A crowd of over 40,000 fans in the Carrier Dome was a key 12th man for Syracuse to maul #9 Louisville, 45-26. Along with the crowd’s inspiration, everything on offense, defense, and special teams worked to perfection for SU. The seniors were certainly sent off in proper fashion, and the win sets the team up to clinch a bowl game. Finally, Syracuse showed how capable it is of winning big games in the Big East. The Orange could actually finish tied for 2nd in the conference if things fall correctly in the final two games. Here is this week’s Fizz Five in the victory over the Cardinals.
- Ryan Nassib has a case for best in the league.
Teddy who? Nassib not only led a huge offensive attack against the Louisville defense, but made a case that he is the best quarterback in the Big East conference. The captain was 15/23 for 243 yards and 3 TD passes. He broke the Big East all-time record in completions, now with 738 in his career. In these big games, Nassib is calm and cool in the pocket and lets his instincts take over on the field. He took care of business, while Teddy Bridgewater couldn’t find his rhythm at all. Bridgewater never made those signature superstar plays, while Nassib hit Jeremiah Kobena right out of the gate for a 45-yard gain. Nassib also executed his deep ball to perfection. Doug Marrone said this was the best he had ever seen Nassib throw the long bomb. Ryan’s demeanor continues to impress each and every week, and we should expect no drop off in his performance in the final two regular season contests.
- Alec Lemon overcame his Louisville curse.
Lemon had a terrific game, being targeted 17 times, reeling in 176 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He joked after the game that he never had a good game against the Cards. But Lemon was totally fixed on not letting that happen in his final game at the Dome. He had a classic foot drag TD in the back of the end zone and made the highlight reel on multiple occasions. Credit Nassib for finding Lemon, but Alec made some solid catches and got yards after catches as well. If anyone deserved a send-off like this it was Alec. He consistently leads by example for this football team and is a key component in getting the Orange to bowling season.
- SU’s running attack was relentless.
You would think with all of the Nassib to Lemon connections the ground game wasn’t much of a need for the Orange. But Syracuse’s running duo in Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson Gulley contributed to a 278 yard day for Syracuse, compared to Louisville’s 48. Smith rushed for over 100 yards in his fourth straight game and has emerged as a top running back in the conference. He admitted after the game how he individually is trying to get better a lit bit each week. And PTG was like a bus on Saturday. He refused to go down, especially when he ran in a score from 55 yards out and almost tripped himself a few times. The heart and guts on this day was from the RB unit. Nassib only had to throw the ball 23 times. The backs helped SU clobber Louisville and manage the teams third-down efficiency at 14 of 19.
- SU’s defense/special teams got back to the fundamentals.
Fans were probably upset the Orange settled for a FG once they reached the red zone early on. But then came an added spark, as Louisville’s dropped punt return set up SU with food field position when Llewellyn Coker recovered it. Dyshawn Davis had a key interception to seal the game. And the defensive line got back to the basics by stopping the run effectively. Deon Goggins said postgame it was tough giving up 600+ yards in the past two contests, but the team came out and took care of business. Bridgewater did throw for over 400 yards, but the defense never allowed him to get comfortable and make the highlight reel plays he’s capable of. Syracsue needs similar efforts from this veteran-studded defense in the final two games.
- Syracuse is capable of winning out.
This is finally the complete package we’ve been waiting to see Syracuse fans. Every phase was executed to perfection. Syracuse didn’t turn the ball over and the penalty number was cut down significantly to seven for 55 yards. It’s certainly possible the Orange win out and finish 7-5, 5-2. But that same focus and determination from this win has to remain the same. The intensity level can’t drop off as it did last year during SU’s five-game slide. Nassib addressed that:
“We played mistake-free football, just tried to play our game and not do too much and had fun doing it. Having success early on puts the pressure on the opposing team. It gets the momentum going and that’s what happened today.”
SU is just one win away from a bowl. Let’s hope this win over fuels the Orange to finish off its season with a bang, and end the program’s tenure in the Big East on a serious high note.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen