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Insider

Five storylines: Syracuse

Each week We Are SC will take a look at five storylines involving its Saturday opponent. Here are some key things to watch about Syracuse.

1. Nassib with a test: Ryan Nassib certainly started the season off on the right foot, setting single-game records for passing yards (482), completions (45), attempts (66) and total offense (512 yards). And while his talent is undeniable, the three-year starter faces a much stiffer test this week as he goes up against a Trojans defense led by safety T.J. McDonald.

2. Tall task for defense: With Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods acting as the headliners, The Trojans offense presents a daunting challenge for the Syracuse defense. Players like defensive end Markus Pierce-Brewster and linebacker Dan Vaughan will need to pressure Barkley if the Orange are going to have a chance here.

3. Avoid a post-loss hangover: In their opener against Northwestern, Syracuse clawed all the way back from a 35-13 third quarter deficit before falling 42-41 on a last-minute Wildcats touchdown. For the Orange players looking to end a losing streak that now sits at six games, it was heartbreaking to say the least. The test for head coach Doug Marrone is to get his squad back on track and motivated for a No. 2-ranked USC team.

4. Eliminate mental mistakes: Syracuse was flagged an eye-popping 12 times against Northwestern for 72 yards on Saturday. And there were plenty of mistakes on special teams too, with the Orange punt return unit giving up 134 yards and one touchdown on just two returns.

5. Reinforcements on the way?: There are a number of key players on the verge of returning for Syracuse who could have an impact on the game. Tight end David Stevens, a star in fall camp, appears all set to play, while Alec Lemon, the single-season Syracuse receptions leader, and All-Big East left tackle Justin Pugh, are bigger question marks. All three are considered big-time contributors.