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September 7, 2013
Should Northwestern play to its potential, the Wildcats will have no problem taking care of business.
The 0-1 Orange will look to rebound this week behind QB Drew Allen, but the Wildcats have other plans in store. Can Trevor Siemian and the Cats follow up an impressive performance against Cal with a win against Syracuse?
WildcatReport's staff isn't afraid to give you the answers to the tough questions.
Northwestern wins if... it can make Drew Allen's day a nightmare. Allen struggled against Penn State, and the Wildcats should look to make that happen again. If Dean Lowry can tip a few passes and Tyler Scott can pick up another sack or two, 'Cuse will be forced to rely on its ground attack.
Northwestern loses if... the Wildcats can't get off the field on third down. This team struggled against Cal in the third quarter to push the Bears' offense off the field, and the same issue can't happen this week. The lower the score, the better chance 'Cuse has to pull out a win.
The bottom line... This one might finally be drama-free. Syracuse simply doesn't have a strong enough passing game to keep itself in this one, and Northwestern will steadily pull away.
Prediction Northwestern 31 Syracuse 17
Northwestern loses if... real injuries continue to take their tole. Guys like Treyvon Green showed the Cats may have more depth than originally thought, but they can't afford much more.
The bottom line... Colter returns and gives NU a glimpse of their full potential. The Wildcats establish a lead early though and he and Venric Mark do not have to over exert themselves in coming off injuries. On to Western Michigan.
Prediction: Northwestern 42 Syracuse 21
Northwestern wins if... the Cats find a rhythm in the passing game. Who knows how well Colter plays this soon after a concussion.
Northwestern loses if... they give up too many big plays. They gave up quite a few against Cal, but they got stops when it counted.
The bottom line: if the season openers for both teams weren't a fluke, NU should definitely win this. Even with some injuries, they still have to tools to comfortably do so.
Prediction Northwestern 38 Syracuse 16
Northwestern wins if it stays balanced on offense and the pass defense rebounds from a shaky game at Cal and doesn't allow too many big plays.
Northwestern loses if it lets Syracuse establish a ground game with its two talented running backs and lose the turnover battle.
The bottom line... Syracuse can pose problems with its balanced offensive attack, but Northwestern's run defense was terrific against Cal last week and should be able to make the Orange one-dimensional. If the Wildcats do that, they will be in good shape.
Prediction: Northwestern 34 Syracuse 24
Northwestern wins if... it controls the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively.
Northwestern loses if... the offense has too many three-and-outs and the defense doesn't put pressure on the quarterback.
The bottom line... Most teams show the biggest improvement in Week 2. Experience should pay dividends for the Wildcats while the Orange is still adjusting to a new coach.
Prediction Northwestern 34 Syracuse 17