Syracuse hosts Wake Forest in key game for both

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 04:56 AM

There's not much wiggle room left for the Syracuse Orange if they hope to again play in the postseason — and they're facing the most difficult part of their schedule.

At least the next game on Saturday against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3 ACC) is at home in the Carrier Dome.

After Saturday, Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) has road games against Maryland and No. 3 Florida State and finishes the season at home against Pittsburgh and Boston College.

The Demon Deacons sit in a little bit better place, needing just two victories to qualify for a bowl game.

___

There's not much wiggle room left for the Syracuse Orange if they hope to again play in the postseason — and they're facing the most difficult part of their schedule.

At least the next game on Saturday against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3 ACC) is at home in the Carrier Dome.

"It's huge. Our kids are excited to get back home in the Dome," rookie head coach Scott Shafer said. "We're just anxious to get out there. There's a lot of excitement and a lot of anticipation to get back on the field."

After Saturday, Syracuse (3-4, 1-2) has road games against Maryland and No. 3 Florida State and finishes the season at home against Pittsburgh and Boston College.

Just the thought of all that is probably more than enough to help forget about the last game — a 56-0 road loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago — and concentrate on getting three more wins to become bowl-eligible for the third time in four years.

"That's a tough loss," backup quarterback Drew Allen said. "I've definitely never been on the zero end of it and a lot of these players haven't, either. It hurts. It stings. Really, the way we've been dealing with it is a teaching point."

The Demon Deacons sit in a little bit better place, needing just two victories to qualify for a bowl game. They've won two of their last three, beating North Carolina State 28-13 and Maryland 34-10 at home before dropping a heartbreaker on the road to No. 7 Miami. Wake Forest led the unbeaten Hurricanes the entire game before giving up a late touchdown in a 24-21 loss a week ago.

"We've had three pretty good efforts in a row now," said Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe, who's tied with "Peahead" Walker for most victories at Wake Forest with 77. "You want to put (the loss to Miami) behind you, but only to a point. We did a lot of things right. You have to be a pretty good football team to beat Miami, so I think we're close."

Here are five things to watch between Wake Forest and Syracuse:

HUNT FOR SUCCESS: Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt is searching for the magic he had earlier in the season, when he led the Orange to seven TDs in seven drives to wrest the starting job from Allen. With the Orange fresh from a bye week, Hunt is ready to make amends for his poor performance against Georgia Tech (7 of 14 passing for 68 yards with an interception and lost fumble). "It was really a chance for me to fix (what went wrong), get that connection back with my receivers, get their confidence up, my confidence up," Hunt said of the extra week.

CATCHING EVERYTHING: Wake Forest wideout Michael Campanaro has a school-record 227 career receptions, which puts him third all-time in the ACC and just five catches behind second-place Aaron Kelly of Clemson (232 receptions from 2005-08). "He's been as productive as all get out," Shafer said. "He's really good at finding the windows. He's just got great anticipation for where those windows are going to be."

RUN TO SOMEWHERE: The Syracuse run game was supposed to be the team's forte, and it had been until the Georgia Tech game. The Orange rushed for 323 yards against then-No. 3 Clemson and 362 vs. N.C. State, then managed only 75 yards on 26 carries against the Yellow Jackets.

PRICE IS RIGHT ON: Wake Forest QB Tanner Price has accounted for 62 touchdowns in his career (51 passing, 10 rushing, 1 receiving). Riley Skinner holds the Wake Forest record with 65 TDs (60 passing, 4 rushing, 1 receiving). Price finished 25 of 45 passing for 301 yards and two TDs against Miami, the fifth 300-yard passing game of his career. "He has kind of stepped forward a little bit," Grobe said. "No matter how well he has played, we're going to press him to get better. We're hanging our hat on Tanner."

HOMETOWN HERO: After that shellacking at the hands of Georgia Tech, Syracuse needs the hometown faithful to come out in force. The fans will have a good reason to come out — former star QB Donovan McNabb will be in the Dome to be honored. His No. 5 jersey will elevated to the rafters.

___

AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in North Carolina contributed to this report.