Coming into Saturday, Syracuse had not started a season 3-0 since 1991. It will need to wait until next year to try and accomplish that feat.
SU lost to Maryland 34-20 in the Dome in front of a crowd over 40,000. Early on, the Orange was unable to get much going against the Terrapins, but Syracuse ended with 589 yards of total offense, compared to 369 for the Terrapins. The score was the only thing that mattered, though.
The turning point came when the Orange drove down the field late in the second quarter. Already down 24-13, Hunt completed a long pass to Jarrod West, putting SU in the red zone. On the next play Hunt threw his first interception of the season and it was returned 88-yards for a touchdown by Maryland’s William Likely. After the Pick-6, the energy in the Dome deflated, leaving the crowd stunned.
On the ensuing drive, the Orange drove all the way down field, but was faced with a fourth and goal at the eight. SU attempted a 25-yard field goal with Ryan Horton, but missed wide left. Two red zone opportunities, zero points. Syracuse headed into the half trailing 31-13. Looking for the field goal was questioned by many SU fans. The game was over from there.
The SU defense did a good job in the second half, keeping the score at 31-13. But again the SU offense couldn’t finish drives, never getting closer than the Maryland 31-yard line in the second half until very late in the fourth quarter.
Scott Shafer preaches discipline, but post game said the most disappointing part were all the Orange penalties. SU did not follow its own formula of winning the turnover battle, winning the ground by 50 yards, and protecting in the kicking game. The Orange was inept in most of those departments, committing a pick-6 and a fumble, missing a field goal and allowing a blocked punt.
Was SU looking ahead? Maybe. Cornerback Julian Whigham said everyone is looking forward to the national stage in prime-time against Notre Dame. But SU isn’t good enough to look past any team, and admittedly did exactly that against Nova as well.
SU played a sloppy game, but Terrapins wide receiver Stefon Diggs really didn’t do much to hurt the Orange. Quarterback CJ Brown was relatively held in check on the ground. The Orange just couldn’t get anything going offensively, and when it did, could not finish off drives.
In light of the disappointing loss at home, two members of the Orange made program history on the ground. Hunt became the first SU quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards in a game since Donovan McNabb in 1997, and Prince-Tyson Gulley moved into 25th all time on the SU rushing list.
It’s back to the drawing board for Shafer’s Orange, because next weekend is no easier. SU takes on a ranked Irish team with the nation’s eyes on them.
Posted: Seth Goldberg