Here are 10 things we learned from Syracuse’s 45-26 upset of previously undefeated No. 9 Louisville on Saturday afternoon:
1. You have to think that Syracuse will be bowling this season. I’m not saying that it will happen against Missouri, who hung with No. 7 Florida on Nov. 3 in a 14-7 loss, especially because it’s an away game. But SU’s season finale against Temple should do it. The Owls have lost four straight since opening its Big East schedule with wins over Connecticut and USF (who are at the bottom of the Big East). But, then again, as SU has proven this season, they can beat, and lose to, anyone.
2. What an image hit for the Big East. Louisville claimed to have a chip on its shoulder because they were not mentioned in the National Title conversation despite being undefeated. Well, now we know why. Playing on ABC, the Cardinals were completely helpless against a team that is bolting for the ACC. The Big East once had three undefeated teams. Thanks to SU and the MAC, that’s no more.
3. I have two game balls to give out, the first being to Alec Lemon. He was open all afternoon, and finished with 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It shows the depth of the receiving core. Louisville was keying in on Marcus Sales (2 receptions, 10 yards), leaving Lemon to have a field day.
4. The second goes to the offensive line. Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith had all sorts of holes to run through, and the Orange punished the Cardinals for 278 on the ground. Simply put, the Orange were more physical.
5. As the old saying goes, if you don’t make mistakes, you usually win the game. Well, the Orange didn’t turn the ball over a single time while Louisville committed two turnovers. Syracuse is 3-0 on the season when they don’t commit a turnover. It’s been a coulda-shoulda-woulda season for Syracuse. They haven’t been outmatched in a single game, and their biggest opponent has been themselves. This team could easily be at eight wins right now.
6. With that win, Doug Marrone is officially off the hot seat, if he was ever on it. Even if the Orange lose the last two games of the season (they won’t), a win like that on network television will give plenty of good will to the old ball coach. Of course, a bowl game would cement a nice contract extension (Marrone’s contract runs through next season).
7. Props to linebacker Lewellyn Coker! The linebacker, who lined up as a fullback, caught a spinning, bobbled, 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib with 11:14 in the fourth qarter for SU’s final score of the game.
8. Give the Syracuse defense a lot of credit. Although the Orange gave up 472 yards to the Cardinals, much of that came in the second half with the game out of reach. Holding the Cardinals to 46 rushing yards in the game and 13 points in the first half was impressive.
9. Interesting sound bite from Charlie Strong after the game: “I’m very embarrassed today for our program.” Pardon the horrible pun, but that’s a little strong, isn’t it? As a Syracuse fan, does anyone want to take exception to that comment? Maybe a loss like this under the He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named era, this would be warranted, but Syracuse is a team that is, at the very least, competitive.
10. Hats off also to Nassib, who completed a heck of a career at the Carrier Dome. He passed Donovan McNabb to move into second place all time on the SU passing list. He also set a Big East record with 738 career completions and now owns the single season record for total offense at SU (3,114).