A quick take on Syracuse’s 42-41 loss against Northwestern:
WHAT HAPPENED: Northwestern backup quarterback Trevor Siemian found Demetrius Fields for a 9-yard touchdown with 44 seconds left to spoil Syracuse’s comeback. The game looked out of reach when Kain Colter’s 1-yard rush put Northwestern up 35-13 with 7:34 left in the third quarter. But from there, Syracuse scored four unanswered touchdowns to take a 41-35 lead with 2:40 left after Ryan Nassib found Christopher Clark for a 20-yard strike and Prince-Tyson Gulley ran in a two-point conversion. But the Orange couldn’t put a final drive together, and lost a tough opener at the Carrier Dome.
ANALYSIS: Syracuse flashed some grittiness to rally from a huge deficit, but it could’ve been a completely different outcome had it not been for some mental mistakes. It started with the special teams giving up two huge punt returns to Venric Mark, one of which he returned for the Wildcats’ first score of the game. Then, Marcus Sales dropped a pass with Syracuse deep in Northwestern territory that was picked off by Chi Chi Ariguzo that lead to another score. In the third quarter, Jerome Smith inexplicably didn’t follow up on a dropped pass in the backfield that was ruled a fumble, leading to another Northwestern touchdown. On the afternoon, the Orange was flagged 12 times for 72 yards, including a key roughing the passer call on Keon Lyn as Siemian rushed to get out of bounds, setting up the Wildcats’ go-ahead score.
HERO: Mark had a field day against Syracuse’s defense and special teams. He had two punt returns for 134 yards and a touchdown, 14 rushes for 82 yards and even added a receiving touchdown. For Syracuse, Marcus Sales had a career high 12 receptions for 129 yards plus a touchdown. Nassib also set SU single game records in passing yards (470), completions (44) and pass attempts (65) to go with four touchdowns.
ZERO: Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone took over the special teams in the offseason and saw his unit struggle. He also needs to be the one held accountable for all of the Syracuse penalties and mental mistakes. On the Northwestern side, its cornerbacks had trouble containing Syracuse’s wide receivers, getting flagged for four penalties on deep balls which allowed Syracuse to get back into the game.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange travel to MetLife Stadium to take on No. 1 USC in the New York’s College Classic on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 p.m.Wesley Cheng