From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
The key to bringing an offensive football team to daylight is the emergence of a solid running game.
Syracuse University, which struggled mightily in its first two games on offense, may have found a spark plug in Sean Tucker, whose 112 yards rushing on 24 carries helped the Orange to its first win, 37-20, over Georgia Tech on Saturday at the remodeled Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
The freshman back from Maryland added two touchdown runs, covering 38 and 4 yards, and he averaged 4.7 yards per carry.
The Orange’s 163 rushing yards helped open up the passing game for QB Tommmy DeVito, who completed 13-of-24 passes for 194 yards with two TDs and a pick.
Entering Saturday, the Orange was LAST among all Division I teams, averaging 2.5 yards gained on first down. That automatically had put the offense and DeVito in a bind.
SU scored more points (17) in the first quarter of Saturday’s game than it did in its opening two games.
The 5-foot-10, 202-pound Tucker took advantage of the offensive line opening up holes by showing deceiving strength and some dash while bursting through gaps.
It was also beneficial the offense had a short field to work with most of the time after the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over five times.
SU is off this weekend.
n Thoughts on the expanded MLB playoffs: Don’t be surprised in this whacky season caused by the coronavirus pandemic if the unusual happens. Most of the time, it’s not about the star players who shine, but solid veterans like Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz who do the damage. But one formula remains good for a team to win the World Series — two or three stalwart starting pitchers, a better-than-average bullpen at the back end, and clutch hitting, especially with two outs.
Here are my predictions:
Wild Card (Best-of-3)
No. 1 Rays over No. 8 Blue Jays in 2 games; No. 2 A’s over No. 7 White Sox in 3; No. 3 Twins over No. 6 Astros in 2; No. 5 Yankees over No. 4 Indians in 3.
No. 1 Dodgers over No. 8 Brewers in 2 games; No. 2 Braves over No. 7 Reds in 3; No. 3 Cubs over No. 6 Marlins in 3; No. 4 Padres over No. 5 Cardinals in 3.
Division (Best-of 5)
Rays over Yankees in 4; Twins over A’s in 5; Dodgers over Padres in 5; Cubs over Braves in 5.
Rays over Twins in 6; Dodgers over Cubs in 6.
World Series (Best-of-7)
Dodgers over Rays in 7.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org