A quick take on Syracuse’s 33-20 loss to Pittsburgh:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange turned the ball over six times, the most crucial coming on a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Pittsburgh’s Antwuan Reed that gave the Panthers a 33-20 lead with 2:34 to play. Pittsburgh jumped out to a lightning-quick 10-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game and never looked back. This is the most forced turnovers by the Panthers since December 2008.
When Chandler Jones intercepted QB Tino Sunseri in the third quarter, it was the first time since the West Virginia game that the Orange converted a turnover into points. The five straight losses to end the season is the worst losing streak of the Marrone era. Also of note, is the fact that the Orange was flagged 10 times for 95 yards, 90 of those penalty yards coming in the first half.
ANALYSIS: The loss completed a horrible collapse for the Orange to finish the year. Once upon a time, Syracuse was 5-2 and on top of the Big East after defeating then-No. 11 West Virginia on Oct. 21. Since then, nothing has gone right for the Orange. Gone is the excitement from last year’s Pinstripe Bowl win. It’s clear the Orange took a step back with this season. Now, Syracuse will have all off-season to think about what they could’ve done differently since at 5-7 they will not qualify for a bowl game.
HERO: If there was any bright spot in this game, it was Jerome Smith. Smith ran for 56 hard-earned yards and a bull-dozing touchdown with 12:03 in the third quarter that closed the gap to 20-17. Honorable mention goes to DE Chandler Jones, who had an interception return for 32 yards that set up the Smith run.
ZERO: There is just no way around this one. Nassib was responsible for four of Syracuse’s six turnovers. After falling behind 7-0 early in the first quarter, Nassib was picked off on the next drive by Brandon Lindsey. The pick eventually led to a 37-yard field goal by Kevin Harper and a lead the Panthers would never relinquish. The key turnover came on the Orange’s most crucial drive. Credit Lindsey again, who sacked Nassib and popped the ball high into the air. Antwuan Reed caught it and ran it back 20 yards for the score.