Start spreading the news – Syracuse football is back.
Yes, indeed, the neon lights are shining brightly on Broadway after the Orange, New York state’s college team, defeated the Kansas State Wildcats, 36-34 in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
Syracuse (8-5) put on quite a show in the House That Ruth Built in front of 38, 274 fans, mostly clad in orange. The offense racked up a SU bowl record 498 yards.
Senior running back Delone Carter led the charge, rushing for 198 yards on 28 carries and reached pay dirt twice. Junior wide receiver Marcus Sales snagged five passes for a career-best 178 yards and a bowl record three TDs. Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing.
SU improved its overall bowl record to 12-9-1. It marks the first bowl victory for the Orange since it captured the Insight.com Bowl title with a 26-3 win against K-State in 2001.
“I almost broke down and fell to my knees,” second-year head coach Doug Marrone who grew up minutes from Yankee Stadium said following the win. “I’m just a simple kid from the Bronx. This is a dream come true for me.”
It’s also a dream come true for Syracuse fans who have had to endure a nightmarish program for the past six years. The win has put Syracuse back on the football map.
Former head coach Dick MacPherson has said in the past that the Cherry Bowl in 1985 laid the foundation for the great teams in the late 80s and 90s, the glory days of SU football.
That very same guy named Marrone was a senior on that 1985 team. Despite the loss in the Cherry Bowl, SUs first bowl appearance since the 1979 Independence Bowl, MacPherson truly believes that that one game jump-started the SU program.
“At the beginning of the year we sit down and set our goals,” Marrone said. “We wanted to have a winning season and we wanted to get to a bowl game. We not only wanted to get to a bowl game, but we wanted to win it. Obviously, winning this game is good for our future from a recruiting standpoint.”
While the states of New Jersey and Connecticut are two key areas in which coaches focus on recruits, it’s New York state, primarily, the city and Long Island where Marrone and the coaching staff need to win the recruiting wars in order to continue to build the program.
The win was undoubtedly impressive. Area high school hotshots have to be drooling at the opportunity to play for Marrone, the former offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.
With the game also being televised nationally on ESPN, certainly those players whom ‘Cuse has been courting, have got to be leaning toward the hill after the win. And what parent wouldn’t want to send their kid to a school that prides itself not only on athletics, but academics.
“We talk about core values,” Marrone said. “And we instill those core values in our players. We’ve won battles off the field, and now we are winning them on the field.”
That they are.
Judy Salamone is a special contributor for The Juice Online.Judy Salamone