Matthews: Syracuse vs Weak Wake Forest



At around this time for the past decade or so, Syracuse University students, alumni and the school’s legion of fans were tuning out the struggling football team and revving up for basketball season.

Not so this fall.

SU’s football team is 6-2 and ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press poll.  It’s the first time in 17 years that SU has cracked the top 25.

SU plays at Wake Forest Saturday at noon. The Demon Deacons, 4-4 this season, won 64-43 at SU last year and Saturday’s game figures to be another high-scoring affair. Here’s how the teams compare among the 129 NCAA FBS teams:

Scoring offense: SU 43.6 (7th in the nation)...WF 33.4 (38th)

Scoring defense: SU 28.6 (77th)...WF 36.8 t116h)

Total offense: SU 485.4 (14th)...WF 455.9 (29th). SU has better balance; WF loves to run

Passing offense: SU 289.0 (20th)...WF 223.6 (81st)

Rushing offense: SU 196.4 (40th)...WF 232.6 (18th)

Total defense: SU 432.0 (95th)...WF 502.6 I(125th). SU’s defense is below average; WF’s defense is fifth-worst in FBS.

SU opened as a 4 ½-point favorite and was up to a 6 ½-point favorite on Friday. The over/under (combined points by both teams) is 75 1/2.

Bob’s pick: SU 48, Wake Forest 37.

There are rumblings that other FBS schools will be interested in SU third-coach coach Dino Babers after this season.  That’s logical. He is one of the best offensive coaches in the business and he has made the Orange more competitive in the tough ACC. He is building an extremely entertaining team. Alumni and students are thinking SU football again.

Babers is 57 years old and one has to wonder if he’d be interested in taking another step up for a long-term deal with a raise in pay elsewhere.

It would be shame to lose him now. With expected improvement on defense, SU could become a very good FBS team. The Orange are pretty good right now.

SU would be wise to offer Babers a contract extension reasonably soon.


When this NFL season began, most hopeful Buffalo fans expected Sunday’s game against the visiting Chicago Bears to be a key victory on the way to another playoff berth.

But now the Bears – probably a slightly above-average team – are 10-point favorites over the Bills and deservedly so.

Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is talented but inconsistent. The Bills starting QB – again, scarier than a Halloween movie sequel -- is Nathan Peterman. He’s been consistently poor.

Chicago’s offense is much better than usual and Buffalo’s offense has been borderline inept.

The “Best Bet”:  Chicago 23, BUFFALO (+10) 7.

Sunday’s other games

(home team in CAPS)

Pittsburgh 23, BALTIMORE (-3) 20 – The Ravens won in Pittsburgh Week 4. The Steelers can rverse that outcome with a sharp effort.

Kansas City 35, CLEVELAND (+8 ½) 17 – The firing of coach Hue Jackson probably won’t hurt the Browns but that can’t offset Kansas City’s huge advantage in firepower.

Atlanta 28, WASHINGTON (-2 ½) 17 – The 5-2 Redskins probably have overachieved lately and the Falcons have the firepower to win going away.

MIAMI (-3) 27, New York Jets 18 – Miami has the1-2 RB punch in Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake to control the game and end a two-game losing streak.

CAROLINA (-g ½) 28, Tampa Bay 25 – The Panthers are 8-2 in the last 10 meetings but the Buccaneers with Ryan Fitzpatrick back at QB can keep this game close all the way.

MINNESOTA (-5) 24, Detroit 15 – The Vikings should bounce back from last week’s home loss to New Orleans and the Lions made a strange move trading top WR Golden Tate.

Houston 23, DENVER (-1) 17 – The Texans are on a five-game winning streak and playing with confidence. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is getting healthier by the week.

Los Angeles Chargers 28, SEATTLE (-2 ½) 20 – The Seahawks are tough at home but they don’t face many opponents as strong as the Chargers. The spot is a bonus.

Los Angeles Rams 38, NEW ORLEANS (-1 ½) 30 – The Rams can match the Saints in firepower and hasve the better defense.

NEW ENGLAND (-6) 38, Green Bay 27 – The Patriots appear to be rounding to top form right on schedule.  The quarterbacks might be a draw but Tom Brady has a better supporting cast than Aaron Rodgers.

Monday night’s game

DALLAS (--6 ½) 27, Tennessee 15 – The Cowboys are the biggest homers in the NFL. They’re 3-0 at AT&T Stadium by a combined 86-44 and 0-4 on the road.


The better the Buffalo Sabres perform and the healthier they stay, the less likely the American League affiliate Rochester Amerks will be tapped for reinforcements.

Rochester has had six AHL Calder Cup championships. For the record here’s how the Amerks and their parent clubs fared in those seasons:

1964-65 – Amerks 48-21-3 record; outscored opponents 310-199 (+111); beat Hershey 4-1 in the Calder Cup Finals. The Amerks were a veteran loaded team. Some observers said Rochester was better than the bottom two teams in the six-team NHL...The Toronto Maple Leafs were Rochester’s parent club. They also were a veteran team. They were 30-26-14 and outscored opponents 204-173 (+31) in the regular season and lost 4-2 to Montreal in the Stanley Cup semifinals.

1965-66 – Amerks 46-21-5 record; outscored opponents 288-221 (+67); beat Cleveland 4-2 in the Calder Cup Finals....Toronto was 34-25-11 and outscored opponents 208-187 (+21) in the regular season and lost 4-0 to Montreal in the Stanley Cups semifinals.

The 1966-67 Amerks were 38-25-7 and outscored opponents 300-223 (+77); lost 4-0 to Pittsburgh in the Calder Cup Finals and lost to Pittsburgh in the Calder Cup Finals. Toronto was 32-27-11 and was outscored by opponents 211-204 (-7) and beat Montreal 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals (the Leafs haven’t won the Cup since).

1967-68 Amerks 38-25-9 record; outscored opponents 273-233 (+40); beat Quebec 4-2 in the Calder Cup Finals...Toronto was 33-29-13 and outscored opponents 209-176 (+33) and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1958.

1982-83 Amerks 46-25-9 record; outscored opponents 389-325 (+64); beat Maine 4-0 in the Calder Cup Finals...NHL parent club Buffalo Sabres were 38-29-13 and outscored opponents 318-285 (+33) and lost in the Stanley Cup division finals 4-3 to Boston.

1986-87 Amerks 47-26-7 record; outscored opponents 315-263 (+52); beat Sherbrooke 4-3 in the Calder Cup Finals...Buffalo was 28-44-8 and outscored by opponents 280-308 (-28) and did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

1995-96 Amerks 37-34-5 record; outscored by opponents 297-294 (-3); beat Portland 4-3 in the Calder Cup Finals...Buffalo was 33-42-7 and outscored by opponents 262-247 (-15) and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.


If a proposed amendment receives at least 60 percent of the votes on election day November 6, the once-booming sport of greyhound racing in the state of Florida would be phased out by the end of 2020. The tracks could continue to operate as poker rooms. Florida has 11 of the 17 greyhound tracks remaining in America. Attendance and betting revenue have plunged as the work of anti-cruelty to animals groups has succeeded.

The revised Super Bowl 33 win probabilities courtesy of the trusty FiveThirtyEight ELO computer: Kansas City 18 percent...New England 6 percent...LA Rams 16 percent...New Orleans 13 percent...Pittsburgh 6 percent...Carolina 5 percent...Philadelphia 4 percent...LA Chargers 3 percent...Minnesota 3 percent...Seattle 3 percent,...Baltimore 2 percent...Washington 2 percent...all others 1% or lower.

Not surprisingly, the Golden State Warriors lead the NBA in scoring (125.0 points per game), field-goal percentage (.524) and three-point percentage (.418). The Warriors are 5th in 3-point FGs made (13.3) and 9th in 3-point field goals attempted (31.9) per game.


November 2

Jimmy Garoppolo 28...Masrcus Easley 31...Danny Amendola 33...Yunel Escobar 36...Roddy White 37...Matt Cullen 42...Sidney Ponson 42...Corbin Lacina 48...Sam Horn 55...Bruce Baumgartner 58...Adam Linger 58...Mark May 59...Willie McGee 60...Scott Boras 66...Larry Little 73...Michael Buffer 74...Dave Stockton 77. Stephanie Powers 74 is invited to the birthday party.

November 3

Colin Kaepernick 31...Kyle Seager 31...Ty Lawson 31...Tyler Hansbrough 33...Karlod Dansby 37...Damien Woody 41...Tamba Hall 45...Greg Townsend 57...Karch Kiraly 58...Phil Simms 63...Howard Ballard 65...Dwight Evans 67...Larry Holmes 69...Ken Holtzman 73.  Dolph Lundgren 61, Kate Capshaw 65, Dennis Miller 65 and Roseanne Barr 66 are invited to the birthday party.

November 4

Minkah Fitzpatrick 22...Dez Bryant 30...Brandon LaFell 32...Branden Albert 34...Dustin Brown 34...Devin Hester 36...Vince Wolfork 37...Larry Bigbie 41...Orlando Pace 43...Carlos Baerga 50...Eric Karros 51...Monte Coleman 61...Ron Springs 62. Matthew McConaughey 49, Sean Combs 49 and Laura Bush 72 are invited to the birthday party.


November 2

80 years ago (1938), Boston Red Sox first baseman Jimmie Foxx was voted Amerivan League Most Valuable Player for the third time...71 years ago (1947), Ben Hogan captained the United States to an 11-1 victory over Great Britain in the first post-WW II Ryder Cup...58 years ago (1960), New York Yankees teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle finished 1-2 for American League Most Valuable Player (225 to 222)...47 years ago (1971), Gordie Howe at age 41 scored his 19th and final NHL hat trick...46 years ago (1972), Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Steve Carlton, who had 27 of Philadelphia’s 57 victories for the season, unanimously won the National League Cy Young Award...10 years ago (2008), British McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton won his first World Formula 1 Drivers title...2 years ago (2016), the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game 7 for their first World Series championship in 108 years.

November 3

84 years ago (1934), Philadelphia A’s catcher Mickey Cochrane (.320, 2 HRs, 76 RBI) was voted American League Most Valuable Player over Triple Crown winner Lou Gehrig (.363, 49 HRs, 165 RBI...29 years ago (1989), Lou Piniella was named manager of the Cincinnati Reds, replacing Pete Rose, banned from baseball for gambling on games.

November 4

67 years ago (1951), playing-captain Sam Snead helped the United States beat Great Britain 9 ½ - 2 ½ in the Ryder Cup...59 years ago (1959), Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks won his second consecutive National League Most Valuable Player Award...31 years ago (1987), the NBA announced four new franchises, Charlotte and Miami for 1988, and Minneapolis and Orlando for 1989...9 years ago (2009), the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 in Game 6 to win their 27th World Series.

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