Ryan Nassib and the Orange will take on Southern Cal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on September 8. Photo Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Know the Opponent: Syracuse Orange

The Pac-12 will see the next team on our list at the home of the defending Super Bowl champs (and little brother Jets) at MetLife Stadium. Syracuse and Southern California will meet at New York’s College Classic in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 8 at 1:30 pm on ABC.

In Doug Marrone’s first season the team made the Pinstripe Bowl playing Kansas State at Yankee Stadium. Last season the Orange went 5-7 and 1-6 in the Big East with their biggest win coming against West Virginia 49-23 at the Carrier Dome.

Ryan Nassib who is listed as a graduate likely will get the first crack at the starting quarterback position this season. In 2011 he threw for 2,685 with 22 TD to just nine interceptions with a 62.4 completion percentage and he scampered in for two rushing scores.

Syracuse will be looking to replace its 1,000 yard rusher from last season with junior Jerome Smith getting a chance. Smith had 134 yards with a touchdown on just 37 carries, he was one of 11 who got carries last season.

Senior WR Alec Lemon who was the leading receiver last year with 834 and was second with six TD’s. He had a 12.3 average per catch on 68 catches playing in all 12-games. Redshirt senior tight end David Stevens is another returner who had 167 yards with a touchdown.

On defense listed graduate student linebacker Dan Vaughan who had 72 tackles in 2011 40 solo and 32 assisted with a sack looks to lead the defense. Senior strong safety Shamarko Thomas third last year in tackles with 67 (47 solo, 20 assisted) leads the backend of the D. Junior linebacker Marquis Spruill returns he had 62 tackles with 43 solo/19 assisted had three sacks and recovered two fumbles.

Another guy to keep an eye on is sophomore Dyshawn Davis who had 43 tackles, he was second on the team with four sacks.

I think this team can return to a bowl game this season having returned enough talent from last year’s team that just missed out on a bowl game. They have an impressive non-conference schedule with Northwestern, Southern Cal, Stony Brook, at Minnesota and at Missouri which might make things a little tougher. They will host Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Louisville during the conference season which  will give them an advantage.

2012 Syracuse Orange Schedule –

Northwestern 9/1
v. Southern California (MetLife Stadium/East Rutherford, N.J.) 9/8
Stony Brook 9/15
@Minnesota 9/22
Pittsburgh 10/5
@Rutgers 10/13
Connecticut 10/19
@South Florida 10/27
@Cincinnati 11/3
Louisville 11/10
@Missouri 11/17
@Temple 11/23

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July 2 – Nicholls Colonels (32)
July 6 – Northern Colorado (31)
July 12 – UNLV (30)
July 13 – Duke (29)
July 16 – Colorado State (28)
July 18 – Sacramento State (27)
July 20 – Fresno State (26)
July 23 – Rice (25)
July 25 – San Jose State (24)

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