Syracuse (4-4) at Maryland (5-3) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Byrd Stadium (51,802) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ACC Regional Sports Network. Home Record: Syracuse 3-2, Maryland 4-1. Away Record: Syracuse 1-2, Maryland 1-2. Neutral Record: Syracuse 0-0, Maryland 0-0. Conference Record: Syracuse 2-2, Maryland 1-3. Series Record: Syracuse leads, 18-14-2.
GAME NOTES: The Syracuse Orange will make their first voyage to College Park since 1991 for an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup with the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium.
Syracuse bounced back from a 56-0 shutout loss at Georgia Tech last week by holding Wake Forest scoreless, defeating the Demon Deacons, 13-0, at the Carrier Dome. The Orange are now owners of a .500 record at 4-4, which includes their 2-2 mark versus ACC foes. Coach Scott Shafer will need two more victories to make his squad bowl eligible to potentially extend his first season at the helm of the program, which makes this matchup very important with only three games remaining, including a difficult road test at Florida State next week.
Maryland had an open week after a 13-point loss to Clemson ended its October slate. The team had won all four of its home games before falling to the Tigers. The Terrapins will be looking to snap a two-game losing slide with a win over Syracuse, which would make them bowl eligible after three seasons without a postseason appearance. Coach Randy Edsall, who graduated from Syracuse in 1980, enters the contest with an 11-21 record as he nears the conclusion of his third season with the program.
The Orange have won their last four bouts versus Maryland to take an 18-14-2 all-time series lead. The rivalry has been idle since the 1994 season.
Syracuse's offense has been dismal in league play with an average of just 12.8 points per game. The Orange abandoned their two-quarterback system for their bout against Wake Forest last week as Terrel Hunt stayed under center from start to finish. While the dominant defensive performance powered the win, Hunt did a solid job managing the offense, hitting on 18-of-30 pass attempts for 144 yards to go along with 36 yards and a score on the ground. Although Hunt ended his three-game streak with at least one interception, he still has failed to produce a passing touchdown over his past four games. Brisly Estime will be try to build upon his strong showing versus the Demon Deacons that yielded nine receptions for 62 yards and his first career touchdown catch. The freshman wideout had reeled in only eight passes all season. Jarrod West is the top big play threat on the squad with 300 yards on 15 catches.
Syracuse has amassed just over 50 percent of its total yardage this season with its rushing attack. Jerome Smith has compiled team-highs of 587 yards and eight touchdowns on 116 carries, while Prince-Tyson Gulley has been a solid second option with 437 yards on 77 carries. Gulley and Hunt have registered four rushing touchdowns apiece.
After allowing Georgia Tech's triple-option attack to tally 394 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, Orange's defense looked like a completely different squad last week as it held Wake Forest to only 25 rushing yards on 1.3 yards per carry. Syracuse's inconsistent play on the defensive side of the ball has led to an allowance of 25.4 ppg, which has is tied for eighth in the ACC in scoring defense. Senior defensive tackle Jay Bromley has registered 11 tackles for loss, eight sacks and three forced fumbles as to stand out as the defense's top impact player.
The Terrapins' offensive production has also declined in conference play. After posting just under 40 ppg versus non-league foes, Maryland has been held to just 16 ppg in ACC play. Edsall's team was outgained, 551-364, by Clemson in its last outing. The team was forced to start backups at every skill position as starting quarterback C.J. Brown, tight end Dave Stinebaugh, running back Brandon Ross, and wide receivers Deon Long and Stefon Diggs were all out with injuries.
While starting under center in place of the injured Brown, Caleb Rowe amassed 287 yards and a career-high three TDs. Rowe was also picked off twice after throwing just one interception through his first six games. Levern Jacobs made his mark with eight catches for 158 yards highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown reception. Rowe has now completed a touchdown pass to Jacobs for over 50 yards in two straight outings. Albert Reid contributed 70 yards on 15 carries, while filling in for Ross. Rowe and Reid could both be in the starting lineup against due to Brown and Ross both being listed as questionable to return.
Maryland's defense has digressed since holding its first four opponents to a combined total of 41 points. Clemson scorched the Terps for 40 points in their last outing. The defense still walked away from the contest with some positive results as it registered four sacks and three takeaways. Linebacker Cole Farrand turned in one of the most impressive performances in school history and set an ACC single-game high for this season with 23 total tackles. As a result, Farrand is leading the Terps with 67 tackles. Marcus Whitfield had a productive outing also with two TFL, a forced fumble and a quarterback takedown. The senior linebacker now has 7.5 sacks on the campaign, which is tied for third most in the ACC.
Maryland's bye week could not have come at a better time as it needed a break to overcome the injuries that have plagued the offense. Although the Terps have been very tough at Byrd Stadium so far, they will be in trouble if they come out of their break with too much rust. Syracuse's offense should be able to produce better results against Maryland's defensive unit, which has been nothing short of atrocious in league play. The Orange's defense was relentless in their last appearance, which should give them plenty of momentum entering this must win contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Syracuse 24, Maryland 21Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 9, 3:30 p.m. (et)