PHILADELPHIA — A quick take on Syracuse’s 38-20 win against Temple on a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend Friday afternoon in front of 22, 317 at Lincoln Financial Field. The game marked both the regular season finale for this bowl-bound team, and also SU’s last Big East football game going back to a 31-27 victory at Pittsburgh on Oct. 19, 1991.
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange (7-5) broke open a back and forth game on their first possession of the 4th quarter, culminating in a Prince-Tyson Gulley 4-yard TD run to give the Orange an 11-point lead over the Owls (4-7) with 13:27 to play. The ‘Cuse added to that advantage with a late defensive score by cornerback Keon Lyn.
ANALYSIS: If it wasn’t for those old bugaboos turnovers (2) and penalties (10), this game might have been over before the 4th quarter. But under the steady guidance of Ryan Nassib (215 yards passing) in his regular season finale in front of hometown area family and friends, and a strong rushing game keyed by Jerome Smith, Gulley,and sophomore Adonis Ameen-Moore who combined for 236 yards on the ground, the Orange had too much offense for the Owls.
HERO: Ameen-Moore. The sophomore from Denver spelled a still sore Smith and Gulley, rushing for a career-high 57 yards and two scores. That included a powerful 18 yard run for a TD just before halftime that gave the Orange a four point lead at intermission.
ZERO: The Orange secondary with a caveat. It bent, allowing a couple of long passes by Temple QB Juice Granger and a 12 yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter. But the unit finished strong, including a key fourth quarter sack of Granger by safety Durell Eskridge, and Lyn’s 31-yard interception return for a TD to seal the win with 2:37 to play. It was one of two picks Lyn had in the game.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange will wait to see what bowl game they are headed to once the Big East season is complete. Presumably, the Orange will find themselves in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium for the second time in three seasons against a Big XII opponent. That game is Sat. Dec. 29 at 3:15 pm.Brad Bierman (Follow on Twitter @BradBierman)