Part of me is tempted to say, “Ho-hum, the Syracuse defense plays a great game. Ho-hum, Syracuse wins again. Let’s be honest, though, nothing about winning is “ho-hum” if you’ve been following the Orange for longer than the last month. At worst, Syracuse will finish with a .500 record for the first time since 2004. At best, the Orange will represent the Big East in a BCS Bowl. Don’t laugh. It could happen.
If there is anyone that is still withholding respect for what this program is doing, he or she is probably complaining about a weak Big East Conference (funny how I didn’t hear that in 2006 when Rutgers was having a breakthrough season). Listen, football isn’t exactly the Big East’s “thing.” We know this. Like Boise State; however, the Orange can only beat who it plays. Today, that was a Cincinnati Bearcat team that looks as far removed from its 12-0 2009 regular season as Rex Ryan looks from a salad.
Once again, the Syracuse defense dominated its opponent. It put pressure on Cincy’s backup QB Chazz Anderson, starting in the place of the injured Zach Collaros, and holding the Bearcat offense to just 23 yards (21 of those came on its opening drive) in the first quarter and forced two first-half fumbles. When the Bearcats finally scored in the second quarter, it was the first points allowed by the Syracuse defense in three quarters dating back to last weekend’s huge win over West Virginia.
It looked like the ‘Cuse D was letting up in the third quarter when Cincinnati had a second-and-goal on the SU 5-yard line. Enter Derrell Smith, who quickly erased those doubts with an interception and 60-yard return. Four plays later, Antwon Bailey was in the end zone and the score was 24-7 instead of 17-14.
As key as the Syracuse defense was, it’s hard to talk about a 24-point win without mentioning the offense. Ryan Nassib struggled with his accuracy for the second straight week (5-15 against WVU, 16-26 today), but he hit his receivers when it counted and only threw one pick. Nick Provo caught four of his passes for 40 yards.
If Delone Carter’s hip was bothering him, he certainly didn’t show it. Carter picked up 109 yards on the ground, part of a 137 yard effort by the Syracuse rushing attack. For Carter, it is his ninth career game with 100 rushing yards or more. Bailey chipped in 68 yards—44 on the ground and 24 in the air—and a touchdown.
Another sign things are changing for the Syracuse football program: it even caught a break. With 10:05 left in the first half, Adam Harris fumbled the ball at the goal line, but redshirt senior Ryan Bartholomew fell on it to put SU up 14-0. Technically, it was all the offense Syracuse would need for the rest of the game. If this were any other recent year, a Bearcat would have pounced on it.
I’ll leave you with this: Greg Robinson coached 48 games at Syracuse and won 10. Today, Doug Marrone achieved his 10th career win for SU in just 20 games. Marrone is about as far removed from Big East Coach of the Year as Rex Ryan is from a cheeseburger.
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.