Oct 17, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA;  Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) after a reception in the first half during a game against Liberty on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
 Mandatory Credit: Dennis Nett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse WR Taj Harris entering transfer portal

Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris is entering the transfer portal.

The junior made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday and Orange coach Dino Babers confirmed it Monday.

An All-ACC third-team selection in 2020, Harris has two years of eligibility remaining.

Harris did not travel with the team for Saturday’s 33-30 loss at Florida State.

He caught 16 passes for 171 yards in three games this season, raising his career totals to 151 receptions for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns since 2018.

Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC) hosts No. 19 Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday afternoon.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) leaps over the line of scrimmage to score a touchdown against the Liberty Flames in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Szmyt boots last-second FG to lift Syracuse past Liberty

Andre Szmyt kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Syracuse to a dramatic 24-21 victory over visiting Liberty on Friday night.

The Orange (3-1) needed Szmyt’s game-winner after blowing a pair of 14-point leads and the kick was set up by a terrific defensive sequence when Liberty appeared to have the momentum.

With 3:35 remaining at the Liberty 37, Flames quarterback Malik Willis was flushed out of the pocket. Syracuse lineman Cody Roscoe chopped the ball out and the fumble was recovered by linebacker Mikel Jones at the Liberty 30.

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker gained 168 yards on a career-high 31 carries and also had a touchdown. Tucker also finished with 195 yards of total offense as Syracuse totaled 225 yards on the ground.

Garrett Shrader made his first start for Syracuse and completed 6-of-15 passes for 77 yards and also had a pair of TD runs.

Willis was 14 of 19 for 205 yards and three TDs but also was sacked six times. Willis also rushed for 50 yards on 16 attempts as the Flames (3-1) lost for only the second time in its past 17 games.

Shrader’s 1-yard leap over the middle with 13:40 remaining in the second quarter capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive to give the Orange a 7-0 lead. Tucker’s 27-yard run down the left side opened a 14-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter.

The Liberty got within 14-7 when Willis connected with Shedro Louis for a 7-yard TD with 93 seconds remaining but Syracuse opened a 21-7 lead with 9:46 remaining in the third when Shrader faked a handoff and rushed up the middle for a 10-yard score.

Liberty finally got a drive going and was within 21-14 on a 23-yard TD by CJ Daniels, who just stayed in bounds with 2:57 remaining.

The Flames tied it at 21-all 29 seconds into the fourth when Willis connected with DeMario Douglas for a 33-yard strike. Liberty nearly took its first lead but Douglas’ 4-yard TD was overturned via replay and Syracuse’s defense stuffed Willis on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball in front of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) on his way to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker, Syracuse aim to solve Liberty defense

Sean Tucker produced a terrific performance for Syracuse on the ground and in the passing lanes, but the second-year running back and the rest of the Orange are about to encounter a step up in the opposing defense.

The Orange lost at home last year to Liberty and hope to figure out a way to solve one of the most effective defenses in the FBS on Friday night when the teams square off in Syracuse.

Syracuse (2-1) owns wins over Ohio and FCS foe Albany sandwiched around a 17-7 loss to Rutgers. Tucker heads into Friday with 367 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to go along with seven catches and 148 yards and a TD.

Five of those TDs occurred Saturday when Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany. Tucker is up to 993 career rushing yards in his first 12 games and last week he totaled 253 total yards (121 receiving, 132 rushing), becoming the first player to rush for at least 100 yards and have 100 receiving yards in school history.

“It was just seeing a lot of my O-line blocking,” Tucker said. “They were blocking hard all game and giving me opportunities to get to the second level and just run by everyone.”

Tucker gained 111 yards last season when Liberty beat Syracuse 38-21, and this time he encounters a defense that is eighth nationally in yards allowed per game (234), 12th in points allowed (12.3 per game) and 10th in rushing yards per game (53.5).

Liberty (3-0) sandwiched a pair of routs around a 21-13 win at Troy and is led by Malik Willis, who threw for four touchdowns and completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and rushed nine times for 77 yards in Saturday’s 45-17 win over Old Dominion.

“To this point this year, probably so (that it was his best game so far this season),” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said. “He took two sacks that he should have thrown the ball away on. Other than that, I thought he was pretty dang good.”

So far this year, Willis has totaled 838 yards of offense (613 passing/225 rushing) and 11 TDs (seven passing/four rushing). In last year’s win over Syracuse, Willis completed 16 of 20 passes for 182 yards and also rushed 12 times for 58 yards.

The Flames are 13-1 in their past 14 games and 21-6 since a 24-0 loss to Syracuse in their 2019 season opener.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball past the tackle attempt of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker scores five TDs as Syracuse smokes Albany

Sean Tucker scored a career-high five touchdowns and totaled a career-best 253 yards of offense as host Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany on Saturday afternoon to remain unbeaten against FCS opponents.

Tucker had three catches for 121 yards and gained 132 yards on 13 carries. He caught a 72-yard TD and rushed for his other four TDs, including a career-long 56-yard score.

The Orange (2-1) bounced back from a 17-7 loss to Rutgers last week and improved to 19-0 against FCS teams.

Syracuse held a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes in, led 21-10 after the opening quarter and built a 45-10 lead by halftime against the Great Danes (0-3).

Tucker scored on runs of 8 and 56 yards in the first quarter. The sophomore running back caught a 72-yard TD in the second and added a 12-yard TD before halftime.

Tucker got his final touchdown when he raced in from 26 yards out less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito started the game before being replaced by Garrett Shrader. DeVito completed 6 of 9 passes for 147 yards while Shrader was 11-for-15 for 190 yards.

The Orange played without leading receiver Taj Harris due to an undisclosed injury and saw nine players catch a pass on a day in which they totaled 623 yards of offense.

Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler completed 7 of 13 passes for 69 yards and was sacked five times before being replaced by Joey Carino, who had a touchdown pass and a touchdown run. The Danes finished with 135 yards of offense

Tucker opened the scoring with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter and then rumbled for 56 yards to make it 14-0 nearly 3 1/2 minutes later. After Albany scored on a 37-field goal by Dylan Burns and 20-yard interception return by defensive back Christian Lewis, the Orange scored the game’s next 48 points.

Alford’s 73-yard catch made it 21-10 with 2:07 left in the first quarter and Andre Szmyt booted a 48-yard field goal early in the second.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse visits Ohio

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ohio averaged 216.7 yards rushing per game and RB De’Montre Tuggle led the way with 7.6 yards per carry, 134.3 per game, and accounted for seven scores. Stopping the run will be a primary concern for the Orange, who gave up 32.7 points and 209.2 rushing yards per game last season.

“They remind me of old Nebraska without the option,” Babers said. “They understand the scheme. There is no hesitation when they’re going somewhere. It’s old-school football. I can appreciate that.”

Syracuse was a miserable 1-10 last fall and Babers has had back-to-back losing seasons heading into his sixth with the program. DeVito (593 passing yards, four TDs) and Shrader will work behind an offensive line returning seven players with starting experience.

Syracuse is a slight favorite coming in and is 2-0 all-time against Ohio, but the two teams haven’t played since 1921. The Bobcats haven’t knocked off an ACC opponent since 2005, when they topped visiting Pitt in overtime in Solich’s first home game at OU.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) runs as Syracuse Orange wide receiver Sharod Johnson (8) pursues in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Book (5 TDs) fuels No. 2 Notre Dame in rout of Syracuse

Ian Book recorded five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) to help No. 2 Notre Dame pull away for a 45-21 win over visiting Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

Book completed 24 of 37 passes for 285 yards. Wide receiver Javon McKinley caught all three of his touchdown throws to highlight his seven-catch, 111-yard performance.

Notre Dame (10-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) completed a perfect regular season and will head to the ACC championship game scheduled for Dec. 19.

Rex Culpepper completed 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Orange. Syracuse (1-10, 1-9) lost its eighth game in a row and gave up 30-plus points for the seventh time during that skid.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season following his 20-carry, 110-yard performance.

The Fighting Irish got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-3 early in the second quarter following an 18-yard touchdown pass from Culpepper to Anthony Queeley. The play capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive to give Syracuse brief hope for an upset.

Notre Dame regrouped late in the first half, reeling off three touchdowns in the final 3:18 to build a 24-7 advantage.

Book started the scoring binge with a 28-yard rushing touchdown. He dropped back in the pocket and scanned the field before deciding to keep the ball for a sprint down the right sideline and plunging across the goal line.

The Fighting Irish signal-caller followed his rushing touchdown with a pair of passing scores to McKinley. The two connected for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:30 left in the first half and a 28-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining.

Syracuse struck first after halftime on a 40-yard touchdown run by Sean Tucker to trim the deficit to 24-14.

Notre Dame answered with a 21-0 run to seize a 45-14 lead.

Book kept the ball again for a 17-yard rushing score with 6:32 to go in the third quarter. He then found McKinley for a third time — this one for a 26-yard score — with 1:07 remaining in the frame.

Chris Tyree punctuated Notre Dame’s high-scoring day with a 94-yard rushing touchdown with 6:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

Syracuse capped the scoring with an 80-yard touchdown from Cooper Lutz with 5:33 to go.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) with the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Kyler McMichael (1) and linebacker Chazz Surratt (21) defend in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Notre Dame can’t overlook slumping Syracuse

No. 2 Notre Dame will look to remain unbeaten when it hosts Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish already have clinched a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by virtue of a scheduling change this week. Notre Dame (9-0, 8-0 ACC) likely will face No. 3 Clemson (8-1, 7-1) in the Dec. 19 game.

A huge showdown on the horizon could lead the Fighting Irish to overlook this weekend’s matchup against Syracuse (1-9, 1-8), which sits at the bottom of the conference standings. But the Fighting Irish have proved so far that they can avoid letdowns, with seven of their nine victories coming by double digits.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams said he never would have expected a ticket to the ACC title game.

“It’s crazy,” said Williams, whose team joined the ACC as a full-time member this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the independent school to search for a conference partner. “You come to Notre Dame, and you don’t think that you are going to play in any conference games. But now look, we are in the conference championship for the first time in Notre Dame history and the first time ever in my career.

“This is a goal we as a team have been preaching on since we joined the ACC, that we were going to come in here and we were going to compete for an ACC championship no matter what it was. So I feel like now that we are at that goal — or not yet, because we’ve still got Syracuse — we see that goal in the future that we just can’t forget.

“We can’t forget that we’ve still got to keep working to get to that goal. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

Williams leads the Fighting Irish with 901 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through nine games. Running backs Chris Tyree (350 yards, 2 TDs) and C’Bo Flemister (293 yards, 5 TDs) also contribute to a dominant ground game.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is a dual threat who could challenge Syracuse’s defense. Book has thrown for 2,097 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception, and he has rushed for 412 yards and six touchdowns.

Wideout Ben Skowronek has five touchdown catches for the Fighting Irish, while tight end Michael Mayer and wide receiver Avery Davis have two touchdown catches apiece.

Syracuse has dropped seven games in a row, including a 36-29 defeat last week against North Carolina State. The Orange have allowed 30-plus points in six of the past seven games.

Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper will try to move on from an embarrassing gaffe a week ago in which he spiked the ball on fourth-and-goal with five seconds remaining.

“One mistake didn’t win or lose a game,” Orange coach Dino Babers said in defense of his quarterback. “There were other mistakes made during that game, and people need to realize that.”

On the season, Culpepper has thrown for 843 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Running back Sean Tucker leads the Orange with 525 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The top option in the passing game is wide receiver Taj Harris, who has 50 catches for 664 yards and five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Micale Cunningham (3) looks to pass against the Syracuse Orange during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville shuts down Syracuse, rolls to 30-0 rout

Malik Cunningham threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lift host Louisville to a convincing 30-0 victory over Syracuse on Friday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

Cunningham completed 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions for the Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC), who controlled the contest despite committing three turnovers in the first half.

Despite its miscues, Louisville finished with a pronounced edge in total yards (413-137), first downs (26-7) and time of possession (41 1/2 of the game’s 60 minutes).

The Cardinals’ Braden Smith recorded team highs in catches (seven) and receiving yards (65) and Tutu Atwell had a touchdown grab to send Syracuse (1-8, 1-7) to its sixth consecutive loss.

Freshman Jalen Mitchell rushed for a touchdown in the first game since fellow Louisville running back Javian Hawkins announced that he was opting out of the remainder of the season in preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. Hawkins had ranked third in the ACC with 822 yards rushing.

Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards with an interception before sustaining an apparent head/neck injury in the third quarter. Morgan was hurt while being sacked by Yasir Abdullah.

James Turner converted field-goal attempts from a career-long 50 and 40 yards out to stake Louisville to an early 6-0 lead.

The Cardinals forced a turnover on the kickoff following the second field goal, with Ean Pfeifer recovering a fumble after Marlon Character stripped the ball from Nykeim Johnson. Mitchell capped a six-play, 31-yard drive by rushing up the middle from 2 yards out for his first career touchdown.

Cunningham scooted into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next possession to push Louisville’s advantage to 20-0 just before halftime. Cunningham’s rushing touchdown was his sixth of the season and the 17th of his career.

Cunningham completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Atwell midway into the third quarter. Atwell’s touchdown reception was the 20th of his career.

Turner added a 33-yard field goal to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) attempts to avoid the sack by Virginia Cavaliers linebacker Nick Jackson (6) in the first quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville eager to cut down on turnovers vs. Syracuse

Louisville hasn’t been shy about shooting itself in the foot this season.

The turnover-prone Cardinals (2-6, 1-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) will look to limit their miscues on Friday night when they host Syracuse (1-7, 1-6).

Louisville held a 478-368 advantage in total yards last Saturday, but three costly turnovers led to its undoing in a 31-17 loss at Virginia. The Cardinals have 18 turnovers on the season.

“That was obviously the big difference in the (Cavaliers) game when you go back and watch it, but there’s a lot of plays that were good on both sides of the ball and we have got to continue to build off of it,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “We need to take care of the football and get this turnover margin going in our favor as we finish out these last three.”

Dual-threat quarterback Malik Cunningham passed for 161 yards and rushed for a career-high 197 and two touchdowns against Virginia. Fine numbers to be certain, but his fumble inside Cavaliers territory with 8:22 left in the game dashed any hope of a rally.

Cunningham, however, isn’t giving up on the season following Louisville’s second straight loss and sixth in seven games.

“We’re definitely playing for pride,” Cunningham said. “We want to win these games out. We’ve been trying to do everything right throughout the weeks. We’ve just been coming up short.”

Cunningham came up large against the Orange last season, throwing for a career-best five touchdowns and rushing for another in Louisville’s 56-34 win.

Louisville’s Javian Hawkins rolled up 233 yards and a touchdown on the ground in that game while teammate Tutu Atwell had five receptions for 152 yards and two scores.

Hawkins and Atwell, however, were two of seven Cardinals players who did not play against Virginia. Hawkins, who ranks fourth in the ACC with 822 yards rushing, announced on Monday that he was opting out of the remainder of the season and would enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

“(Hawkins) came in this week to talk about it, and he wasn’t fully decided on what he wanted to do. I think it hit home when one of his roommates tested positive,” Satterfield said. “He has a dream that he wants to go tackle that. Obviously for us, selfishly, we’d love to have him.”

Hassan Hall is expected to return after missing three games with an undisclosed injury to join redshirt freshman Jalen Mitchell and Maurice Burkley in the Louisville backfield.

Atwell, who is also nursing an undisclosed injury, is questionable to play Friday.

“No specifics,” Satterfield said of Atwell. “Should know more this week. I think he’ll be really close to be able to come back. The negative is that it’s a short week.”

The Cardinals have fared well when they are not committing turnovers. Louisville is averaging 27.9 points per game and 440.6 total yards while surrendering just 392.1. By comparison, Syracuse is averaging 18.3, 263.8 and 464.3, respectively.

The Orange fell under those two offensive numbers while dropping their fifth straight decision in their most recent outing, a 16-13 setback to Boston College on Nov. 7.

Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed 19 of 30 passes for 188 yards with one touchdown and one interception in his first career start.

“The team needs to carry JaCobian, JaCobian is young,” Orange coach Dino Babers said. “We need to all play better to make it easier on him.”

Taj Harris reeled in seven passes for 61 yards against the Eagles. He had a team-leading six catches for 58 yards in last year’s tilt versus the Cardinals.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback JaCobian Morgan (15) is tackled by Boston College Eagles linebacker John Lamot (28) in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Boumerhi helps Boston College to narrow win over Syracuse

Sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec went 20-of-29 passing for 208 yards and a touchdown to lead Boston College to a 16-13 win at Syracuse in an ACC football game on Saturday.

The game was lower scoring than expected, given Boston College (5-3, 4-3) entered the game averaging 27.6 points a game, while Syracuse was averaging 19.0 points a contest.

The teams traded field goals to start, with senior kicker Aaron Boumerhi giving Boston College a 3-0 lead on a 33-yard field goal with 1:03 remaining in the first quarter and Syracuse junior Aaron Szmyt tying the game at 3-3 with 11:59 left until halftime on a 35-yard field goal.

Boston College took a 10-3 lead just before halftime on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jurkovec to sophomore wideout Zay Flowers with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.

Szmyt kicked a 46-yard field goal with 6:20 left in the third to cut Boston College’s lead to 10-6, but the Eagles went back up by a touchdown at 13-6 on a 34-yard field goal by Boumerhi with 14:56 left in the game.

Boumerhi then gave Boston College a 16-6 lead with 2:05 remaining on a 22-yard field goal, but Syracuse didn’t go away quietly.

The Orange mounted a quick 75-yard drive down the field and scored their first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard touchdown pass from freshman JaCobian Morgan to senior tight end Aaron Hackett.

But Boston College successfully recovered an onside kick attempt by Syracuse and ran out the clock to preserve the win.

Morgan went 19-of-30 passing for 188 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Syracuse (1-7, 1-6), which has lost five straight games.

Junior running back David Bailey rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries and Flowers caught six passes for 64 yards to flank Jurkovec for Boston College, which outgained Syracuse, 399-240.

–Field Level Media