While Stony Brook rolled in a 77-7 rout of Division II Pace last week, Syracuse held its own against No. 2-ranked USC in a 42-29 loss. So the Orange (0-2) and the Seawolves (2-0) will be coming from opposite ends of the competitive spectrum when they meet at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse proved it can move the ball, picking up 27 first downs on a Southern California team many expect to contend for the BCS national title. Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns and Syracuse pulled within five points entering the fourth quarter.
But Stony Brook is no soft touch. The Seawolves hope to challenge for a national title at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level with a high-scoring offense led by running backs Miguel Maysonet and Marcus Coker.
The Seawolves never have beaten a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), but after losing in overtime last year at the University of Texas-El Paso, they're excited about the chance to test Syracuse, a Big East team that is moving to the ACC next season.
"Beating Syracuse would be a huge step in our program, a big steppingstone that would put our team on the map a little bit more," SBU junior cornerback Davonte Anderson said. "We're pretty confident that we can win this game.
"I feel like we're going to be really prepared. It's a dream game for me -- big game, big team and they pass a lot. What more can I ask for?"
Those are bold words, but Anderson and the rest of the Seawolves understand they face a huge challenge. Nassib is third in Syracuse history with 6,245 passing yards, second in touchdown passes (50) and first in completions (572), and he has a deep corps of wide receivers that includes Marcus Sales, Alec Lemon and Jarrod West. Sales had eight catches for 104 yards and two TDs against the Trojans.
"That will probably be the thing we struggle with the most is our secondary versus their skill outside," Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. "That'll be true from this [FCS] level to that [FBS] level. They're a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger and a little bit faster. We'll have to trick them a little bit to get some pressure on them, and yet, too much pressure means you've got to take guys out of coverage, which causes big plays. You've got to be careful."
The best defense for the Seawolves might be a ball-control rushing attack that keeps Nassib off the field. But Anderson, who had two interceptions against Pace to give him eight for his career, isn't worried about the physical matchup.
"Most of this game is mental," said the 5-9 Anderson, who held his own as a freshman at South Florida of the Big East. "I'm a small player, so I have to rely on my technique and my knowledge of the game. Tall players, I'm not afraid of that at all . . . It's a big game for us, probably one of the biggest games we'll play this year."
Time to see how Stony Brook measures up.