Syracuse defeated UConn on Friday in a game that made former Orange(men) and current Huskies coach Paul Pasqualoni wish he had come to central New York for the hayrides and apple picking rather than for a football game. Led by Ryan Nassib (14/20, 251 YDS, 2 TD), Jerome Smith (19 CAR, 133 YDS) and Sir Alec Lemon (8 REC, 166 YDS, 1 TD), the Orange trounced the Huskies in every aspect of the game to win going away, 40-10. Syracuse “improved” to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big East.
The numbers don’t show anything that’s really surprising. 500+ yards of total offense is nothing new for the Orange. The Syracuse run defense has been stout of late, but still, holding UConn to -6 yards in total rushing is an impressive, almost Madden-esque feat. The game plan was simple; shut down the Husky rushing attack and force UConn’s solid, if not spectacular, quarterback Chandler Whitmer to win the game with his arm. He proved unequal to the task. In fact, the only really surprising thing about this game is that Syracuse game away with a victory.
We Syracuse fans don’t need to be reminded how Syracuse can seem to dominate a game and still manage to lose. It’s not necessary to rehash Syracuse’s inability to close out games. Suffice to say that UConn just isn’t very good and the Orange were able to take advantage.
Still, that doesn’t mean that the problems that have plagued Syracuse this season have been rectified. It only means that the Huskies were unable to capitalize on those typical Syracuse miscues. I’ll admit that I wasn’t able to watch the whole game. Familial obligations limited me to watching the first two Syracuse drives and the last eight minutes or so of the third quarter. In those maybe fifteen minutes of game time I was able to watch, Syracuse fumbled twice. One was a botched hand off and the other was a bad shotgun snap. Now, sure, Syracuse recovered those loose balls. And there’s nothing to say that a better team like, say, Louisville would have recovered them where UConn didn’t. But the fact remains that those mistakes are still being made. They didn’t end up hurting the Orange at all this time, but I’d much rather they not be made at all.
With the win over the Huskies, the Orange need to go 3-2 over their last five games in order to reach that magical 6 win mark and be eligible for
beef a bowl. as of yet, the Orange have proven that they can only beat FCS teams and bad FBS teams. Of the remaining opponents, only USF (2-5, 0-3 Big East) can really be considered a bad team. Louisville is undefeated and Cincinnati has only one loss. Missouri might be 0-4 in the SEC…but they’re playing in the SEC. Three of their four conference losses have been against top 10 teams. And Temple, who were booted from the Big East for being terrible, are actually a spot ahead of the Orange in the Big East standings.
This isn’t to say that Syracuse’s bowl changes are doomed, just that they still has a lot of work to do if it’s going to get the three plus wins it needs to be bowl eligible. The Orange have the talent to win every game left on the slate. It’s just a matter of giving themselves a fair shot.