A quick take on Syracuse’s impressive 40-3 domination against Central Michigan before a decent-sized crowd at 30,000-seat Kelly/Shorts Stadium, on an overcast and windy, low-mid 50’s°, mid-September afternoon at Mount Pleasant, Mich.:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange went to a 2-0 record to begin a season for the first time since 2011 (beat Wake Forest and Rhode Island), and for just the second time since 1999 (when SU also beat CMU), by breaking the game open in the third quarter. The ‘Cuse, a five point favorite at kickoff and wearing a first-of-its-kind, all-white uniform including a white helmet for the first time since 1976, led 17-3 at halftime, and extended the lead with a defensive safety and two Terrel Hunt short TD runs in the third quarter. The safety was highlighted by LB Cam Lynch’s quarterback pursuit, while the Orange defense also scored a TD on a Marquez Hodge 36 yard fumble return in the second quarter, the fumble caused by DT Eric Crume’s tackle, and the unit was relentless all day.
ANALYSIS: Pressure, pressure, pressure. That was the game plan by the Orange “D” against Chips QB Cooper Rush. Playing without top RB Thomas Rawls who was held out of the game for undisclosed reasons by Coach Dan Enos, the ‘Cuse stuffed the CMU running game (34 yards total) and came after Rush on seemingly every play, holding Central Michigan (2-1) to 217 yards of total offense (167 before mop-up time). Offensively, Hunt commanded the Orange effectively, handing off to five different tailbacks, and finding 12 different receivers in mixing up the tempo.
HERO: Besides Hunt, who theoretically made his season debut with strong leadership and went a steady 20/30 for 175 yards and one TD in the air, and had 13 carries for 92 yards and three scores on the ground, freshman RB Erv Phillips turned heads with a breakout seven carries for 50 yards on a third quarter scoring drive (9/55 overall), complimenting the strong 289 yard, five-back rush attack.
ZERO: Unforced errors caused by nine penalties, missed tackles when the game was still competitive, and two missed field goals by Ryan Norton, both with the wind at his back and between the hash marks. The first, a 42 yarder on the Orange’s first drive of the game, the latter from 45 yards out when the game was already decided with 6:58 to play. Early on, the Orange secondary seemed to give up too much space in coverage to CMU receivers, but it became a moot point when Syracuse went up by 30 points in the third quarter.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse goes for a 3-0 start for only the fifth time since 1967, hosting longtime rival Maryland (2-1) next Saturday, Sept. 20. SU beat UM in ACC play last year 20-3 at College Park, with the Terps now in their debut Big Ten season. Former Orange player and assistant coach Randy Edsell will return to the Dome for the fifth time as an opposing head coach, first with UConn and now the Terps. Maryland fell to West Virginia 40-37 Saturday for its first loss. Game Time: 12:30 p.m. ET / TV-Online: ACCN-ESPN3 (subject to blackout).