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College Football Washington at Syracuse

August 31, 2007

College Football - Washington Huskies (-3.5, 45) at Syracuse Orangemen 8:00 PM EST

Washington is picked to finish eight or ninth in a potent Pac-10 conference. Syracuse is thought to once again occupy the basement in the Big East.

Talent wise both teams are improving, just not at the pace needed to make an impact in respective leagues. With each having many difficult games ahead, this is one both have a real chance to win and start season on a positive note.

Washington almost assuredly would have gone to a bowl game last season until veteran signal caller Ian Stanback suffered season ending injury.

That would have been quite a turnaround for then second year coach Tyrone Willingham, who must now build around an inexperienced but highly regarded quarterback Jake Locker.

The Huskies have some big dogs in the offensive line that can move folks around, averaging about 325 pounds per man. The beneficiaries should be backs Louis Rankin and J.R. Hasty, trying to move the chains.

If the offense sputters, the defense is uncertain to be able to bail them out with too many question marks in the back seven. Playing arguably the toughest schedule of any team in the country in the first five games makes the task of competing no less more manageable.

Washington arrives in Syracuse 3-14-1 ATS in last 18 non-conferences tilts.

To say Syracuse has had problems putting up points is like saying Britney Spears has hit a career speed bump. The Orangemen are just one of six teams to finish 100th or worse in scoring two consecutive seasons.

Sophomore quarterback Andrew Robinson will be given the keys to start-up coach Greg Robinson’s West Coast offense. He’ll have experienced wide receivers like Mike Williams and Taj Smith going up a porous Huskies secondary.

In front of Robinson are three returning linemen, with senior Carroll Madison possible All Big East material. Defensively things could be a challenge with only four returning starters, with Jameel McClain, the conference’s leading sacker (9.5) from last season back.

If the Orangemen defense doesn’t do better against the run (185.1 YPG) then last year, they won’t stand a chance here or any place else.

This figures to be a highly competitive contest with each team having a chance to win. Washington is a 3.5-point road favorite as seen at sportsbook.com, with the total having risen two points to 45.

Perception is the Huskies have better overall talent, yet are 9-24-2 ATS when favored in recent years. Syracuse comes in with 18-2-2 ATS record in non-conference games at the Carrier Dome.

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