Saturday's season-opening contest between the Syracuse Orange football program and visiting Northwestern Wildcats will not feature a betting favorite, as oddmakers have placed a even line on the non-conference showdown at the Carrier Dome (12 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Northwestern opened as a 1-point favorite.
The Orange are coming off a 5-7 season that featured a five-game losing streak to end the year, while the Wildcats finished 6-7 but did earn a bowl berth after finishing the regular season at 6-6.
All-time, Syracuse owns a 5-4 record in the Big East/Big Ten Conference match-up. The Orange have won five of the last six showdowns including the last meeting, a 37-34 victory in 2009. Northwestern is 0-3 all-time at the Carrier Dome.
For the Orange to have a chance of making the postseason they will need to earn a victory in this equally-matched game. The issue for Syracuse will be containing Northwestern junior quarterback Kain Colter, who probably will be the most dynamic, dual-threat signal caller it will see all season.
If The Orange can do that -- its experienced linebacking corps which features five possible starters, should -- and find the end zone as much as they did in last season's Week 1 victory, 36-29, against Wake Forrest -- on paper, the Northwestern defense has a lot of flaws -- they will have a good chance of pleasing the home crowd Saturday.
However, a lot could go wrong for SU, as the offense will be missing left tackle Justin Pugh and could be without senior wide out Alec Lemon and tight end David Stevens. Add the possibility that its defense could get shredded by Colter's legs, and the Orange are in for a nice test in Week 1.
Final score: Syracuse 34, Northwestern 31.