When we began this surprising season before all the Marrone Magic kicked in, six wins seemed possible, just not probable.
Today, after an ass-kicking of defending Big East champ Cincinnati, it’s distinctly realistic the Orange is the second-best team in the league and will be ranked in the Top 25 by the end of the weekend.
Make no mistake, this Bearcats program looks a lot more meek after Brian Kelly left for South Bend. And with more dreadful, uninspired efforts like this one, Butch Jones may find himself on the hot seat before the paint dries on his house.
(The Cincy situation is eerily similar to what happened to Louisville after Bobby Petrino left. The Cards had overachieved because Petrino was a great collegiate offensive mind. Krags came through and the bottom dropped out. Program returned to rightful irrelevance.)
SU has now went on the road three times in the Big East and gone 3-0. Pitt bobbed for oranges on Homecoming at the Dome, so until further notice the Panthers have to be regarded as the best team in the conference.
But the ‘Cuse reaffirmed just how solid a team it is with this win. No let down after the victory in Morgantown. Seventeen points off three Cincy turnovers, a bruising running game, and suffocating defense.
Charlie Loeb took snaps at the end of the fourth because the game was out of reach, underscoring just what a demolition it was. That’s what Alabama does against Vanderbilt. A one-win Big East team from a year ago shouldn’t be going anywhere on the road and subbing in the scrubs in a laugher.
That’s exactly what this Orange team has done. Look at Marrone’s defense. In the three conference road wins, SU pitched a 2nd-half shutout in each. Damn. Plus, notice the reaction on the sidelines with a 24-point lead and victory in hand. No smiling, high-fiving, nor celebrating. Business trips. Expectations. Execution. This looks nothing like the Orange we’ve known for the past decade.
The rest of the schedule is winnable, without any type of hyperbole. It’s unlikely Syracuse could win six straight to end the season. But home to Louisville, UConn and BC. Road at Rutgers. Even if the ‘Cuse goes 2-2, it’s an 8-win season.
Yup. The Orange is proving weekly it’s for real. Marrone’s magic is working.