Syracuse Football 2012: Breaking News, Updates, Injury Reports And More

The Syracuse Orange lost their season opener to the Northwestern Wildcats, 42-41, Saturday at the Carrier Dome.

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Syracuse Vs. Stony Brook: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

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Syracuse Vs. USC Score: Trojans Lead Orange, 21-16, After 3rd Quarter

The non-conference contest between the Syracuse Orange and No. 2-ranked USC Trojans has reached the conclusion of the third quarter, and the Trojans lead the Orange, 21-16. USC (1-0) scored the quarters first TD, a four-yard reception by senior wide receiver James Woods, but Syracuse (0-1) answered with two of its own -- a three-yard TD reception by senior wide receiver Marcus Sales and a seven-yard run by sophomore Prince Tyson-Gulley -- to make the game a one-possession contest.

Sales' reception, which was setup by a bullet pass from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, capped a very quick six-play, 50-yard drive that took just 1 minute, 59 seconds to complete. It was setup by an interception by senior SU safety Shamarko Thomas, who picked off a long throw from USC senior quarterback Matt Barkley and was tackled at midfield.

The Orange will start the fourth quarter with the ball facing a 3rd-and-7 situation at their own 20-yard line.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC: Severe Weather Delays Start Of 2nd Half At MetLife Stadium

Severe weather moving in on MetLife Stadiym has delayed the start of the second half between the Syracuse Orange and No. 2-ranked USC Trojans. The delay began just as the second half was set to get underway with USC leading the Orange, 14-3.

About five minutes after the delay started, an official media announcement was made that the game would resume 30-45 minutes after the first rain fall. In East Rutherford, NJ, the rain began to fall at 5:36 p.m.

Since the start of the day, this was a concern as severe weather has threatened most of the Northeast. Initially, it was predicted the weather would arrive between 4-5 p.m., however, it arrived more at the tail end of that prediction.

Does the delay favor one team over the other? I would say it helps USC more than the Orange, who tacked on a field goal at the end of regulation and was schedule to receive the ball at the start of the half. This delay may stall that possible second-half momentum.

As for the weather forecast, the local AccuWeather radar shows that a big storm cell just moved north of the stadium and it could be just showers the rest of the night.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC Score: Trojans Lead Orange, 14-3, At Halftime

A pair of receiving touchdowns have helped the No. 2-ranked USC Trojans earn a 14-3 halftime lead over the Syracuse Orange in a non-conference contest at MetLife Stadium. Sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee and junior wide receiver Robert Woods both caught second-quarter TD catches from senior quarterback Matt Barkley, who tossed his last TD with 1 minutes, 15 seconds to go in the first half.

In the final minute of the second quarter, the Orange (0-1) were able to put together a 8-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by 37-yard field goal from junior Ross Krautman.

Overall, the Trojans (1-0) have out gained the Orange 230-129 in total yards. Barkley s 13-for-17 for 112 passing yards and two TDs, while senior running back Curtis McNeal has a game-high 58 rushing yards. USC has ran for a total of 108 yards on the ground.

As for Syracuse, they have marched inside Trojan territory on three drives but was only in position to collect points on one of them -- the last one.

A week after setting program records in passing yards, SU's senior quarterback Ryan Nassib is just 9-for-17 for 83 passing yards and one interception. Sophomore Jerome Smith leads the Orange in rushing with 28 yards, while receivers Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales and Beckett Wales all have two receptions.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC Score: Game Tied 0-0 After 1st Quarter

After one quarter of play at MetLife Stadium, the Syracuse Orange and No. 2-ranked USC Trojans are tied at 0-0. The Trojans (1-0) entered as 25 1/2-point favorites over the Orange (0-1).

Both Syracuse and USC had two possession march inside enemy territory, however, neither squad was able to come away with points. Hampering the Orange was not driving far enough into USC territory -- on their second possession, they could of settled for a 49-yard field goal but elected to punt.

Meanwhile, the Trojans could have kicked a field goal on their second possession but they're without their starting place kicker Andre Heidari. So, instead of challenging its sophomore walk-on Craig McMahon, they elected to go for it on fourth down. The attempt failed.

Syracuse will begin the second quarter with the ball on its own 14-yard line with a 1-and-10 situation.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC Odds And Prediction: Trojans Enter As 27-Point Favorites

Saturday's Week 2 contest between the Syracuse Orange football program and No. 2-ranked USC Trojans at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) will feature the Trojans entering as 27-point favorites according to Bovada.com. The betting line almost doubles 2011's 15-point spread -- the Trojans covered as they defeated Syracuse, 38-17, at the LA. Coliseum.

The Orange (0-1) are coming off a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to the visiting Northwestern Wildcats, while the Trojans (1-0) easily defeated the visiting Hawaii Warriors, 49-10, last week.

Earlier this week, USC opened as a 25 1/2-point favorite and the over-under was set at 58 points. Saturday morning the over-under at Bovada was 65 points -- for those good at math, that's a jump of more than a touchdown.

Predictions

The Orange have a very tall task ahead, as they will try all they can to not be embarrassed in this nationally televised event that is being used not only as a revenue builder for the program but also as a recruiting tool.

If SU gets crushed by USC, all the good vibe that was built off the season-opener -- which is being viewed as a "good" loss -- would be diminished. However, if the Orange can hang with the Trojans and be in the game heading into the fourth quarter, this game will be looked at as another solid stepping stone under head coach Doug Marrone.

Meanwhile, USC is expected to use all its offensive fire power to get after SU's developing defense early. It would not be a surprise if the Trojans attack the Orange's progressing, but still not stellar, secondary with the pass and pound the ball in the end zone with the run.

The difference from this game becoming a blowout or a possible nail-biter will be turnovers or a big special teams play -- which could be effected by the weather. In all big upsets, there's a few big plays that turn the tides on the favorite and SU will need a few of them.

In the end, I see Syracuse keeping the score closer than it did last season, but not having enough to make people notice the effort.

Final score: USC 30, Syracuse 20.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ Weather Forecast

Saturday's New York's College Classic between the Syracuse Orange football program and the USC Trojans will be played in windy, cloudy and possibly stormy conditions, the weather forecast for East Rutherford, NJ is predicting. According to WeatherUnderground.com, the day's forecast, especially in the later afternoon -- kickoff time is at 3:30 p.m. ET -- features a 60-percent chance of perception, wind between 10-20 m.p.h. but temperatures near the low 80s.

As of 9 a.m., the local radar shows no rain or storms on the radar near East Rutherford, however, there's a front moving across Pennsylvania. Luckily, it looks like its moving northeast, a direction that may miss the tri-state area.

I am writing this post near downtown Brooklyn, and the weather here is muggy, breezy and very overcast. Seems that for most of the day there's going to be a chance for a pop-up shower or possibly thunderstorm for the NYC/NJ area, but doesn't look like a complete wash for those SU/USC tailgaters.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC Injury Report: Alec Lemon Still Questionable, Trojans Dealing With Minor Injuries

Syracuse Orange senior wide receiver Alec Lemon will remaining listed as questionable heading into Saturday's non-conference game against the No. 2-ranked USC Trojans at MetLife Stadium. SU head coach Doug Marrone reiterated Wednesday Lemon's playing status which has stayed the same ever since preseason camp ended.

"I am not trying to hide it," said Marrone Wednesday. "I just really don't know yet."

The Orange, again, will enter a big game with a wait-and-see approach regarding Lemon's lower-body injury that he suffered in preseason camp. Last season, Lemon set a program record with 68 receptions and entered this season as quarterback Ryan Nassib's presumed No. 1 target.

In Lemon's absence last Saturday, in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats, senior wide receiver Marcus Sales caught a team-high 12 passes for 129 receiving yards, while Nassib set a school record with 482 passing yards.

Making his 2012-13 debut Saturday will be redshirt senior tight end David Stevens, who missed the season-opener with a minor leg injury. Earlier in the week, Marrone admitted that Stevens could have played Saturday but was held out for precautionary reasons.

Meanwhile, left tackle Justin Pugh, a 2011 All-Big East Conference First Team selection, wide receiver Adrian Flemming and transfer defensive end John Raymon will not play, according to Marrone. Pugh is recovering from shoulder surgery, Flemming is rehabbing from a high-ankle sprain and Raymon is still waiting for eligibility clearance regarding his academic transcripts.

"We are still working together with the NCAA, so we haven't had any final decision on that yet," said Marrone. "I don't know when that will end or when we will get that final decision."

As for the Trojans, they are dealing with a few minor injuries to redshirt junior cornerback Torian Harris, sophomore linebacker Lamar Dawson, redshirt sophomore Dion Bailey and place kicker Andre Heidari. For Saturday, all four are expected to play.

On the Trojans' depth chart, Harris is listed as the backup to starter sophomore Anthony Brown, Dawson is USC's starting middle linebacker, Bailey is the starting strong-side linebacker while Heidari is the starting place kicker.

During last week's 49-10 victory over the Hawaii Warriors, Bailey was seen supporting his right foot on crutches. Updates, however, said Bailey's crutches were just precautionary.

One Trojan with starting experience that will not see the field Saturday will be sophomore running back D.J. Morgan, who's out 3-4 weeks after undergoing minor knee surgery earlier in the week.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Vs. USC: WR Alec Lemon Questionable For Week 2

The Syracuse Orange football program could be without two of its top wide receivers, senior Alec Lemon and junior Adrian Flemming, Saturday when it faces top-ranked USC Trojans in the New York's College Classic (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) at MetLife Stadium.

When asked Monday about Lemon's playing status for the non-conference showdown, SU head coach Doug Marron said, "I don't know." Marrone was a bit more sure of Flemming's status as he said the 6-foot-3 wide out probably will not play. Both players missed Saturday's season opener against the Northwestern Wildcats, who earned a thrilling 42-41 victory.

Despite the possible loss of Lemon, SU's leading receiver last season, and Flemming, Marrone said redshirt tight end David Stevens should play against USC after he also missed Saturday's contest.

Without having these three offensive weapon in Week 1, SU was still able to total over 600 yards of offense, 482 through the air, against the Wildcats. But those yards probably will not come as easy against a more talented and experienced USC defense.

For complete coverage of New York's College Classic featuring Syracuse vs. USC, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. For in-depth coverage of the Orange visit Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, while Conquest Chronicles is all about the Trojans.

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Syracuse Football Vs. Northwestern: Big Plays Cost Orange Season-Opening Victory

Despite crawling all the way back from a 22-point deficit Saturday, the Syracuse Orange suffered a heart-breaking, season-opening loss to the visiting Northwestern Wildcats, 42-41, at the Carrier Dome. The Wildcats game-winning score came on a nine-yard reception by wide receiver Demetrius Fields from sophomore quarterback Trevor Siemian with 44 seconds remaining.

It was a roller-coaster contest that featured a thrilling finish after four lead changes, a record-setting performance from Syracuse senior quarterback Ryan Nassib (44-for-65 for 470 passing yards and one touchdown) and a brilliant all-around game from Northwestern running back Venric Mark (284 total yards of offense, two touchdowns including a stunning 82-yard punt return).

In the end, it came down to big plays, check that, four HUGE plays from the Wildcats that turned the tides.

  1. After Syracuse tallied field goals on its first two possessions of the game and was finally stopped on its third, Mark ran back a punt 82 yards for the Wildcats first touchdown. At the time, Syracuse had all the momentum as both the offense and defense was clicking.
  2. The second-quarter interception by Ariguzo, who snagged a tipped ball from Syracuse senior wide receiver Marcus Sales out of the air and ran it back 49 yards to the SU 21-yard line. A play later, Mark caught a touchdown reception from Colter that gave Northwestern a 13-7 lead. Syracuse had advanced the ball into NU territory in four of its first five possessions.
  3. The dropped pass by Syracuse running back Jerome Smith that turned into a fumble, which was picked up and ran back 33 yards for a touchdown by Northwestern sophomore linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo. After the extra point, Syracuse trailed 28-14.
  4. Daniels eventual game-winning catch that came after a personal foul penalty on SU cornerback Keon Lyn, who shoved Siemian after he ran out of bounds, extended the drive.

Statically, Syracuse dominated Northwestern and here's the proof:

  • Syracuse out gained its opponents 596 to 337 in total yards.
  • The Orange ran 95 plays, while the Wildcats ran 75.
  • Syracuse averaged 6.3 yards per play, while Northwestern tallied 4.7.
  • The Orange had six red-zone possessions, while the Wildcats had 3.
  • SU's defense collected five sacks, while NU got to Nassib just once.

However, stats mean nothing if you can't make enough or prevent enough big plays, and that's what the Wildcats did Saturday in their seventh straight season-opening victory under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Other notes taking away from Syracuse's loss...

Decisions, decisions

Apparently, Fitzgerlad was forced to make a decision before his team's final game-winning drive.

That decision was to either send out a banged-up Kain Colter, who started the game, or a cold but fresh Trevor Siemian. In the end, Colter was too banged up to go on the final drive and Fitzgerald, who obviously made the right call -- Siemian went 6-for-7 on the march -- decided on the sophomore.

Did Siemian flop?

On the Wildcats' game-winning drive, Syracuse' Lyn was called for a personal foul on Northwestern quarterback Siemian, who ran toward the sideline and was shoved by the corner back after he crossed the out-of-bounds line. When Siemian was shoved he fell to the ground which, more than likely, drew the flag.

Looking at the replay, it didn't look as if Lyn shoved Siemian hard enough for him to fall. So, in the post-game the sophomore was asked if he flopped when Lyn hit him to draw the flag.

Where was Ashton Broyld?

For those curious, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone admitted during his post-game press conference that the plan was to use the freshman slash-back more than the Orange did -- Broyld was involved in just four plays, all of them passing.

"I think it's more circumstantial," said Marrone. "It's not what we talked about as a staff going into the game. We're trying to get out there and go. Northwestern made a little bit of a change and kind of hurt the one package that we felt we were going to go in there with him. That's exactly how it happened.'

Conclusion: Look for Broyld to be used more in the future.

Alec Lemon, Adrian Flemming could be back next week

There was no official word on Lemon or Flemming after the game, but Marrone did make it sound like both should be good to go when the Orange face the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans next Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC) at MetLife Stadium

"We are looking forward to getting Alec Lemon and Adrian Flemming back."

Quote of the day

"I was proud of the way they fought back," said Marrone, "I fortunately haven't been part of teams that have been down 20 something points and didn't' fight back. Does anybody in this room expect us not to fight back? I don't think any of you guys expect us not to fight back because you've seen it before in this team. It's a credit to this community. That's why those kids fight out there. They fight for themselves. They fight for the community. They fight for the University. They fight for the alumni. They fight for everyone else. When this football team, doesn't fight, it's a problem. Right now, they'll fight. They believe in what they're doing."

For more on Syracuse Vs. Northwestern, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has everything a fan could want on the Orange.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern Final Score: Wildcats Defeat Orange, 42-41

A nine-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Demetrius Fields from sophomore quarterback Trevor Siemian with 44 seconds remaining in the game helped the Northwestern Wildcats earn a crazy, season-opening victory, 42-41, over the Syracuse Orange in a non-conference contest at the Carrier Dome.

Fields' game-winning score capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 1:56, and answered a go-ahead TD from the Orange who clawed all the way back from a 35-13 deficit.

The Wildcats, who improve to 7-0 in season openers under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, were fueled by a unbelievable, all-around performance from junior running back Venric Mark, who compiled 284 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns, including an electrifying 82-yard punt return in the second quarter.

Siemian, who came in off the bench after starting quarterback Kain Colter left because of an injury and stayed off the field because of a coaches decision, finished the game 8-of-11 with 78 passing yards.

In the loss, Syracuse spoiled a record-setting performance from senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. The third-year starter set new program marks in completions (44), attempts (64) and passing yards (470).

For more on Syracuse Vs. Northwestern, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has everything a fan could want on the Orange.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern Score: Wildcats Lead Orange, 35-27, Entering 4th Quarter

A pair of third-quarter touchdowns from both the Northwestern Wildcats and Syracuse Orange has helped this Big East/Big Ten Conference showdown enter the fourth quarter with the Wildcats ahead 35-27.

Northwestern scored the first two TDs of the third quarter to take a commanding 35-13 lead. But SU answered with two in the final 7 minutes, 43 seconds, the last being a 50-yard reception by sophomore wide out Jeremiah Kobena from quarterback Ryan Nassib, to trim the deficit to eight points.

Senior wide receiver Marcus Sales scored the first of the two TDs for SU, as he caught a seven-yard pass from Nassib with 2:21 to play and helped cut the lead to 35-20.

Arugiuzzo tallied the quarter's first TD when he picked up a fumble from Syracuse running back Jerome Smith, who dropped a backward pass from Nassib, and ran 33 yards into the end zone.

On the next Northwestern possession, junior quarterback Kain Colter scored from one-yard out, capping a 8-play, 78-yard drive that gave the Wildcats their largest lead (22 points) with 7:34 to play.

For more on Syracuse Vs. Northwestern, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has everything a fan could want on the Orange.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern Score: Wildcats Take 21-13 Lead Over Orange Into Halftime

Four humongous plays, three of them from junior tailback Venric Mark, has helped the visiting Northwestern Wildcats take a 21-13 lead over the Syracuse Orange in Big East/Big Ten Conference showdown that has reached halftime.

The go-ahead score was a 21-yard touchdown reception by Mark from junior quarterback Kain Colter that turned a 13-7 NU deficit into a 1-point lead with 6 minutes, 53 seconds to go in the half. The score was setup by a huge interception by sophomore linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo, who snagged a deflected ball, caused by a tip from SU wide receiver Marcus Sales, out of the air and returned it 49 yards to the Orange 21-yard line. Mark scored a play later.

The final touchdown of the half came on a 14-yard crossing pass from Colter to wide out Christian Jones, who capped a small four-play, 28-yard drive that was setup by a 52-yard punt return by Mark.

Mark has also returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, which came with :23 to go and capped the first quarter scoring at 7-6 in favor of the Wildcats.

The lead, however, was short lived as Syracuse orchestrated a beautiful 14-play, 82-yard touchdown dive that was capped by a 14-yard rush by sophomore running back Prince Tyson-Gulley.

For the most part, Syracuse has out played Northwestern as it out gained its foe 221 to 169 in total yards. However, after scoring on three of its first four possessions of the game, Syracuse has tallied no points in its last four -- which have included two turnovers.

Syracuse's six other points came from junior place kicker Ross Krautman, who connected from 22 and 33 yards, respectively.

Krautman's first field goal capped a five-play, 26-yard drive by SU, which was setup by a muffed punt by Northwestern that gave the ball to Syracuse at its own 31-yard line.

On its ensuing possession,Syracuse marched 61 yards in nine plays to setup Krautman's second try from 33.

Syracuse will start the second half with the ball.

For more on Syracuse Vs. Northwestern, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has everything a fan could want on the Orange.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern: Final Notes, Injury Reports And Betting Odds

Good (late) morning everyone. I am currently setup and ready to go here at the Carrier Dome's press row where I'll witness the Syracuse Orange football program open up its 123rd season against the Northwestern Wildcats (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

Already, a few newsworthy things have come up as Syracuse senior wide receiver Alec Lemon will not play, as he's still recovering from a lower body injury. Lemon was out on the field for pregame warm ups and seemed fine, but must be not fine enough.

Also out: Syracuse punt returner Steve Rene (injury) and defensive end transfer John Raymon, who's still waiting to be cleared to play by the NCAA. Good news, tight end David Stevens will play.

It's very muggy inside the Dome today, as Weather.com says its 78-degrees with 62-percent humidity. Most of the time, inside domed stadiums the weather outside doesn't matter because there's air conditioning or, at least, some sort of climate control inside. But not at the Carrier Dome.

When I sat in my seat at press row today, I was dripping in sweat. I can't imagine how the player will feel by the second half of this game.

The final betting line on the game, according to Oddsharks.com, will favor the Wildcats who will enter as 1 1/2 point favorites.

For more on Syracuse Vs. Northwestern, check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has everything a fan could want on the Orange.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern Preview: Game Time, TV Schedule, Streaming And More

The Syracuse Orange football program opens its 2012-13 season Saturday, as it host the Northwestern Wildcats in a non-conference contest at the Carrier Dome (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The Big East/Big Ten Conference showdown is the third meeting in the last five seasons between the two programs.

All-time, Syracuse is 78-40-4 in season openers including a last year's 36-29 victory over Wake Forrest. However, against Big Ten opponents the Orange are 1-6-1. Under head coach Doug Marrone, SU is 2-1 in Week 1 contests.

The Wildcats are led by head coach Pat Fitzgearld, who's entering his seventh season. Last season, the purple and white finished the season 6-7 with a loss in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

[Rutgers Faces Tulane | Remaining Big East Schedule]

Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY.

Game Time: 12 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN2

Announcers: Beth Mownins (play-by-play), Joey Galloway (color commentary), Jenn Browns (sidelines).

For more on Syracuse football, visit the SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Meanwhile, Sippin' On Purple has the most complete coverage of the Northwestern football.

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern: Alec Lemon, David Stevens Questionable For Opener

The Syracuse Orange football program could be without senior wide receiver Alec Lemon and redshirt senior David Stevens for Saturday's home opener against the Northwestern Wildcats, coach Doug Marrone told the media Thursday. Marrone said both player will be listed as questionable heading into the non-conference showdown at the Carrier Dome (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

Lemon, SU's leading wide receiver last season, has been dealing with a nagging leg injury that has kept him in and out of preseason practice, while Stevens is dealing with a lower-body injury. If both are unable to go, quarterback Ryan Nassib will be down two big targets.

Also, as expected left tackle Justin Pugh will not play against the purple and while. Pugh is trying to heal from a shoulder injury that happened before preseason camp.

For more on Syracuse football, visit the SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Meanwhile, Sippin' On Purple has the most complete coverage of the Northwestern football

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern: Getting To Know The Wildcats

The Syracuse Orange football program opens its season Saturday (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2) against the visiting Northwestern Wildcats at the Carrier Dome. The Wildcats, led by head coach and alum Pat Fitzgerald, are coming off a 6-7 season that ended with a 33-22 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and enter this season as a sleeper candidate to win the Big Ten Conference's Legends Division.

For those Orange fans curious to know more about the purple and white, here's a brief scouting report:

Offense

Junior Kain Colter is the starting quarterback and field general of the Wildcats' spread offense. The dual-threat signal caller took over as leader of the Wildcats' offense for the final three games of last season after Dan Persa ruptured his right Achilies tendon in Nov.

"Kain handled the opportunity really well a year ago," admits Fitzgerald.

"Last year, you could defiantly tell it was really his first start in college football, and now he's defiantly settled down, he's settled into the role. And I think what speaks volumes is he was elected as captain by his teammates. That doesn't happen by accident."

Because of last year's experience, Colter (6-foot, 190 pounds), who helped Northwestern finish second in the Big Ten in offensive production, will enter Saturday's game as the main offensive weapon that SU needs to contain. And that will be a tough task, as Colter is capable of beating defenses not only with his arm -- 673 pass yards and six touchdowns in '11 -- but with his legs -- 654 rushing yards (in his three starts at quarterback, Colter averaged 79-rushing yards per game).

"We've faced a lot of (dual-threat quarterbacks) in the past and each one of them are a bit different," said head coach Doug Marrone. "Kain has outstanding speed, he can get outside the pocket. He's been an outstanding wide receiver for Northwestern, so we need to be careful of where he is in the pocket and our rush lane and know what we're doing. We need to make sure we can contain him because if he gets outside the pocket he has shown he can make people miss in the open field."

Colter will have a lot of options to throw to, as returners Tony Jones (6-foot, 185 pounds), Rashad Lawrence (6-foot-2, 185), Demetrius Fields (6-foot, 210), who has a team-high 31 career starts, provided size and speed on the outside, while former USC Trojans' five-star recruit Kyle Prater (6-foot-5, 225), who transferred to Northwestern without a one-year waiting period, gives the Wildcats' exceptional depth at the position.

In the backfield, junior Venric Mark (5-foot-8, 180) and junior Mike Trumpy (6-foot-1, 210) will get most of the carries, but look for Northwestern to rely on the legs of Colter more than Mark or Trumpy.

On special teams, Orange punter Jonathan Fisher will need to make sure punt and kick returner Mark doesn't get open space. If he does, look out.

Defense

For the Wildcats to be a factor in the Big Ten, the defense will need to be the unit that steps up. On paper, Northwestern's biggest weakness is its secondary, which graduated three starters and features a returning sophomore, safety Ibraheim Campbell, as its anchor.

On the outsides, senior cornerback Demetrius Dugar (5'11, 180), who started two games last season, and redshirt freshman Nick VanHoose (6-foot. 185) will start, and try to hold down Syracuse wide outs Alec Lemon (6-foot-2, 205) and Marcus Sales (6-foot, 195).

In the past, the secondary fell victim to a weak pass rush from the defensive line. That issue stemmed from the lack of talent upfront, but the assumed progression of senior Quentin Williams (6-4, 255) and junior Tyler Scott (6-foot-4, 265) is expected to fix that.

Also, look for aggressive play-calling from defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who admitted he'd attack more this season.

The linebacking crops is anchored by senior outside linebacker David Nwabuisi (6-foot-1, 240), who led the team with 84 tackles last season.

Overall Outlook

Like the Orange, the Wildcats will enter hungry for a season-opening victory -- wins in the Big Ten are few and far between. But Northwestern's recent history against the Orange (1-5 in the last six meetings) isn't good and is even worse at the Carrier Dome (0-3).

To change that around, NU will need attack Syracuse's defense using Colter's arm and feet, something Wildcats fans can expect will be done with consistency, and hope its defense can stop Syracuse's offense -- which scored 36 points in last year's season-opening victory against Wake Forrest.

For more on Syracuse football, visit the SB Nation blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Meanwhile, Sippin' On Purple has the most complete coverage of the Northwestern football

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Syracuse Vs. Northwestern: Justin Pugh To Miss Season Opener -- Report

The Syracuse Orange football program will be without arguably its best player, senior left tackle Justin Pugh, for Saturday's season opener against the Northwestern Wildcats, a source told the Syracuse Post-Standard's Dave Rahme on Monday.

Pugh’s appointment today with renowned shoulder specialist St. James Andrews went very well but that the opener was simply too close to Pugh’s surgery date to take a chance.

The good news is, the source said the recovery of the Big East Conference First-Team selection is going well and now he will be able to "amp" up his rehab work. There still is no timetable for the 6'5, 298-pound lineman's return, but it maybe shorter than the month-long absence that was originally reported.

In his place will be junior Sean Hickey (6'5, 285), who's had a very good training camp.

"The thing (in camp) that shocked me the most it was probably the way Sean Hickey has been playing," Marrone said Saturday. "He has had in the last two years – and that’s fall and spring – 12 practices coming from the major injury he’s had, and he’s had quite a few injuries, and I really feel good about him being injury-free going into this and the way he’s been playing."

For more on the Syracuse vs. Northwestern match-up check back to this SB Nation New York StoryStream. Meanwhile, the blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician is all about the Orange.

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