“Hey everybody! Syracuse is awesome!” shouted a young Syracuse fan on his way out of Rutgers Stadium this evening.
It was a rare display of innocence as Orange and Scarlet Knights fans engaged in your typical, semi-hostile, oft-profanity-laced post game back-and-forth on their way out of Rutgers Stadium.
The boy is probably too young to remember the GROB era. In a way, he’s lucky. Then again, all those hard times make what happened tonight even sweeter. Syracuse will play in its first bowl game since 2004. At 7-3, the Orange is also guaranteed to finish above .500 for the first time since 2001. If you’ve been denying it all season, maybe it is time you get on board with the rest of us: SU football is relevant again.
The last time I was in Rutgers Stadium was as a reporter for the Syracuse student-television station. The Orange’s loss to the Scarlet Knights officially eliminated it from bowl contention. It also all-but officially ensured that Greg Robinson would be getting a pink slip, setting the stage for Doug Marrone to come in and turn his Alma mater around. Today, I watched the game from Section 218 of Rutgers Stadium with my two friends and fellow-SU alums Kerri and Emily.
2:30- On the shuttle to the game. My friends and I stick out like sore thumbs amidst a sea of red. Did you know Syracuse is cold? We do, but every Rutgers fan we talk to feels the need to bring it up, anyway.
2:49- At Rutgers Stadium. “Empire State of Mind” comes on. Someone tell Rutgers this isn’t New York.
2:55- The following conversation ensues:
Rutgers fan: “How bad are you guys going to beat us today?”
Me: “Hopefully real bad!”
Rutgers fan: “Oh come on, you could be nice and say, ‘by 3’ or something.”
3:05- First “Hey Song.”
3:19- Rutgers made up a song to the tune of “Empire State of Mind” and is using it for a “come to Rutgers” video ad. It’s embarrassing. With all the fantastic publicity Jersey has gotten in the past year thanks in great part to Emmy-snubs Real Housewives of New Jersey and Jersey Shore, I was hoping my fellow Jerseyans would stop acting like we’re New York, Jr. I guess we haven’t gotten there yet.
3:27- Otto’s army chants and sings through the Rutgers Alma mater.
3:30- Now we’re all chanting “safety school.” For the record, Rutgers wasn’t even my safety school.
3:46- Ryan Nassib throws a 33-yard pass to Nick Provo. Syracuse picks up a first down on the first play of its second drive.
3:47- Nassib hits Provo again on the Rutgers 36. Unfortunately, Khaseem Greene also hits Provo and forces a fumble. Joe Lefeged recovers it. First down Scarlet Knights on the Rutgers 36 yard line. Syracuse wastes an opportunity to get ahead early…
3:50- …or not! Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Fumble Fest! Syracuse gets it back on the next play after Mike Holmes recovers a Kordell Young fumble.
3:57- Touchdown Orange! Nassib completes a short, four-yard pass to Antwon Bailey. Syracuse strikes first!
The PAT is good. 7-0 ‘Cuse!
4:01- Awful coverage by Syracuse on the kick-off return. Lefeged returns it 47 yards to the Syracuse 43.
4:03- The field position amounts to nothing because Chas Dodd is completely ineffective. Greg Schiano has his offense fake going for it on fourth and six. I’ve never seen that before.
4:09- Uh-oh. The Syracuse O-Line must have forgotten to get on the team bus again. Nassib scrambles, fumbles, and recovers on 3rd and 17. After all that, SU has to punt it away.
4:10- The good news is that Rutgers’ offensive line isn’t much better. Dodd is sacked for a loss of nine.
4:24- Second quarter now. San San Te’s 47-yard field goal attempt goes wide right. This could come back to haunt the Scarlet Knights. With the way Dodd is playing, Rutgers needs to take advantage of all opportunities to score. Still 7-0 Syracuse.
4:33- Dodd is having a terrible game. He just overthrew on third and three. Rutgers has to punt it away again.
4:38- Greene intercepts Nassib’s pass at the Syracuse 40 with 8:27 to go in the half. Greene is the roommate of Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers player who was paralyzed on a play against Army last month. This is the Scarlet Knights’ first home game since the injury. Rutgers cheerleaders are wearing “BELIEVE 52” t-shirts, and there is a banner near the student section that says the same thing. If you would like to find out more about the Eric LeGrand Believe Fund, click here. I don’t give Rutgers credit for much, but this was very special.
4:43- The guys behind us are commenting on how beautiful the sunset is. There isn’t much they haven’t commented on today. They are giving the woman sitting next to them an in-depth explanation of every.single.play. One of my friends concludes there are two possible reasons why they are doing this: 1. She knows nothing about football or 2. She’s blind (she’s wearing sunglasses so it is possible). Regardless, it is incredibly irritating. Earlier, they did a fantastic impression of Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman. They should have quit while they were ahead.
4:49- Dodd hands it off to Jeremy Deering for the fourth straight play. It’s one thing to doubt your quarterback when he’s playing terrible; it’s another to be completely predictable.
4:47- Maybe they should have kept giving it to Deering. Dodd throws the ball in the direction of Mark Harrison, but it’s incomplete. Have I mentioned that Dodd is playing awful lately?
4:48- Rutgers settles for a field goal. San San Te gets it through the uprights this time. 7-3 SU. My eardrums are ringing from the stupid canon RU fires after every point it scores. Thankfully, Rutgers fans are relatively quiet and therefore not compounding my earache.
It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. Between the already-defeated fan I met two hours ago at the concession stand and the lack of enthusiasm at Rutgers Stadium today, RU fans have finally reverted back to preparing for the worst. Not a moment too soon is what I say. I have gotten tired of listening to the Scarlet Knights “faithful” completely overrate this team for the past couple of years. I had Jersey pride and was happy for my friends who went to Rutgers when they beat Louisville in 2007, but since then, Greg Schiano has become increasingly obnoxious, as have the local media and fans. The wheels seem to be falling off the bandwagon. Maybe we should start choppin’ it up! I hear there is still some room on the ‘Cuse bandwagon, front runners! I wouldn’t know since I don’t have to sit on it.
4:55- Antwon Bailey fumbles the football on third and 22 at the Syracuse 46. It is recovered by Jonathan Freeny at the Syracuse 47 with 1:43 to go in the half. Rutgers has a chance to gain some momentum heading into the locker room.
4:57- Oh wait, Dodd is still in the game. Three and out!
5:05- The SU O-Line can’t seem to figure things out (Nassib was sacked twice on the Orange’s last drive of the half), but I think I figured out why the two guys behind me keep giving their lady-friend a play-by-play of the game. She barely speaks English. This might be faulty logic, but I’m going to go with choice #1: she doesn’t understand football.
5:27- The second half has begun without Dodd. Tom Savage, who began the season as the Rutgers QB, has replaced him. Dodd’s line: 3-11, 30 yards, 0 TD, sacked twice. Sad to see you go, buddy! The people behind us appear to have left the building. Thank God.
5:30- Phillip Thomas is injured on a play. A Rutgers fan yells, “Finally! A Syracuse player is the one on the ground.” You stay classy, Rutgers. (Thomas walks off the field.)
5:36- Uh-oh, Savage completes a 34-yard pass to Mark Harrison. Move the chains to the Syracuse 19. Could Savage be providing the Scarlet Knights with a much-needed spark?
5:37-Looks like it. Deering runs it into the end zone. PAT is good. 10-7 Scarlet Knights. I really hate that cannon.
5:39- I have seen countless people get really excited to be on the jumbotron, but the girl they just showed takes the cake. She went absolutely bonkers when she realized she was on the big screen.
5:44- SU is stopped on fourth and one. Rutgers takes over on downs at the Syracuse 49.
5:50- The offensive line fails to protect Nassib. He scrambles, downs the ball, and is called for intentional grounding with 6:45 to go in the third quarter.
5:54- God, the offensive line is bad. Nassib is sacked for the billionth time today on third and sixteen. SU loses six yards on the play and moves back to the Rutgers 24. Cue the field goal unit.
5:55- Krautman nails another one. Ryan Lichenstein picked the wrong season to get injured. Krautman has been money (of the figurative sense…isn’t it sad that I feel compelled to clarify that with all the pay-for-play scandals going on in the NCAA?) for SU all year.
5:57- The third quarter comes to an end with the score tied 10-10. Buckle up, everybody. We could be in for a big finish. The band is trying to pump everyone up by playing “Livin’ on a Prayer” and no one is singing. Way to not represent Jersey to the fullest, Rutgers.
6:23- Nassib eats grass for the second time on this drive and the fourth time today. The offensive line hasn’t protected him all day, so why start now? I mean, there’s only bowl eligibility at stake here…Rob Long has to punt it away.
6:29- Deering is breaking tackles and taking names. Rutgers is all set up. First and 10 at the Syracuse 17 after the 22-yard run. Crap.
6:31- The SU D has buckled down. It’s now third and twelve on the SU 19. Some young Rutgers fan is taunting the ‘Cuse faithful by waving his mustard like it’s a key. Syracuse fans jingle keys on defensive third downs because it’s a “key play.” It’s way better than Rutgers’ creepy third down dance. Well kid, karma’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Savage is sacked for a loss of eight. Rutgers will have to settle for three.
6:32- The kick is up and it’s SHORT! Te misses his second FG of the day. A fan behind me starts chanting, “We want Ito!” Syracuse fans break out into their second, “Safety school!” chant of the day.
6:36- The cheering in Rutgers Stadium is extremely loud and I think they’re using artificial noise. I didn’t think Vince McMahon would want to get involved with football again after the whole XFL debacle, but it appears he’s found a place with the Rutgers in-game entertainment staff.
6:39- And that! Is a Syracuse! First Down! Bailey’s 15-yard run brings it to the Rutgers 16-yard line. 1:30 left in regulation…come on ‘Cuse!!
6:42- A Rutgers student is dancing awkwardly until he realizes he’s on the jumbotron. He then tries to act manly by pumping his fist. Fail.
6:43- Delone Carter fails to pick up a yard on fourth and one. Carter isn’t having the big game I thought he would. He rushed for 85 yards against a Rutgers rush-defense ranked second-to-last in the Big East. I hope his hip is okay. There’s 1:09 left in the quarter. It’s Krautman time.
We interrupt this running diary to flashback to November 18, 2010 when I said the following:
Ryan Krautman does his best Jeremy Ito impression, prompting the SU sideline to do their best Pauly D impressions. Fist pump!
Ignore the fact that I got the exact score wrong, and just let that sink in for a second because…
6:44- Krautman nails his second field goal of the day! SU takes a 13-10 lead with 1:07 left in the game (hopefully!). ‘Cuse fans are going nuts; Rutgers fans are headed for the exits. Yes, those “loyal” Rutgers fans are peacing out with over a minute to go and their team only down three. What a joke!
6:47- Brandon Sharpe sacks Savage on third and eight! I know I really got on the Syracuse O-Line today, but Rutgers was even worse. SU recorded six sacks. The last one should wrap things up!
6:48- Savage throws an incomplete pass on fourth and seventeen. Six seconds left. Is this really happening or is it a cruel joke?????
6:50- IT’S ALL OVER! THE GAME, THE BOWL DROUGHT, THE DECADE OF BEING AT OR UNDER .500! Syracuse football is
relevant once again! In Marrone we trust!
6:53- One of the best parts of watching your boys win on the road is taunting the home team’s fans on the way out of the stadium, so I yell, “Yeah Syracuse! We’re going BOWLING!” I never thought I’d get to say that. Being bowl eligible is so amazing, and the fact that the Orange beat Rutgers to clinch it makes it even better.
6:55- A “Whose House? ‘Cuse House!” chant breaks out. Consider yourselves owned, Rutgers.
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.