I didn’t see that one coming. I haven’t been this happy to be wrong since I passed Biology 101 with Marvin Druger.
Behind a stellar defensive effort, Syracuse earned an upset 19-14 win against nationally ranked #20 West Virginia in Morgantown. The Orange had not beaten WVU since 2001, and now we can add this victory to the “for the first time” list I’ve been compiling. For the first time in eight years, the Schwartzwalder Trophy will reside in Manley Field House.
The Mountaineers scored two first quarter touchdowns. After scoring a field goal on its opening drive, Ryan Nassib found Van Chew for a 29-yard touchdown before Syracuse rattled off four straight field goals to take a 19-14 lead into halftime. I could nitpick and say that the Orange didn’t do its job in the red zone, but why bother? Today, it didn’t need to.
Neither team scored in the second half. The Orange defense swarmed Geno Smith, who had a ridiculous 68.4% completion rating coming into the game. Smith finished 20-37 (about 54%–good but definitely not typical Smith) and a startling three interceptions (twice by Doug Hogue; both lead to field goals). He was sacked five times, a season-high for the Orange. In addition to his two interceptions, Hogue became a virtual lock for Big East Defensive Player of the Week with 10 tackles, eight of them solo.
Syracuse had to play the second half without running back Delone Carter, who had 75 yards on eight carries before leaving the game with a hip injury. Antwon Bailey picked up his slack with 94 yards. Nassib struggled, going 5-15 with just 63 yards. Again, today it didn’t matter that the quarterback, in just his seventh career start, was over matched by a nationally ranked defense. Thanks to Scott Shafer, Syracuse has a formidable defense of its own.
The Orange also has a 5-2 record and sits atop the Big East. Doug Marrone is one victory away from matching the total number of wins Greg Robinson earned in his four years on the hill (10). Robinson is now a distant memory for a team rewriting its recent history and working its way back to being relevant. A Bowl Game is no longer a dream, it is just one to two wins away depending on how the BCS will view Syracuse’s two W’s against subdivision schools. After today, I do not doubt that Syracuse will get those coveted victories.
Everyone who has knocked the Orange saying it “hasn’t won a real game” will have to find another reason to not believe in Doug Marrone’s team. Or maybe they can just give SU the credit it deserves.
About the Author
Written by Beth Ann Clyde
I graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 and can count the number of times I witnessed the Orange win a football game on two hands.