Northwestern (-3.0) 21 SYRACUSE 20
Syracuse has been a bit worse than expected offensively in their first two games, as their decent rush attack is being dragged down by Greg Paulus and his 4.4 yards per pass play. Paulus has actually been better than that after adjusting for strength of opposing defenses faced (Minnesota is better than average in pass defense and Penn State is very good), but the Orange rate at 0.4 yppl worse than average.
The Syracuse defense, however, has been very good so far in limiting a better than average Minnesota attack to just 4.9 yards per play and then holding a very good Penn State offense to 4.8 yppl. Neither team was able to run against the Orange, who have yielded just 3.4 yards per rushing play, and I don't expect Northwestern bad rushing attack (just 4.2 yprp against two bad run defenses) to do any damage on the ground unless quarterback Mike Kafka decided to start running the ball like he should be.
Kafka is yet another example of a great running quarterback deciding he wants to prove he has become a pocket passer rather than scaring the crap out of defensive coordinators by being both.
At least Kafka has been successful in the pocket so far this year with 66% completions and a 7.6 yards per pass play average (although versus two bad defensive teams).
My ratings favor Northwestern by just 1 point in this game and I'll lean with the suddenly defensively solid Orange plus the points.
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