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UConn Loss is Proof Marrone is Even Better Than We Thought

Hoping for a Big East title the last few weeks was admittedly a reach. But when you stumble out of five-year football darkness, any light shines bright. Syracuse will not grab that automatic berth (unless about a million results fall into its lap, but let’s close that door for now), bowl eligibility has been clinched, and next week’s game against Boston College is simply to avoid ending the season losing three of four.

Here’s Brian Bennett’s take on the league from ESPN.com:

“Lots of wacky scenarios remain possible in the Big East race, but in all likelihood this is now a three-team derby. Pitt still has the inside lane with a one-game lead over the field, but West Virginia and Connecticut are right behind the Panthers with two conference losses, and the Mountaineers play Pitt on Friday. UConn wins all head-to-head tiebreakers with both West Virginia and Pitt by virtue of its wins over each. Pitt just needs to win out to take the title, while West Virginia needs a UConn loss somewhere along the way.”

The hucksters that actually theorized Syracuse could finish with 10 wins by running off victories in its final four games ignored one glaring SU weakness. The Orange is not that good. Marrone and co. have taken advantage of a kooky Big East and stolen a few victories (West Virginia, Cincinnati) to become a league player earlier than expected.

While a loss yesterday may have deflated some of the momentum for Doug Marrone’s Coach of the Year candidacy, ironically it’s further proof he’s done an incredible job. Ryan Nassib is not that good. The offensive line is not that good. The wide receivers are not that good. The overall talent – even defensively – is not that good. Yet, here’s a program poised to potentially win eight games this year.

Marrone has dragged the ‘Cuse to this point in the race by finding two great equalizers: A stout defense and letting the other team make mistakes. Saturday night, it was UConn taking advantage of Syracuse’s turnovers and miscues – a role-reversal for the ’10 Orange.

But watching Nassib and the offense flail like a fat guy in a swimming pool was eye-opening. As Marrone wins recruiting battles and develops his own types of SU players, hopefully the talent discrepancy will even out. Right now, the ‘Cuse can only sit and watch how the rest of the Big East unfolds – landing a bowl anywhere from Orlando to the Bronx. The mere fact this undermanned, solidly-coached SU team has wrapped up a postseason berth already is staggering unto itself.

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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