As we dubbed this year’s Pittsburgh game in the pre-season the “ACC Exit Bowl” with the two programs future football crossover division partners in the ACC, by luck of the scheduling draw the remaining six league games this season are against the Big East teams the Orange will say goodbye to as conference brethren, beginning Saturday afternoon at Rutgers.
And who knows? The Orange may end up facing one of these former “rivals” in a non-conference game somewhere down the road in future seasons.
The ‘Cuse will need four non ACC games annually beginning next year (Penn State at MetLife Stadium and at Northwestern are booked for 2013, two other games have yet to be announced), and the Big East offers teams in close proximity to central New York for a home-and-home series.
For now, we’ll take a look at the history, some of it brief, of the Orange against its lame duck opponents (in schedule order) with a guaranteed BCS bowl bid up for grabs.
Rutgers-With West Virginia’s departure to the Big XII, Pitt, Rutgers (and Syracuse) are the longest remaining consecutive members of the league, the only opponents SU has faced in every Big East football season dating back to the 1991 debut.
This was a lopsided series throughout the ‘90s with first the great 1992 team putting up 50 against the Knights, and in Donovan McNabb’s four seasons ending in ’98 the finals were 27-17, 42-0, 50-3, and 70-14!
Then the 1999 Orange squad, which would eventually beat SEC foe Kentucky in the Music City Bowl, was shocked by the 0-9 Knights in OT in New Jersey, and the series has been all even at 6-6 since, making for one final bragging rights game on Saturday.
Connecticut-There’s only been a coach with Syracuse connections on the other side of the field since these teams began playing in 2004, a Paul Pasqualoni-led Syracuse victory that season over one-time Orange backup QB Randy Edsall (1979).
Greg Robinson’s first of only three Big East wins came against Connecticut in ‘06, and surprisingly Doug Marrone is 0-3 against UConn, so he’ll hope for another stout Friday night Dome performance on Oct. 19 against the Pasqualoni-led Huskies.
South Florida-The talent differential between these two programs was on vast display in the first five games of the series dating back to 2005, before the breakthrough 13-6 victory in Tampa two seasons back to end the five year winless streak that had the Bulls winning by a cumulative margin of 35-10.
SU stopped USF QB B.J. Daniels in 2010, and will look to do the same in a couple of weeks.
Cincinnati-These two programs knew each other pretty well before they began meeting annually in 2004, a year ahead of the other mid-decade newcomers that replaced Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech, having met in two home-and-home series in the 90s.
Like with South Florida, the Bearcats dominated the Orange until the road win in 2010, only the second win against UC in eight years.
Louisville-For some strange reason Greg Robinson had the Cards number in his four seasons, winning twice including, at the time, the biggest upset ever against the point spread (-36.5) a 38-35 victory at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 2007.
For some equally strange reason, Doug Marrone squads have yet to solve the Ville in three games, and will look to take down the pre-season favorite in the home Dome finale.
Temple-We chronicled the historic 2004 Temple game in the pre-season, a 10-point upset loss to a one-win Owls team that so infuriated relatively new chancellor Nancy Cantor that both coach Pasqualoni and longtime AD Jake Crouthamel would be out of their positions by the end of that calendar year.
Besides that ’04 bomb, the only other loss to the Owls through their entire first conference go-round was in 2002, 17-16 at old Veterans Stadium on a missed extra point, but two losses to Temple in three seasons after 11-straight wins was a sign of the program’s decline at the end of the Coach P era.
Now it will be at South Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field that SU’s 22-year Big East football era comes to an end Thanksgiving weekend.Brad Bierman (Follow on Twitter @BradBierman)