Tulane (2-1) at Syracuse (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Carrier Dome (49,262) -- Syracuse, New York. Television: RSN. Home Record: Tulane 1-1, Syracuse 1-0. Away Record: Tulane 1-0, Syracuse 0-1. Neutral Record: Tulane 0-0, Syracuse 0-1. Conference Record: Tulane 1-0, Syracuse 0-0. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 7-1.
GAME NOTES: With the ACC opener against No. 3 Clemson looming, the Syracuse Orange will play a final non-conference matchup against Tulane at the Carrier Dome.
The Green Wave have traded wins and losses in their first three games and enter this game with a 2-1 record. The Green Wave's most recent victory came in the Conference USA opener against league newcomer Louisiana Tech. Tulane posted a 24-15 victory in the contest, the first of three straight on the road. The win was the first in a Conference USA opener for the Green Wave since 2005.
Syracuse faced an opponent from outside the FBS ranks in Wagner most recently. After suffering losses in its first two games, the Orange took some frustration out on the Seahawks by rolling to a 54-0 victory and in turn, handing Scott Shafer his first win with the program. In this contest the Orange are shooting not just to get back to .500 but for their 700th all-time victory. That mark would rank 15th among FBS programs.
The Green Wave have enjoyed a major scoring advantage through the first three games with a differential of +11.3. However, Tulane is only totaling 348 yards of offense per game, while surrendering 370.
The offensive scheme for Tulane is based primarily on the passing game. Tulane has 712 passing yards as opposed to 332 rushing. Nick Montana is the signal caller for the unit. Montana has thrown for 706 yards and seven touchdowns, despite completing just 56.7 percent of his passes. Montana has also been picked off twice this season.
There is no doubt who Montana's favorite target it. Ryan Grant has 24 receptions for 348 yards and three scores. His yardage total makes up almost half of the team's entire production through the air. No other player on the team has more than seven receptions or 75 yards.
Orleans Darkwa (43 carries, 15 yards, five TDs) has been the primary ball carrier but hasn't been an explosive option. His longest rush is 13 yards. Rob Kelly (140 yards) is a more dynamic rusher with an average of 6.7 yards per carry.
Tulane may be allowing 370 yards per game, but the Green Wave looked solid on defense against Louisiana Tech. The Green Wave surrendered just 289 yards and 14 first downs to the Bulldogs. Tulane also let up the fewest points in a game since 2010.
Safety Sam Scofield has been producing at a high level with a team-high 25 tackles, three for loss and five pass breakups. The secondary has really been a strength for the Green Wave, which has 28 pass breakups as a team, the most in Conference USA.
Syracuse was able to recapture, if just for a day, the offensive success it had a year ago, when Ryan Nassib was under center. The Orange piled up 595 yards of total offense against Wagner and also had 27 first downs in the contest. It continued a trend for the Orange, who have totaled more yards than the previous week in each game this season.
Three different receivers have already eclipsed the 10-catch and 100-yard mark for the Orange. Jarrod West (10 receptions, 207 yards, TD) showed a lot of big-play ability against Wagner, while Ashton Broyld (18 receptions, 145 yards) and Chris Clark (11 receptions, 142 yards, two TDs) have been reliable on a consistent basis.
Starting quarterback Drew Allen completed just 8-of-11 pass attempts for 62 yards and a score against Wagner before Terrel Hunt took over. Allen is completing just 57.3 percent of his pass attempts this season and has been intercepted six times. Allen's struggles may open a door for more playing time for Hunt.
Syracuse was stout against Wagner, allowing just 87 total yards and five first downs. However, the Orange are not a terribly strong defensive squad, with the success against the Seahawks more a symptom of the drop in the level of competition. Taking out the Wagner game, Syracuse is allowing 467 yards per contest.
The Orange defense is one that works well as a unit, as 10 different players have reached double digits in tackles already. Durell Eskridge (13) and Cameron Lynch (13) are the leaders in that regard, with each having an interception as well.
This game is likely to be one that will be won through the air. Both teams like to throw and throw often. Allen has struggled but Tulane's defense may be a unit he will have success against. With a more balanced attack at home, Syracuse has the edge.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 34, Tulane 20
09/18 10:37:28 ET