Being curious about the Paulus-led Orangemen I wandered over to take a look at their stats from the game. These stats show us what the Orange want to do/can do as an offense. Lets take a look:
Paulus proved that he is capable of playing big time college football as he nearly led the Orange to a victory over a Big Ten opponent. Check out his line from the game:
He completed 19 of 31 passes (61.3%) for 167 yards with one TD and one (ultimately crushing) INT. Paulus can play, however, it is clear that the orange are going to focus on short, high percentage passes. The only real deep threat that 'cuse has is Mike Williams who averaged 13.4 yds/catch and caught Paulus' TD pass. This short passing game should work to help Syracuse avoid the pressure that PSU is sure to bring.
The Orange rushing attack is anemic as their leading rusher failed to break 100 yards on over 20 carries. Delone Carter was only able to gain 88 yards on 23 carries for a lowly 3.8 yds/carry. This yds/carry will be lower against a very talented Penn State defense and the Orange won't be able to run the ball effectively against PSU.
The Gophers were able to run the ball fairly effectively against the Orange getting over 100 yards on the ground and averaging 3.5 yds/rushing attempt. Minnesota somehow managed to win the game despite completing only 45% of their passes. How does that happen? Was this because Syracuse's passing defense was so good or just that Minnesota is struggling through the air?
The Orange will not be able to run the ball against PSU. The Orange weren't able to break 100 rushing yards against Minnesota, well, they won't be able to get 50 yards against Penn State. With the rushing game struggling, the Orange will have to lean even more heavily on Greg Paulus who will have to face a Penn State defense that is pinning its ears back and blitzing on every down. Here is the real key; Syracuse only converted 1 third down attempt (out of 12) for a terrible 8.33% conversion rate. Without being able to move the ball effectively on the ground the passing game will become a turnover machine leading to a big win for the Lions.
Go State! Beat the Orange!