Orange Watch is going to be away on assignment until the eve of the season opener against Northwestern Sept. 1. So, with one final opportunity, here goes on how we forecast the 2012 football season to play out, understanding the many variables that are yet to come. This is Part II. Check out Part I.
If you’ve ever wanted to see your former longtime coach on the north side opponent’s bench in the Dome, the Connecticut game provides that opportunity in the second Friday Night national TV (exposure) game in a 14 day period.
To put it simply, the season to beat good guy but now foe Paul Pasqualoni is this one, and as two coaches in Syracuse football history shake hands at midfield close to midnight on Oct. 19, SU is sitting at 5-2. Sound familiar?
The theme over the next two weeks on the road against South Florida and Cincinnati will also turn out to be a familiar one this fall in league games as the visitor. Tough games against conference rivals wanting to send the ‘Cuse packing to the ACC with defeats, and the Bulls and Bearcats do exactly just that, bringing a lot of angst to Orange Nation with one final chance to watch the team at home.
Pre-season favorite Louisville comes strutting into the Dome in week 11, the Cards a conference puzzle that Marrone and company have yet to solve. They’ll come close this time with a loyal and rabid crowd following the lead of the new building-wide ribbon board and LED video screens scattered throughout egging everyone to be vocal, but close equals a three-game losing streak with a trip out to (new) SEC country up next.
Last winter, fast approaching Feb. 1 and stuck in the middle of conference realignment wars in which they had been a willing participant, Daryl Gross and scheduling lieutenant Herm Frazier still needed a 12th game to wrap up this year’s schedule, and after failing to find any FBS takers to come to Syracuse, reluctantly started exploring their road game options.
Frazier, not only sports a 1976 Olympic Gold medal and countless professional awards on his illustrious track and field and subsequent athletic administration career list of achievements, but he’s also armed with so many connections in the business that he dialed longtime colleague Mike Alden from their days at Arizona State.
The current Missouri AD wanted a seventh home game against a FBS program for the first time at the school since 1987 (ironically SU won at Mizzou in ’87 24-13 on route to going unbeaten), so a one-year deal was struck to fill out the SU schedule.
When Frazier and Alden shake hands at 86-year old Faurot Field after the game the week before Thanksgiving, the Orange will have dropped to under .500 and out of bowl eligibility facing a must-win with one game to play.
The last time Syracuse played at South Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, the weekend ended with a major change in the course of Orange football history.
SU lost (34-24) the second-to-last game of the 2004 season that November 13 afternoon to a 1-8 Temple squad under Bobby Wallace that it had no business losing to, falling to 5-5 and seemingly out of a bowl game. Pasqualoni couldn’t even muster a look at AD Jake Crouthamel as he strode just a few feet past him to the locker room tunnel.
When the team returned to Syracuse, relatively new chancellor Nancy Cantor wasn’t a happy camper. Although SU famously upset Boston College two weeks later behind Diamond Ferri’s two-way performance heroics and made a bowl game in which they lost 51-14, and Cantor, with Crouthamel at her side, infamously announced her ”intention” was to retain Coach P for 2005 and beyond, both men would instead be out of their positions by the end of the year.
This time around, the Orange will knock off the Dad of one of their teammates, former SU assistant Steve Addazio the Owls second-year rebel rousing coach. The come from behind four point victory on a late drive touchdown will propel the 6-6 ‘Cuse back into a bowl game, albeit with no favors from the conference office in Providence.
Syracuse won’t be sent back to the alumni-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium for its bowl reward, but instead will get shipped to the BBVA Compass Bowl at Birmingham’s well worn Legion Field against a 6-6 Tennessee team on the unfriendly college football date of Sat. Jan. 5, after four of the five BCS games have already been played.
In front of an announced “crowd” of 37,828, SU hangs on to nip the Volunteers 30-28 after Ross Krautman’s 33-yard FG with 4:11 left stands up as the winning margin following a final two minute Orange “D” stop on a fourth down play by the Vols with no timeouts remaining for either team.
A 7-6 finish, and off to the ACC Atlantic Division.
Check out Part I of Brad Bierman’s predictions.Brad Bierman