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USF vs. Syracuse: Picks, best bets for Boca Bowl on Thursday

The Bulls and Orange meet in a matchup of former Big East foes.

Alabama v USF Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The USF Bulls face the Syracuse Orange in the 2023 Boca Raton Bowl on Thursday, December 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida and the game will air on ESPN.

USF (6-6, 4-4 AAC) bounced back from a loss to UTSA to beat Charlotte in their final game of the season and become bowl eligible. In the 48-14 win over Charlotte, Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown passed for four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth. Brown finished the season with 23 passing TDs, 11 rushing scores, and 11 interceptions. Nay’Quan Wright led the team in rushing yards with 757 and 7 TDs.

Syracuse (6-6, 2-6 ACC) grabbed a 35-31 win over Wake Forest in their final game to become bowl eligible. The Orange fired head coach Dino Babers after the regular season ended. The Boca Bowl will mark Fran Brown’s first game as head coach. Syracuse started their 2023 season strong, but seriously struggled in conference play. Quarterback Garrett Shrader finished the season with 13 passing touchdowns and six interceptions.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

USF: 102 overall, 61 offense, 123 defense
Syracuse: 68 overall, 92 offense, 50 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game




QB Garrett Shrader - Out (Shoulder surgery)
WR Damien Alford - Questionable (upper body)
RB Ike Daniels - Out (transfer portal)
WR Isaiah Jones - Out (transfer portal)


Against The Spread in 2023

USF: 6-6 ATS
Syracuse: 5-6-1 ATS

Total in 2023

USF: Over 7-5
Syracuse: Over 5-7

Team Pace

USF: 20.7 seconds per play
Syracuse: 25.7 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Syracuse -3
Total: 55.5
Moneyline: Syracuse -155, USF +130


67°F, Cloudy, 8% chance of rain, 13 MPH winds NE with 21 MPH wind gusts

Our Best Bet for the Boca Bowl

USF +3

The Orange are operating under an interim head coach, and there may be growing pains as they adjust from a disappointing regular season to a one-off bowl game. USF QB Byrum Brown poses a dual threat in the air and on the ground, and I think the Bulls catch the Orange on their heels here.