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Previewing Syracuse taking on South Florida in the Boca Bowl

The 2023 edition of the takes place on December 21 and sees the 6-6 Syracuse Orange locking horns with the 6-6 Bulls from USF. In an intriguing battle between the ACC and the American Athletic Conference, the game will be meaningful for the Orange as they turn the page from head coach Dino Baber's era. It will also mark the first bowl game for USF since 2018 and a big turnaround for a program that went 3-21 in the two seasons before his arrival. But who has the advantage for the game? Let's take a look and preview the Boca Bowl.

Quarterback - Garrett Shrader v Byrum Brown. Shrader brings experience as a multi-year starter and senior for the Orange. With Brown, the redshirt freshman has shown no fear in throwing for over 3,000 yards on the season and being responsible for 34 total touchdowns. Both have similar completion percentages however Shrader has a slight edge throwing six interceptions to Brown's 11 on the season. Both quarterbacks have solid arms and can make good throws to all areas of the field. Advantage - Bulls. There is something to be said for quarterbacks that can put the team on their shoulders and doing so as a redshirt freshman is impressive. Brown is a threat on the ground to make or extend plays, rushed for 745 yards and 11 scores for the season, compared to 469 yards for Shrader is the difference maker here.

Running back - LeQuint Allen v Nay'Quan Wright. With Allen, the Orange boasts a 1,000-yard rusher who was a main weapon in the offense as he accounted for 10 total scores and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. In Allen, the Orange has a power runner that shows comfort in running between the tackles. He also shows good football instincts in knowing when to run to the outside. With Wright, the leading rusher for the Bulls, coach Golesh and his staff have a vital cog in the offense that averaged 4.5 yards a carry and seven scores on the season. Wright is a compact runner who can contribute on the ground as well as in the passing game. He has the speed to separate from defenders and can run through tackle attempts. Advantage - Orange. Allen has been a do-it-all all workhorse for the Orange this season as the team's leading rusher as well as contributing in the passing game.

Defense - This will be the biggest question to be answered. Both the Orange and the Bulls have struggled to stop their opponents. a +21 point difference compared to a -49 point difference for the Bulls. Marlowe Wax leads the defense for Syracuse with 99 tackles on the year adding four sacks (also team lead). He's shown the sideline-to-sideline coverage ability that scouts like to see. He also shows a solid ability to cover and cause turnovers with his physical play. For the Bulls, Jhalyn Shuler has been the leader. Similarly to Wax, he has been a tackling machine accounting for 85 tackles and two sacks on the season. He covers the ground quickly and finishes his tackles strong. Advantage - Syracuse. While neither defense has been good, the Orange have held their opponents to fewer points on the season. Also, the supporting cast around Wax benefits the Orange.

Prediction - Orange wins by two scores. With the game on a neutral site, the Orange has a slight edge being a three-point favorite. The veteran leadership of Shrader on the offense and a weapon the caliber of Allen in the backfield will be too much for the Bulls. The Orange ended the season on a positive with a win while the Bulls still finished with a positive and a big turnaround from previous seasons.


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