Wake Forest will travel to Syracuse in Week 11 for a matchup that has major bowl implications for both sides.
The Demon Deacons pulled off an impressive upset at home against Louisville in Week 9, but then fell to the juggernaut that is Notre Dame this season last week. Similarly, since pulling off perhaps the biggest upset of the college football season and knocking off Clemson in Week 7, the Orange have lost two straight, to Miami and Florida State.
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Wake Forest-Syracuse score, live updates
Wake Forest-Syracuse game information, picks
Date: Saturday, November 11
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Regional networks
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Pick: Wake Forest 35.6-Syracuse 29.0 (from the OddsShark computer)
Wake Forest-Syracuse preview, keys to game
Both Wake Forest and Syracuse have made some noise in the ACC Atlantic Division this season, upsetting teams considered potential conference champions at the year’s outset. Both have also had their share of struggles.
Now, as the two meet in the Carrier Dome in Week 11, it could well be that the winner reaches a bowl game and the loser misses out on the postseason.
Syracuse seems in more desperate need of the win. At 4-5 on the season, the Orange need to win two games of a final three game slate that includes the Demon Deacons, Louisville and Boston College. Wake Forest, on the other hand, already has five wins and will face N.C. State in Week 12 and then close its season against Duke.
The Carrier Dome has proven a strong home-field advantage for the Orange. Syracuse pulled perhaps the nation’s most shocking upset this season by knocking off defending national champion Clemson in Week 7. In fact, all four of the Orange’s wins on the year have come at home; they are 4-1 in the dome and 0-4 on the road.
The biggest challenge for Syracuse may be bouncing back from a deflating loss to Florida State in Week 10. The Orange trailed virtually the entire game but battled back and had a chance to tie the game at the end of the fourth quarter, but kicker Cole Murphy’s field goal attempt sailed wide left.
Syracuse has a potent passing attack, led by junior quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey ranks 22nd nationally in passing yards per game, with 277.2, and has thrown 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on the season.
Dungey has two reliable weapons on the receiving end, most notably senior Steve Ishmael. Ishmael ranks second in the nation in receptions on the year with 78 and fourth in receiving yards with 986. Last week, against Florida State, Ishmael had 12 catches for 143 yards and his fifth touchdown of the year. He was rewarded with the ACC Receiver of the Week award as a result.
Ervin Phillips has served as a strong compliment to Ishmael. Phillips has 73 catches for 733 yards and three scores on the year.
Wake Forest has largely struggled to defend the pass this season. Last week, Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush threw for a career-high 280 yards against the Demon Deacons. The week prior, defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson accumulated 332 yards through the air.
That said, the Demon Deacons have been even worse against the run this year. Even with star running back Josh Adams out for the majority of last week’s game, Notre Dame rushed for 380 yards against Wake Forest. That’s not even the most yards the Demon Deacons have allowed on the ground this year. Georgia Tech ran for 427 in Week 8.
While Syracuse has not exactly excelled on the ground this year — it’s ranked 73rd nationally in rushing — it will likely look to exploit Wake’s defensive weakness by running the ball.
On the other side of the ball, Wake Forest has had a recent renaissance, though the loss of freshman receiver Greg Dortch, who led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, will likely hurt against the Orange. Dortch became the first Wake Forest player ever to catch four touchdowns in a game in Week 11 against Louisville but after the game underwent season-ending surgery.
The Demon Deacons have set a new season high in total yardage each of the past three weeks. Against a stingy Notre Dame defense, the Demon Deacons racked up over 300 yards both on the ground and through the air for 710 total yards. Wake has now averaged 31 points over its last three games after scoring just 17.7 per game in the three before that.
Senior quarterback John Wolford will look to take advantage of a Syracuse pass defense that is ranked 73rd in the country to out-duel Dungey. This has all the makings of a shootout — whichever quarterback can have the bigger day will likely come out on top.
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