SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS) – Top 20 teams collide in the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday when No. 18 Syracuse hosts No. 15 NC State. The Orange look to stay undefeated and start the season 6-0 for just the third time since 1935.
“This is 15 rounds. Heavyweight,” said head coach Dino Babers of the matchup with a physical and experienced NC State squad. “There’s going to be some slugging. There’ll be some shots. You’re going to get hit hard and how you handle that is going to affect the game. That’s for everyone that’s out there on the football field. It’ll be a physical contest.”
The Orange and Wolfpack are two of the four ACC Atlantic Division teams in the top-20 of the AP Poll this week, with the outcome of Saturday’s game likely to have major division implications in the conference.
Saturday’s game will feature the top two defenses in the ACC. Syracuse is allowing 271.6 yards per game, which ranks 10th in the nation, while NC State is giving up 297.8 yards per game, which ranks 17th nationally. Both teams have been particularly tough on opponents’ running game. The Orange give up an average of 95.0 yards on the ground, while the Wolfpack is allowing 113.0.
While both defenses are atop the conference, each squad is also averaging more than 30 points per game, setting up a battle of complete teams.
“One thing that I will be telling the team this week – and I have told them – is that you are playing a football team this is not a bunch of individuals and they are also playing a football team not a bunch of individuals,” Babers said. “It’s going to be a fantastic test.”
In addition to the excitement of a top-20 matchup on the field, Syracuse will honor three Orange legends during a halftime ceremony as Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little are officially inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor. They were three of the five members of the initial Ring of Honor class, which was established in 2020. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the unveiling ceremony was postponed.
“Obviously this is going to be a very important football game for us,” Babers said. “We understand all the things that are going to be going on with it. One thing that I would like to mention though is this will be our Ring of Honor game and coming back and thanking guys in the past that did amazing things. Ernie Davis, the first African American Heisman Trophy winner, along with Jim Brown, the greatest of all time and a dear, dear friend that passed away, Floyd Little, who I owe a lot to and it’s going to be great to see all three of them recognized with family members in the Dome and hopefully it will be an exciting game for fans.”
Brown, Davis and Little are just part of the rich history of Syracuse football. A win on Saturday would add to it as the Orange would become bowl eligible for the first time since 2018.