A quick take on Syracuse’s eventual 41-17 rout over Central Michigan Saturday afternoon/evening in front of an announced crowd of 33,004 at the hot and humid Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: The Orange (2-1), after struggling with some first half turnovers, took a 24-17 lead at halftime, and were impressive offensively with some long yardage drives against the CMU (2-1) defense in the third quarter to blow the game open. SU scored 31 consecutive points featuring long runs by sophomore RB Moe Neal (71 yards) and QB Eric Dungey (74 yards), respectively, in each of the second half touchdown drives, the biggest offensive plays of the young season. The defense was stout in the second half holding the Chips scoreless.
ANALYSIS: Once the ‘Cuse started protecting the ball and went up seven at the half, it stopped Central Michigan on its first drive after receiving the second half kickoff, then the SU offense promptly went 90 yards in 1:04 to go up 14, and a tired CMU defense never recovered. The Orange also added a two play, 80 yard drive in just 31 seconds, and the second of two Cole Murphy field goals rounded out the scoring blitz and allowed for liberal fourth quarter substitutions by both sides. Dungey took over the game directing the 31 straight point outburst over the second and third quarters, and finished with 279 yards passing and a team leading 109 yards on the ground accounting for three scores. Special teams also stood out. Sophomore punter Sterling Hofrichter continued to excel (two boots over 60 yards pinning CMU deep), and despite the senior Murphy’s two FGs, he continued to look up and down, with a couple of kickoffs going out of bounds, and banging a PAT through after hitting the right upright. Sophomore WR and return specialist Sean Riley dazzled to the tune of 268 yards in kickoff and punt returns, plus caught a 44 yard pass in the second quarter, and ran 41 yards on an inside rushing play in the third quarter.
HEROES: The Syracuse defense. The unit gave up zero points to Central Michigan in the second half, got a pick six from sophomore DB Evan Foster on a 24 yard TD return late in the first quarter, and was flying all over the field in holding CMU to 47 yards rushing through three quarters before the reserve players got repetitions.
ZERO: A couple of sloppy first half penalties and turnovers delayed the offense getting in sync until midway through the second quarter, and a distressing nine yellow flags overall is something the coaching staff will again need to address this week.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse goes on the road for the first time this season, and it’s Saturday night in “Death Valley” – LSU style, at 102,321 seat Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La. This game will complete the 2015 Dome game in the home-and-home series, and SU might find an angry bunch of purple and gold clad opponents. The No. 11/12 Tigers (2-1, 0-1) were blitzed 37-7 at Mississippi State Saturday night in their SEC opener. Game Time: 7:00 p.m. ET / TV: ESPN2.