Syracuse’s 37-36 comeback win was obviously a season-saving type game. A loss in Tampa probably would’ve rendered a bowl bid impossible. But the victory proved the guts and resiliency the Orange has. Here’s my knee-jerk reaction:
- Ryan Nassib has certainly had his fair share of inconsistency, but the game-winning drive to ice USF was epic. The 8-play, 75-yard drive took only 1:20 and Nassib looked in control the entire time. He’s got moxy, and whatever physical tools he lacks, he makes up for at times with attitude. His first two plays went to Jarrod West and Marcus Sales and put the drive at the USF 36 in just a few seconds.
- The Orange offense put up a second half for the ages. 6 drives, 5 touchdowns, 34 points. SU had 3 scoring drives of more than 75 yards. Give Nate Hackett (the much maligned) credit. Clearly he saw vulnerabilities at half and made the proper adjustments. Then sliced the Bulls.
- There’s been more than a few times this season where we wondered where the program stood. Was Syracuse moving forward, or stuck in neutral because Doug Marrone and his staff couldn’t get the players to wake up to their potential. This was the type of win where we see evidence of how they can respond as a unit. They never stopped playing for Doug, and that’s as important as anything. Recruiting is clearly better, the talent level is rising. But we need to see games and performances where they’re also getting solid coaching. Saturday night in Tampa, SU’s staff outcoached Skip Holtz’s squad.
- This was a classic USF game, in the middle of a classic USF season. Always have immense talent, but once again the Bulls just can’t get it done. The Big East has yet to catch a break in the Bulls being competitive. USF has always had a chance to be a very strong national program, and garner respect for the conference. Never taken advantage of.
- Syracuse had far too many penalties on the road (10), but didn’t commit a turnover. So in the KYP (Kill Yourself Plays) department, the Orange tallied 10 (0 turnovers). But it was enough because the Bulls also did (9 flags/1 turnover).
- Against the run, SU clearly was overmatched – perhaps the biggest concern to take away from Saturday night. The Bulls ran at will, and totaled 369 yards (including two 100-yard rushers). Sure, some of that is BJ Daniels natural elusiveness. But Teddy Bridgewater is pretty tough to catch as well, so contain has to be far better when the Orange take on UofL.
- Nice to see the bruising Jerome Smith continue his hard-plowing ways. Another 125 yard day for him, and ‘Rome has proved what a solid feature back he has become.
- More breathing room for the Orange bowl hopes. Now SU needs to only split its final 4 games, including a game at Temple. Just shows you how brutal that Rutgers loss really was. The Orange were a blocked FG-brought back for a TD away from potentially being 4-0 in the Big East. Incredible.