Syracuse will take a two-game winning streak into Cincinnati as they try to all but end the Bearcats' chances at a Big East title.
This is a dramatic reversal of where these teams were two weeks ago. Cincinnati was undefeated and climbing up the rankings, but they picked up two straight losses and they are now just 1-1 in the Big East.
Meanwhile, the Orange are flying high after a huge comeback against South Florida last week pushed them to 3-1 in the Big East, and to .500 on the season, which is not bad considering their 1-4 start.
Where: Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio
When: Saturday, November 3 at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: Big East Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: Cincinnati -5 (according to Bet Online on Oct. 30)
Who Might Not Play for Syracuse
*Injury information according to USA Today on Oct. 30. Click the link for updated info.
Questionable: Ashton Brolyd, RB (undisclosed), Ritchy Desir, CB (undisclosed)
Out: Kyle Foster, WR (lower body), Ryan Sloan, DT (lower body), Myles Davis, FB (lower body), Kristofer Curtis, T (undisclosed)
Who Might Not Play for Cincinnati
*Injury information according to the USA Today on Oct. 30. Click the link for updated info.
Questionable: Chris Williams, DB (head)
Out: Walter Stewart, DL (upper body)
Key Storyline: Munchie Legaux's deteriorating play
After a great start to the season, junior quarterback Munchie Legaux is struggling. He has thrown five interceptions in the last two games, and appears to be getting worse by the play.
In an overtime loss to Louisville last week, he lobbed an ill-advised late pass into the end zone that had no chance of being completed and it was picked off. He needs to get better.
What They're Saying
Syracuse is rolling, but don't expect coach Doug Marrone to start doing backflips over it. The Community and Press Recorder's Bill Koch helps explain why.
You can understand why Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is reluctant to declare the Orange’s come-from-behind victory over South Florida on Saturday as the turning point for a program that has been trying to get back to its glory days for over a decade.
There have been other potentially significant games in recent years, but the Orange still aren’t where they want to be.
“A lot of people write about that stuff, but I’m trying to have a significant season,” Marrone said Monday. “It’s very difficult to do that. We’ve taken one step forward at times and then we take a few steps back. Our goal is to become more of a consistent team and program. I don’t put a lot into one game. That’s been done before in the past and I think it’s hurt us a little bit.”
Syracuse Player to Watch: Ryan Nassib, QB
Senior quarterback Ryan Nassib is coming off a spectacular second half as he rallied the Orange to a 20-point, second-half comeback victory last week.
With three seconds remaining, he found Alec Lemon on a one-yard touchdown to set up the 37-36 win over South Florida. For just the half, Nassib went 18-for-224 with 258 yards and four touchdowns.
This was undoubtedly his season's highlight, and he has had a fine season. He is the Big East's leading passer and is hitting 65.5 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Cincinnati Player to Watch: George Winn, RB
This senior running back is shredding defenses. He has 732 yards on the season gained at an average of 6.0 yards per carry—an impressive number to be sure, but what really catches the eye is his consistency.
He has gained at least 75 yards in each game, and he hasn't had a game where he's averaged under 4.5 per carry.
Key Matchup: Cincinnati's Rush Offense vs. Syracuse's Rush Defense
We just got done singing the praises of the Bearcats running back Winn. So it should be clear that he is capable of taking a game over.
Syracuse cannot let this happen. They have to put the pressure on the struggling Legaux, and not let Cincinnati dictate the action by consistently churning out positive yards on the ground.
This is not going to be easy for the Orange. Their rush defense is far from dominant. They've allowed 1,180 rushing yards at 4.1 per carry and eight rushing touchdowns on the season.
Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Syracuse 20
That key matchup we just discussed? The Orange will not fare so well in that department. Their rush defense is soft, and Cincinnati will be running with a purpose as they try to right the ship.