Time is running out for Syracuse football to become bowl eligible after its embarrassing 37-17 loss to USF. For a season that has turned into a nightmare over the last three weeks, there is one bright spot looming: the bye week. Unfortunately, it may be too late to remain relevant in the campus discussion since all eyes seem to have turned to the basketball opener. But it’s the second of two football byes this year, a reward for finishing in the top 6 in the Big East last season.
Friday night dropped the Orange to dead last in the Big East, and dreams of a BCS bowl birth have turned into prayers for merely a sixth win. But Doug Marrone has shown an ability to rally his boys after time off: he’s 4-0 coming out of byes, including the long layoff before the Pinstripe Bowl last December. This team desperately needs this upcoming week.
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Last year, the Orange nose-dived the final month of the regular season, finishing with three horrible loses over its final four games. SU had nothing left in the tank. Straight up gassed. Playing eight straight weeks can grind a team, especially one that hadn’t experienced success in years. A putrid Orange offense averaged just 8 points per game during that stretch against Rutgers, UConn and Boston College. The difference is Syracuse had notched that all-important sixth win by Halloween last season. SU is still searching going into the final two weeks.
So at a time when the entire Syracuse community is ripping its hair out, don’t panic. Not yet. This bye week is perfectly placed in the final month of the season, and is clearly just what this team needs. It gives Ryan Nassib time to regain some continuity with his receivers. The defense has a chance to correct mental mistakes and prepare for a now vulnerable Cincinnati offense. The Bearcats are now a different team once we saw QB Zach Collaros carted off the field against West Virginia.
Before we predict a bitter collapse, have faith in The Dougie will have the Orange ready to go in two weeks. SU exploded for 49 points off the bye against the Mountaineers earlier this year, and we all remember the offensive outburst in the Pinstripe Bowl. Although this USF loss will haunt the Orange for two weeks, the bye is an auspicious prescription for success.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald
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