In a matchup of two Big East teams fighting for their postseason lives, the Connecticut Huskies will travel to the Carrier Dome to take on the Syracuse Orange in a primetime game on ESPN.
The Huskies have been so up and down already this season that they could reel off four or five wins in a row, or they could lose their last five games and no one would be surprised.
The Orange are floating in the same boat as the Huskies, though they look much better in losing than does Connecticut. They have been able to hang around against the likes of USC and Rutgers, so they could be one of those teams that is better than their 2-4 record indicates.
Where: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York
When: Friday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Listen: 1080 WTIC Newstalk (UConn); 970 AM The Answer (Syracuse)
Betting Line: Syracuse (-5), according to Vegas Insider
Connecticut Injury Report (via USA Today)
Questionable: RB Lyle McCombs (Disciplinary Reasons); FB Michael Osiecki (Concussion)
Out: DE Jesse Joseph (Achilles); DE Ted Jennings (Knee); TE Sean McQuillan (Ankle); QB Casey Cochran (Wrist)
Syracuse Injury Report (via USA Today)
Out: WR Kyle Foster (Lower Body); DT Ryan Sloan (Lower Body); FB Myles Davis (Lower Body); T Kristofer Curtis (Undisclosed)
Connecticut enters this game with a 3-4 record, including 0-2 in the Big East. If this team wants to sneak into a bowl game, the Huskies have to start building some positive momentum and beating teams in the conference.
Syracuse has rebounded slightly from an 0-2 start, going 2-2 in its last four games. The Orange are still trying to find a balance on offense and get stops on defense, but quarterback Ryan Nassib has done a great job piling up yardage, though he still turns the ball over too much.
What They Are Saying
Connecticut played a strong game against Temple, at least early before letting the Owls storm back with 17 unanswered points to win by a field goal.
Quarterback Chandler Whitmer commented after the game (via Middletown Press) that the short week to prepare for Syracuse is not going to be a problem after a devastating loss.
“We’ll learn from this one,” UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. “We’ll watch it (Sunday), and we’ll move onto Syracuse. We have a short week, and I know we will be ready to go and fired up for it. People will spend some extra time preparing, and we will be ready to go.”
Connecticut Player to Watch: WR Geremy Davis
The Huskies are at their best when the offense is efficient and the defense is dominating. They aren't going to do much to wow you with the ball, but Davis is the best playmaker they have.
Through seven games, Davis is averaging 14.8 yards per game, though he has just one touchdown catch.
Quarterback Chandler Whitmer has been quite dreadful this season with 11 interceptions so far, but if he can contain his turnover tendencies long enough to find Davis down the field, the offense can put up points against this Syracuse defense.
Syracuse Player to Watch: QB Ryan Nassib
The best part of Syracuse's offense is the passing game, led by Nassib. Like Whitmer, he tends to get into problems by forcing passes or making bad throws and turning the ball over.
Despite those problems, Nassib has been quite effective opening things up. He has a good completion percentage of 64.8 and already has 1,908 passing yards in just six games.
Key Matchup: Chandler Whitmer vs. Syracuse's Secondary
If Connecticut had even an average offense, it would probably be competing for the top spot in the Big East, a potential BCS berth and ranked in the Top 25.
Sadly, the Huskies haven't been able to find the right balance that works, and Whitmer's turnover problems don't make things easier.
Syracuse has had its own problems on defense, allowing nearly 26 points per game. The Orange would seem to have the edge in this particular matchup because they don't have to put a lot of pressure on Whitmer to force bad decisions.
Turnovers always decide close games, so whichever side wins the battle in the passing game is going to win this matchup.
Syracuse plays much better at home than on the road. Connecticut has lost its last two road games after beating Maryland. The trend will continue.
Syracuse 28, UConn 20