This weekend, the Syracuse football team has a chance to get to 4-0 for the first time since 1991 after a dominating performance against Florida State. And with UConn – a team that’s allowed more than 2,000 yards in its first three games – coming to town, it certainly seems like that fourth straight win is likely.
And it certainly seems that the oddsmakers think that a Syracuse win is a near-certainty. It feels a little weird after so many years of struggles to not just be a favorite, but a big favorite, but I’ll certainly take it. Just how favored is Syracuse? Obviously, the line can change, but according to mytopsportsbooks.com, the Orange will open in the range of -25 over the Huskies.
That’s pretty incredible, especially given some of the concerns that Syracuse faces heading into the weekend. Most notably, Eric Dungey’s health. While Dino Babers has said that he expects Dungey to be ready to play, I’m not as bullish on the health status of Syracuse’s star quarterback. And frankly, if he’s even a little below 100%, this feels like the perfect opportunity to get him some extra rest and recuperation.
After all, Tommy DeVito played well against Florida State. The redshirt freshman completed 11-of-16 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for a score in the first extended action of his career. He showed off the arm talent that he was known for even before setting foot on campus, with both zip and accuracy on his throws. It’s easy to see why Babers was so high on him coming out of high school, and how he so seamlessly fits into what Dino wants to do offensively.
Giving DeVito his first career start this weekend, while resting up Dungey, feels like the smart move. UConn, if you couldn’t guess by the line, is far from a world-beater. If there was ever a game to get DeVito some in-game experience, it’s this one. The more playing time DeVito gets, the more he’ll be able to adjust to the speed of the college game and work through his rookie mistakes. And if Dungey is out for an extended period, it’s better to get DeVito’s feet fully wet this weekend instead of next, when the Orange head south to take on Clemson.
It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation plays out on Saturday not just for Dungey and DeVito, but also potentially a third quarterback. Babers knows what he’s got in Rex Culpepper, and given the new NCAA rule that allows true freshmen to play in up to four games without burning their redshirt, Saturday could be an opportunity to get Chance Amie on the field.
Here’s the way I see it: if Dungey’s health continues to be a question mark, then obviously the ball goes to DeVito. But then you’re only one hit away from having to go to another QB, and at that point you’re choosing from between the moderately experienced but limited Culpepper and the totally inexperienced but highly talented Amie. The freshman from Texas generated a lot of buzz in fall camp, with word leaking out that he may have the highest ceiling of any quarterback on the roster. Obviously, you’d like to stagger him and DeVito so that they’re not part of the same class, but if worst comes to worst, Amie seems like he might wind up being Syracuse’s best bet for success should a third quarterback be needed.
So if Syracuse goes up by four or five touchdowns in the second half on Saturday, it’ll be interesting to see who Babers turns to for mop up duty. Will it be Culpepper, who no doubt would get one hell of an ovation after his battle with cancer? Or would Dino take the opportunity to get Amie some reps against live competition?