A quick take on Syracuse’s 37-36 dramatic come from behind win over USF in Tampa Bay on Saturday evening:
WHAT HAPPENED: SU quarterback Ryan Nassib found receiver Alec Lemon with three seconds left for a touchdown as Syracuse came from 20 points down to defeat South Florida. Though SU scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, and took a brief 24-23 lead, USF rallied and seemed in control late in the fourth quarter after Maikon Bonani’s 47 yard field goal put USF up 36-31 with 1:23 left. But Nassib—needing 75 yards and not having any timeouts—found Marcus Sales three times on the ensuing drive, including a 19 yard strike to put the ball at the 1 yard line after Syracuse had committed a pair of penalties. That set up the dramatic go ahead score. It capped one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent Syracuse football history, as the Orange trailed 23-3 at half.
ANALYSIS: It was truly a tale of two halves. Syracuse could do little right in the first half as USF imposed its will on the beleaguered SU defense. BJ Daniels, a pest for SU during his career, was once again difficult to stop as he accounted for 183 yards over the air and 134 rushing yards. But credit the Orange for staying in this game and remaining mentally tough. The Orange spent most of the first half establishing their run game, and adjusted in the second half to attack through the air. Nassib threw a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter, and Lemon took a reserve for the third touchdown, as Syracuse took the lead. Toughness was again a factor for Syracuse as they had to play catchup after trailing 33-24 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. It’s only the second time the Orange have beaten the Bulls since USF joined the Big East, and is a big step toward making a bowl game in year 4 of the Doug Marrone era.
HERO: Marcus Sales had nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Jerome Smith once again went over 100 yards with a 127 yard performance. As for USF, besides Daniels, Lindsey Lamar rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown. Bonani finished 5 for 5 in kicks, and accounted for 18 points.
ZERO: The Syracuse defense had come in not allowing any opponents this season to rush for more than 100 yards, and had given up just 212 rushing yards in its last four games. That streak came to an unceremonious end—in the first half—as USF torched the Orange for 369 yards on the ground. Then again, neither defense played particularly well as the teams combined for more than 1,000 yards (SU with 520, USF with 552). USF becomes the first team this season to lose a game in which it blew a halftime lead of at least 20 points.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange play at Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 2 at noon. TV: Big East Network/ESPN3.Wesley Cheng