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Friday, November 16, 2012
Big East: Who will transform tomorrow?

By Andrea Adelson

Here is the player I think has the best chance to transform tomorrow with a big performance in Week 12: Syracuse running back Jerome Smith.

Smith has really come on strong in the past four games -- three of them victories for the Orange. He has four consecutive 100-yard games, including a career-best 144 yards against Louisville on Nov. 10. The Orange had their best rushing day of the season last week, with 278 total yards. Prince-Tyson Gulley has gotten more involved as well, with double-digit carries in the past three games -- and 98 yards last week.

All told this season, Syracuse is averaging 167.9 yards per game, on pace for its most rushing yards per game since 2004 (178.8).

But the last four games have been telling. Syracuse has averaged 228.5 yards rushing in those contests. In the first six games of the season, that average was just 129.5 yards per game.

Because the Orange will be traveling to take on Missouri on Saturday, establishing the run will be more important than ever. Doing so will once again take the pressure off quarterback Ryan Nassib, and keep the home crowd out of the game. It is probably no coincidence that his interceptions have decreased to zero in the past four games -- when the running game has worked better than it has all season.