EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A quick take on Syracuse’s 42-29 loss against USC:
WHAT HAPPENED: Syracuse was thinking upset after it had turned a 14-3 halftime deficit into a 21-16 game with 3:42 left in the third quarter. But Robert Woods responded, torching the Orange in the fourth quarter. He started by returning a punt 31 yards to set up a touchdown to give USC a 28-16 lead with 14:26 left. On Southern California’s ensuing possession, Woods took a reverse and ran it 76 yards to the SU four yard line. Two plays later, Marqise Lee shook four Syracuse tackles and waltzed into the end zone, giving USC a 35-16 lead, and complete control of the game.
ANALYSIS: If there was such a thing as a moral victory in a loss, this would be it. Syracuse, deemed a 25.5 underdog to start the game, hung with USC until the fourth quarter, trailing by just five. Its defense mostly contained the Trojans, holding them scoreless in the first quarter and to just 14 points in the first half. Unlike last week, the offense was the culprit, not scoring until the end of the second quarter. In the end, USC asserted its superiority, but there was plenty of positives to take away.
HERO: Matt Barkley threw five touchdown passes against Syracuse in Los Angeles last year, and threw six on Saturday. He added 187 passing yards, and easily found his favorite target, Woods, who chipped in 93 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
ZERO: The Syracuse support was mediocre for what was billed as a “home” game. The final attendance at MetLife Stadium was 39,507, but more than half were USC fans. When Syracuse ran on the field for the first time, there were more boos than cheers. So much for being “New York’s College Team.” Another zero goes to the weather, which caused a 1 hour and 9 minute rain delay at halftime, forcing fans to leave their seats.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Orange return home to the Carrier Dome to play Stony Brook on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m.