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Syracuse football on upswing in inconsistent season; face Maryland next

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    Syracusecoach, Scott Shafer, center, shouts along the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Wake Forest at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Syracuse defeated Wake Forest 13-0. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)The Associated Press

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    Syracuse's Jason Emerich, left, and Terrel Hunt congratulate one another after defeating Wake Forest 13-0 in an NCAA college football game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)The Associated Press

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    Syracuse's Prince-Tyson Gulley, center, attempts to run past Wake Forest's Anthony Wooding, Jr., left, and Mike Olson during an NCAA college football game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)The Associated Press

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    Syracuse's Dyshawn Davis, left, tackles Wake Forest's Dezmond Wortham during an NCAA college football game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Syracuse won 13-0. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)The Associated Press

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    Wake Forest's Sherman Ragland III, center, is tackled by Syracuse's Julian Whigham, left, during their NCAA college football game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013. Syracuse won 13-0. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth)The Associated Press

In an up-and-down season, Syracuse remains on track to qualify for the postseason for the third time in four years.

When the Orange (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have been up, they've been very good thanks to their defense. On Saturday, they'll face Maryland (5-3, 1-3).

Two weeks after a 56-0 rout on the road by Georgia Tech's ground-chewing triple option, Syracuse rebounded after a bye week with a 13-0 win at home against Wake Forest last week.

The Orange forced Wake Forest to punt 12 times, only one off the Syracuse team mark set in a 47-0 win at Holy Cross in 1968.

Perhaps most impressive has been the defense's performance on third down. Opponents have converted just 37 of 123 attempts (30.1 percent), the eighth-best mark in the nation.