The Virginia Cavaliers (2-1) travel north to face the Syracuse Orange (3-0) on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 ET. Here we’ll continue our College Football odds series with a Virginia-Syracuse prediction and pick.
Virginia is 2-1 heading into Week 3, having narrowly pulled out a victory against Old Dominion last week. In their lone loss, Virginia was defeated handily in a road game against Illinois. In Week 1, Virginia took care of in-state rival Richmond 34-17. This will be Virginia’s 2nd game against a Power 5 conference opponent and their first ACC game of the season.
For Syracuse, the Orange are undefeated thus far thanks to a last-second win over Purdue in Week 3. Syracuse had decisive victories over Lousiville and Connecticut in the first two weeks. This will be Syracuse’s third home game of the season at the Carrier Dome.
Here are the Virginia-Syracuse College Football odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Virginia-Syracuse Odds
Virginia Cavaliers: +9.5 (-110)
Syracuse Orange: -9.5 (-110)
Over: 53.5 (-115)
Under: 53.5 (-105)
Why Virginia Could Cover The Spread
Virginia faced a lot of questions heading into this season under new coach Tony Elliot. After three weeks, the long-time Clemson coordinator hasn’t done much to answer them. The Cavaliers struggled mightily in their Week 2 loss to Illinois – a team that won just 5 games last season. Then, they followed it up by barely squeaking by Group of 5 opponent Old Dominion thanks to a last-second field goal.
The Cavaliers’ defense is a middle-of-the-road unit with a bend-don’t-break mentality. They currently rank 57th in FBS in yards allowed but have yet to face a truly potent offense. Virginia is led by senior linebacker Nick Jackson. Jackson is projected to be a middle-round pick in next year’s NFL draft and has shown his worth this season. Jackson leads the team with 31 tackles so far and led the ACC with 117 in 2021. Outside of Jackson, the Cavs are still searching for playmakers. With just 1 interception on the year, Virginia’s defense isn’t doing themselves any favors in the turnover margin.
Virginia is a balanced offensive team led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong. The senior had a strong 2021 season that saw him throw for nearly 4,500 yards and complete 65% of his passes but has been shaky in 2022. Armstrong has completed just 52% of his passes through three weeks and has major turnover issues. In last week’s last-second win, Armstrong lost two fumbles. On the season he’s thrown 3 interceptions compared to just 2 touchdowns.
Perhaps most concerning has to be his proficiency on third down. The Cavaliers have a paltry 33% conversion rate on third down – highlighted by a 1-16 showing in the loss to Illinois. Armstrong has shown the ability to be an above-average quarterback in the past but will need his offensive line to give him time to make decisions. The Cavs have allowed 8 sacks this season. His play will largely determine how we make our Virginia-Syracuse prediction.
Why Syracuse Could Cover The Spread
Syracuse is off to their best start since 2018 after last week’s victory over Purdue. The Orange scored 22 4th quarter points in the win – capped off by a game-winning touchdown with seven seconds remaining. With quality victories over Louisville and Purdue, Syracuse has had one of the stronger starts in the ACC.
The Orange offense is led by preseason Heisman sleeper Sean Tucker. The junior had an incredible 2021 campaign, running for nearly 1,500 yards to the tune of 6.1 yards per carry. Tucker is coming off perhaps the worst game of his career, however, as Purdue stifled the speedster early and often. After rushing for over 100 yards in each of the first two weeks, Tucker amassed just 42 yards against the Boilermakers. Expect the Syracuse offense to make Tucker a point of emphasis against a vulnerable Cavalier rush defense.
Junior quarterback Garrett Shrader has had a red-hot start for the Orange. In three games, Shrader has thrown for 709 yards and has a shining 8-0 TD:INT ratio. Shrader’s best attribute, though, maybe his rushing prowess. The dual-threat QB has already run for 201 yards in 2022. He entered the end zone three times as a rusher. In last week’s dramatic victory, Shrader showed off his scrambling in a big way. Shrader finished with 83 rushing yards and an electric scamper on a crucial 2-point conversion. His step forward this season has taken a major load off workhorse running back Sean Tucker.
Defensively, the Cuse have a dangerous front seven but are vulnerable through the air. Linebacker Mikel Jones leads an experienced group with his team-high 2 sacks. The Orange allow just under 100 yards a game rushing so much of their damage is taken through the passing game. Their secondary can be taken advantage of, but make up for it with their playmaking. Syracuse has forced 3 interceptions and 3 fumbles through three weeks – including a critical pick-six in the fourth quarter of last week’s win.
Final Virginia-Syracuse Prediction & Pick
Syracuse is the better team and the line reflects that. However, I think the Orange are undervalued. In a home matchup against a struggling Virginia squad, Syracuse should be double-digit favorites. Jump all over that 9.5.
Final Virginia-Syracuse Prediction & Pick: Syracuse Orange -9.5 (-110)