A quick take on Syracuse’s inspired effort at times, but non-surprising 45-14 defeat against No. 17 Florida State Saturday evening in the regular season home finale at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: Florida State (8-3, 4-3) recorded its fourth straight ACC win over the Orange in as many seasons, nearly matching the 47-14 average FSU has recorded in those three other conference wins, as the Seminoles wore down an injured SU defense in the second half to win going away. The loss dropped the Syracuse record to 4-7, 2-5, ending any thoughts of a bowl game invitation for the third straight season.
ANALYSIS: When you only have a few more first downs (13) than punts (10), you know it’s going to be a long game against a team with better starting talent on both sides of the ball. The ‘Cuse gamely did its best in trying to contain the Seminoles main weapons, quarterback Deondre Francois (315 yards passing and two scores) and running back Dalvin Cook with many second and third team defensive players, but the ‘Noles offense was methodical and efficient in its three second half scoring drives.
HERO: FSU’s junior tailback Cook, a likely top ten NFL draft pick next spring, broke the school’s career rushing record (Warrick Dunn) in the first quarter, eventually going over the 4,000 career mark, finishing with 225 yards on the Dome carpet and matching his career high with four smooth touchdown runs in and around the ‘Cuse defense.
ZERO: A banged up offensive line, and, of course, minus starting quarterback Eric Dungey, offensive production, especially a rushing attack, was going to be challenging against a team as talented as Florida State,and SU finished with just 29 yards on the ground. Zack Mahoney did have one bright moment when he got the Orange on the board with a 46 yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to a leaping Amba Etta-Tawo on the last play of the first half.
WHAT’S NEXT:Syracuse ends its regular season, and the first under Dino Babers, traveling to Pittsburgh (7-4, 4-3) next Sat., Nov. 26. The Orange have only won twice in the last 14 games in this series, and only once (2001) at Heinz Field. The Panthers demolished Duke 56-14 Sat.afternoon at Pittsburgh. Game Time: 12:30 p.m. ET /TV: ACC Network).