A quick take on Syracuse’s 27–26 win against Villanova in the 2014 season opener:
WHAT HAPPENED: SU kicker Riley Dixon threw the game-winning touchdown on a jump pass to Kendall Moore on a fake field goal in double-overtime, and Syracuse stuffed a potential game-winning two-point conversion on Villanova’s ensuing drive, as the Orange escaped a humiliating loss to an FCS team. The Wildcats appeared to have the game in hand with 12 seconds left in regulation, but Villanova kicker Chris Gough missed a 25-yard field goal to send the game to a fifth period. Both ultimately teams settled for field goals in the extra frame, though the Orange appeared poised to win in the first overtime. But Adonis Ameen-Moore was stuffed on first and second down inside the five yard line, and Syracuse was forced to settle for a field goal to send it to a second overtime.
ANALYSIS: Well this is certainly not how the Orange wanted to start the season. Underdog Villanova outplayed the Orange, and was only a field goal away from ending SU’s 12-game win streak against FCS opponents. Syracuse was outgained 389 to 320, and also was badly dominated in the time of possession category 37:48 to 22:12. Simply put, the Orange is lucky to walk away with a win minus its starting quarterback (more on that below) and a porous defense that couldn’t stop the run.
HERO: Villanova quarterback John Robertson hurt the Orange as much with his legs as he did with his arm. He finished with 199 yards and a touchdown through the air, but repeatedly gained large chucks of yards on scrambles, amassing 115 yards on 34 carries. Much like last year against Georgia Tech, the Orange defense looked lost attempting to stop a mobile quarterback.
ZERO: The obvious choice is Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt, who was ejected for punching Nova linebacker Dillon Lucas after Lucas delivered what appeared to be a late hit in the first half. That forced second string QB Austin Wilson into action, and while Wilson led SU on a touchdown drive in his first series at the helm, he struggled the rest of the way, as did the rest of the offense. Hunt needs to display significantly better poise and maturity in the future.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse heads into a bye week before it heads to Mount Pleasant, MI to take on Central Michigan on Sept. 13 at noon. TV: ESPNU.