SYRACUSE — Sean Tucker is determined to turn his record-setting day into an occasion to celebrate bowl eligibility for the Syracuse University football team.

The second-year freshman running back will lead Syracuse (5-5 overall, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) into an Atlantic Division clash against No. 24/25 North Carolina State (7-3, 4-2) at 4 p.m. today at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh N.C.

The Orange was listed as an 11½-point underdog on as of Friday evening for the matchup pitting its top rush offense against the ACC’s stingiest run defense of the Wolfpack, to be televised on the ACC Network.

Tucker enters with 1,362 rushing yards for the season, placing him 11 yards shy of surpassing Joe Morris for the SU single-season record set in 1979. The Orange needs one win in its final two games to secure a bowl berth.

“I just go out and play my game, whenever it happens, it happens,” Tucker said of approaching the record. “I don’t really focus on it. I just want to focus on getting a win and helping my team.”

Tucker has shined throughout a breakout campaign and is a top-10 semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the top running back in the country, as well as a top-15 semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, given to the top overall player.

He enters second in the FBS for rushing yards, trailing Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III by 111 for first place, and he leads the nation with 1,601 yards from scrimmage. Tucker is also just 12 yards shy of becoming the 24th player in SU history to reach 2,000 career rushing yards.

“It’s a great feeling, not only for Sean but for us as offensive linemen,” SU offensive lineman Darius Tisdale said. “We really pride ourselves on being the hardest workers on this team and getting him into that position would be an incredible blessing, not only for us but for him as well. We can’t wait.”

The electric rusher has combined with quarterback Garrett Shrader to run for 2,075 yards and form the top tandem in the FBS. Shrader is just 100 yards shy of the top rushing total for a QB in SU history, and the next rushing or receiving TD by either player will give them the most combined in a single season for any duo in SU history.

Syracuse ranks fifth nationally in rushing and hopes to reignite the ground game coming off its worst offensive output of the year in a 41-3 road setback last Saturday at Louisville.

The Orange was held to a season-low 184 yards of offense and 138 rushing yards on 39 carries, while failing to establish any kind of pass threat to prevent the Cardinals from loading the box while being held without a TD for the first time.

Getting back on track could prove a daunting task against the Wolfpack, which allows 102.1 yards per game on the ground to rank 11th nationally in rush defense and set a pace for the second-best mark in team history.

North Carolina State has allowed just five rushing TDs, tied for the fourth fewest in the FBS, three of which were surrendered last week in a 45-42 loss at No. 12 Wake Forest with six defensive starters out due to injury.

“They look like they don’t want people to run the ball at all, and they force people to throw the football, so we’re working right now,” SU coach Dino Babers said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. That’s a good football team that stops the run.”

The Wolfpack will also challenge the SU defense to rebound from a rough outing with the 20th-ranked pass game in the FBS at 291 yards per game. Devin Leary ranks fourth among ACC quarterbacks in passing (288.3). In ACC games only, the Wolfpack QB leads the conference in passing efficiency (157.25) and 21 passing TDs.

Syracuse is aiming to secure its first bowl berth since 2018 and will host No. 19/20 Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale Nov. 27 in the Carrier Dome at a time to be determined.

The matchup was placed on a six-day hold by the ACC with kickoff time and TV info to be released after all league games are completed this weekend.

“We came out very physical, aggressive,” said SU sixth-year defensive lineman Josh Black, regarding practice this week. “We know what’s at stake. We have two games left to make it to a bowl game, and we just want to make sure we send everybody out the right way.”


NOTES: The matchup pits the ACC’s top rushing offense (236.7 yards per game) in SU against its top rushing defense (102.1) from N.C. State. The Wolfpack also rank 14th nationally in scoring defense (18.9 points per game) and third in the ACC for total defense (329.9).

The SU defense ranks fifth in the FBS for sacks per game (3.4) and 12th in tackles for loss average (7.1). It also ranks 22nd nationally in total defense (326.3 yards per game) and is on pace for its best finish since 2010 (301.5). SU has posted the seventh-best sack total in team history, nine shy of matching the record of 43 set in 2018.

N.C. State has scored on 89.2 percent of red-zone drives, the 27th best mark the FBS, and has scored on 18 of 19 trips in the last six games.

The N.C. State defense leads the ACC with 13 interceptions.

N.C. State left tackle Ikem Ekwonu is the highest-graded OL by Pro Football Focus College, credited with allowing only one sack in 700 snaps.

N.C. State is 5-0 at home this year and leads the all-time series against SU, 12-2, including a 6-1 mark in home games.


Syracuse: DL, Cody Roscoe — The returning senior and McNeese State transfer in his second season at SU is tied for 19th nationally with eight total sacks, recording at least one in six of 10 games.

He needs two sacks to join SU’s single-season top-10 list. He also ranks 19th in the FBS with 12 tackles-for-loss and was named an AP Midseason All-American. In 21 career games for the Orange, Roscoe has logged 10 sacks and 18 TFLs.

North Carolina State: WR, Emeka Emezie — The 6-foot-3 and 212-pound fifth-year senior has a catch in 43 straight games for the third longest active streak in the FBS.

He was named ACC WR of the Week after posting 10 catches for 133 yards and 2 TDs last game and ranks eighth in the ACC with 68.3 receiving yards per game.

Emezie is the Wolfpack career leader in receptions (223), ranks third with 2,776 receiving yards, and sixth with 17 TD catches.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.