Syracuse 20

Nate Williams (@BigEasyCat44)

Its said the biggest improvement in a team happens between week 1 and week 2. Thankfully for Northwestern, Syracuse has a lot more to improve upon. Syracuse played a in a VERY sloppy game vs PSU. Tons of turnovers, tons of penalties and minimal offensive production, though their defense looked stout against the run.

Kain's status and Venric's status still seem to be up in the air.  I still think we put up solid numbers either way. I don't think ‘Cuse has the speed in the secondary or the perimeter to contain our offense with either gameplan we come out with. Defensively, I think we give up a few big plays or from Gully or Allen. The Cats can finally game plan and bring pressure, I think we see 6 sacks and 3+ Ints. Nothing about this offense impressed me last week and I think Allen might be pulled after the first half.

Tough game to predict score-wise given our question marks on offense. However I think this will be one of our better match-ups in the season gameplan wise.

Northwestern 37, Syracuse 17

Jon Davis (@NUHighlights)

Syracuse held Penn State to 1 of 16 on third down. That will not happen Saturday. I expect better red zone conversion than what the Wildcats did in Berkeley, and a relatively comfortable game.

Northwestern 31, Syracuse 17