Syracuse football can consider tonight’s game a must-win – not for bowl-eligibility, but for relevance. We can be a fickle bunch, and a loss to USF at the Dome means Orange Nation will turn its attention squarely onto the top-5 basketball team’s opener tomorrow. The last decade of SU football left fans with too many hopeless Novembers. Last year The Dougie and co. finally broke through, but with an elite hoops team and an ugly two-game losing streak, football is in danger of fading to black.
Syracuse football has come a long way (like landing big recruit Ron “Sugar Bear” Thompson this week), but a hallmark of the Marrone Era has been inconsistency. A big win followed by a brutal loss, playing down to the level of competition, or playing great on the road and terrible at home. Football interest was surging after the win over West Virginia, but sloppy losses to inferior teams has doused that energy.
Orange football is on the ropes. This is the opportunity to re-inject some life into a weary fan base. A Friday night at the Dome, on national television, against a USF team that is winless in conference and a chance to become bowl eligible. At best, a loss means a much tougher road to a bowl game (vs. CIN at PIT) and losing even more support. At worst, SU football becomes an afterthought this season and fans jump fully into basketball.
This is where The Dougie can distinguish himself from Groobers and the previous “Dark Age” of SU football. Hopefully the team understands how close it is to becoming a footnote and desperation will show.
For the program to continue on its current trajectory, Syracuse needs to get back to a bowl this year. Orange Nation hoped a Big East title was within possibility, and just two weeks ago that seemed plausible. Now it’s all about avoiding sitting home for the postseason. But the conference-leading Bearcats and a trip to Heinz Field looming means tonight is the time for ‘Cuse to seal up its bowl bid. The alternative? Risk going 5-7 and ending the season on a five-game losing streak.
It’s time for pull out all the stops and do whatever it takes to get a win tonight. It’s homecoming at the Dome – a chance to avoid coming home for the holidays.
Posted: Alex Plavin