After heart-thumping wins in each of the last two weeks, Syracuse wouldn’t mind a more relaxing victory Saturday when FCS foe Wagner comes to town.
The Orange are trying to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1987. They trounced Louisville and UConn in their first two games before slipping past Purdue in the final seconds and then getting by Virginia 22-20 in the waning minutes last Friday.
Looking forward, this could be a “trap game” for the Orange, as they face ranked opponents in five of their next six games. The only matchup in that stretch against a non-ranked foe comes against Notre Dame, which was ranked as high as No. 5 earlier in the season.
“This game is, to me, a tricky game for us. Our team has to really stay locked in,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers said.
He especially wants his team to focus on cleaning up its offensive execution. The Orange were thrilled to win against the Cavaliers despite committing four turnovers.
“We’re really fortunate to come out with the win. We’re excited about that,” Babers said after defeating Virginia. “The play was not perfect, that’s for sure. But the record is.”
The Seahawks’ record, meanwhile, is far from perfect. Wagner has lost its first three games by a combined 96 points. They have scored a total of 14 points in their last two games and are coming off a 27-7 loss to St. Francis (Pa.).
But the Seahawks are coming off a bye week, so coach Tom Masella is hoping the extra rest gives his team an advantage.
“I thought we had a good week of practice last week,” Masella said on the Wagner College TD Club Coaches Show. “We got some young kids some reps, but we had to get better fundamentally, and I thought our kids had a good week last week.”
The Orange, on the other hand, are averaging 33.3 points per game behind quarterback Garrett Shrader (eight touchdowns, one interception) and wideout Oronde Gadsden II (19 catches, 300 yards, three TDs).
That said, Syracuse already has lost four starters to season-ending injuries, so their depth could be challenged as the season moves along.
“We’re averaging losing a starter per game,” Babers said. “Backups who are now starters have done a really, really good job based off the people we’re playing, but starting with this week, if we’re gonna continue losing one a game, I don’t know how that’s gonna look. I don’t know how that crystal ball looks in the end.”