The Syracuse University football team has squeaked its way to a 3-1 start to the season. The Orange, who have earned their three wins by an average of 5.6 points, look to improve on that record Saturday when they open up Big East Conference at the Carrier Dome against rival Rutgers University (2-1).
A victory would extend SU's winning streak over Rutgers to three games and help the Orange improve its record to 4-1 for the first time since 1999. However, it will not be easy as the Scarlet Knights are an improved team from last year.
Here's a quick look at the Orange's Week 4 opponent.
Opponent: Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Head Coach: Greg Schiano.
In the midst of his 11th season as the Scarlet Knights head coach, Schiano is the longest tenured coach in the conference. Schiano resurrected the RU football program and has led them to multiple bowl game appearances, which was very uncommon before Schiano took over.
Offense: Sophomore quarterback Chas Dodd is the Scarlet Knights starting quarterback. Dodd, who took over the reigns of the offense last season after starter Tom Savage played poorly, has been very efficient in Rutgers first three games. So far, Dodd has completed 57.3 percent of his passes and is averaging 196 passing yards per game.
However, the biggest offensive threat is junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who leads the nation in catches per game (12) and is coming off a collegiate-best effort of 16 catches, 176 recieving yards and two touchdowns in a 38-26 victory over Ohio University last Saturday. Sanu will be yet another play-making wide receiver that the SU secondary will need to stop. Dodd will also target junior wide receiver Mark Harrison, who last year burst onto the scene (829 receiving yards with nine TDs) but has had a slow start to the 2011 season.
RU's running game has been led by redshirt freshman Jawan Jamison, who has a team-best 46 carries and is averaging 75.5 yards per game. But, look for touted true freshman Savon Huggings (22 carries and three TDs) to carry the ball when the Scarlet Knights get into the red zone.
Defense: Three-year starter Scott Vallone (6-fot-3, 275-pounds) is the leader of RU's defense. The defensive tackle knows how to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage (Vallone is averaging more than one tackle for a loss per game) and pairs well with junior Justin Francis (6-4, 275). The duo has helped the Rutgers defense collect 12 sacks and allow just 68.3 rushing yards per game.
Conclusion: The Orange enter Saturday's contest as 1 1/2-point favorites. Considering SU's heath issues on defense this is a fair line. However, despite the depth issues this is a game that SU should win. Expect another thriller in the Dome on Saturday.
Who will pull out the victory in this Big East rivalry? SB Nation New York will be examining the Syracuse vs. Rutgers game from now until Saturday night. Check back to this StoryStream for all your pregame, in-game and post-game information.