More so than even UC I have no idea what to make of this particular Syracuse team. No clue at all. Teams aren't supposed to make these sort of leaps from one year to the next, particularly in College Football. Where it always takes time for teams to mature and where winning isn't an innate characteristic of individual players, but instead is something that is slowly inculcated over time. Programs, generally, don't make great leaps forward. They might have individual moments that transcend their current status and explode in the consciousness of fans. But they don't flip the switch automatically. But that appears to be what Syracuse is doing this year. They are a very physical team, and a sound and solid group on both sides of the ball. But it seems like this run of there's is built entirely upon their ability to generate turnovers on defense. That's a great way to play, if you can get the turnovers, but it isn't the soundest way to sustain winning.
Regardless this is going to be a challenging game for UC, with Zach Collaros or without. Because of Syracuse's defense and because UC absolutely has to put points on the board to win ball games because the defense right now is held together with spit, duct tape and general shit. I don't know that I have mentioned this yet but there is just one backup at most of the defensive positions right now. Chris Williams backs up both safety spots, Deven Drane is the backup at both corner spots, Rob Trigg is the only DE getting sustained action in a reserve role and Jordan Stepp is the only DT getting double digit snaps as a reserve. Then there is linebacker where there are no back ups. None. Walter Stewart, J.K. Schaffer and Maalik Bomar play every meaningful snap in the 4-3. Stewart gets occasional breaks when they go to a nickle package and he isn't playing as a DE. But other than that those guys are on the field for the entire game. There is a tendency to bitch and moan about the defense, I am certainly no exception, but it is hard to play at a high level when everyone on your starting defense plays on at least 80 per cent of snaps. All you can really ask of them is to hold on, which they have done. Hopefully they can hold on long enough for the offense to put 30+ on the board. If it is a low scoring affair I don't see how UC can win that.