Syracuse, N.Y. – A quick take on Syracuse’s 38-20 loss to Florida State on Homecoming weekend at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon in front of a noisy, but disappointing in size, announced crowd of 43,295:
WHAT HAPPENED: The top-ranked Seminoles played the part from start to finish, methodically marching down the field scoring on the first drive of the game in under four minutes, and the they were off running. FSU (6-0, 4-0) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 22 games behind the expert direction of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston who took what the Orange (2-4, 0-2) defense gave him, and distributed the wealth to the top level talent he has everywhere he turns. Winston finished with 332 yards of total offense. As expected, the Orange employed the two quarterback platoon of Austin Wilson, who started and finished the first half, and true freshman AJ Long who played the majority of snaps overall, and Long’s first big moment came when he hurled a beautiful 22 yard scoring strike to fellow frosh Steve Ishmael for the first career touchdown for both in the third quarter, and they connected again in the fourth quarter to round out the Orange scoring. The Cuse has now dropped four straight after winning the first two games of the season, but played respectably at times against one of the better teams in the country.
ANALYSIS: What was going on regarding the first Syracuse possession of the second half? Long was back in to begin the third quarter with the Orange down 24-6. First, a predictable run, then a short pass for three on second down, then a long pass incomplete for a three and out. The Noles promptly went down the field and scored to go up by 25 midway through the quarter, and that was that for an upset bid.
HERO: The 6’4″ Winston is a bull to bring down, and he was cool and calm while searching out his wide receivers, including his great tight end Nick O’Leary (the grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus who was in attendance) who hauled in eight passes including a touchdown dart from Winston late in the second quarter. Winston was 30 of 36 in the air for 315 yards, hitting seven different receivers. Orange wide receiver Ishmael had a breakout game with two scores, including a nice run after the catch for a 35 yard touchdown with 10:37 left.
ZERO: Too many missed opportunities on the day if you’re looking to knock off No. 1. Field goals instead of scoring in the red zone in the first half hurt, as did failing to capitalize after forcing FSU turnovers deep in the Seminoles own territory in the first 30 minutes. Also, for Homecoming weekend, too many empty seats in the Dome. We all know the various reasons why this has become a sore spot for not only the athletic department and hardcore fans alike, but seemingly nothing except consistent winning is going to bring back “real” crowds of 45,000 plus.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse plays just its second true road game of the season when it travels to Winston-Salem, N.C. to take on Wake Forest, next Saturday Oct. 18. SU won in the Dome last season 13-0. Wake (2-4, 0-2), under first year coach Dave Clawson, did not play this week. Game Time 12:00 p.m. ET / TV-Online: ACC Regional Sports Networks-ACC Digital Network.