Syracuse, N.Y. – A quick take on Syracuse’s impressive effort, but tough-to-swallow, 34-24 loss to No. 8 LSU in front of a rocking Dome crowd of 43,101 Saturday afternoon:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange turned in a more than respectable performance into the fourth quarter, creeping back to within seven points with 12:06 to play on a Zack Mahoney two yard touchdown pass to Ben Lewis, but the relentless Tigers (3-0, 2-0) answered with an impressive six play drive ending with an 11 yard touchdown pass from Brandon Harris to Malachi Dupre to put LSU back up by 14, and SU (3-1, 1-0) was on its way to losing for the first time this season.
ANALYSIS: The ‘Cuse certainly had its chances, especially in the first half to score more than three points, but backup quarterback Mahoney, who was serviceable in his first collegiate start (16 for 38 – 154 yards passing with three touchdowns, and 48 yards rushing to lead the team), couldn’t get the Orange in the end zone until the second half, and by then the Tigers offense was in full gear. LSU scored 17 third quarter points, and the teams traded scoring drives in the final quarter before LSU added one final field goal, and the Orange a late scoring pass for the final ten point difference. In a fairly even game statistically, except for the rushing totals and the game breaking abilities of LSU tailback Leonard Fournette, the Orange stood tall against a formidable challenge of a strong SEC team, and supported by the largest crowd of the season, gave a great effort.
HERO: There’s a reason why Fournette is the current Heisman Trophy favorite, he’s a difference maker and it was demonstrated time and again on the Dome’s flat fast track surface. The sophomore finished with 244 yards gained on the ground on 26 carries, making the quick seven yard gains on first down look just as easy as his 62 yard waltz for a score, and the 87 yard run he had called back also in the third quarter due to a motion penalty.
ZERO: Sure, there’s nit picking on both sides of the ball, the Orange secondary struggled giving up some big plays, Fournette running untouched at times, Mahoney struggling with his passes, and a missed field goal by Ryan Norton as the first half ended, but this was an impressive attempt for an upset by a team playing with its fourth quarterback for the second straight season against a top ranked team that put up 45 points on Auburn a week ago, so we’ll temper the negative for this week.
WHAT’S NEXT: A week off, after four straight games at home to begin a season for the first time since 1935. Syracuse will play its first road game on Sat., Oct. 10 against South Florida at Tampa. The Bulls, former Big East rivals, are 1-2 and have the week off. USF hosts Memphis next Friday evening. Time/TV: Scheduled to be announced on Monday Sept. 28 by the American Athletic Conference.
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