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Cue The Crying Child

The last crying child of the year. Even I'm getting a little misty. False.
Goodbye Greg.

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Cincinnati Quick Predictions

A Bearcat is not a real thing.
Syracuse has had an interesting couple of weeks in terms of football. They get shelled by UConn at home, they fire Greg Robinson, and they go out and beat Notre Dame in South Bend. Simply a whirlwind end to a season full of disappointment and maybe a little redemption.

Syracuse will enter Cincinnati with the clear intention of preventing the Bearcats from representing the Big East in the BCS. It has been decreed. Also, for Greg to end his coaching career at Syracuse with a win. Cincinnati has won its last four games; wins over then #23 USF, #25 West Virginia, Louisville, and #20 Pittsburgh. They are undefeated at home and have the overall record of 9-2, 5-1 in the Big East with their lone loss to Connecticut at the Rent. This is a team that is fast and powerful. Their quarterback, Tony Pike is a stud with 1788 yards, 15 TD, and only three interceptions. This is a dangerously offensive team that also has quite a nice defense. Although one of their stars recently tore his ACL and will be done for the year, this is a defense that could stifle Syracuse’s offensive abilities and dreams for glory in their last outing of the year. While I would love to say that Syracuse will do it, I just feel like the probability of lightening striking twice this late in the year is a tall order for even these hard working kids. I’m picking Cincy over the Orange 37 to 20.

It should be an entertaining game with all of these match-ups, but it looks like it is Cincinnati’s BCS Bowl to lose. Syracuse will probably just not have the defensive goods like they did in South Bend to stop another beast of a team. Plus, Cincinnati is much better than Notre Dame, despite the fact that this program is not as storied as ND. Either way, congratulations and good luck to the seniors that will no longer don the Orange uniform.

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Virginia - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: After Kansas, this should be a cake walk.

This is certainly not the Virginia team that Syracuse faced last season in Virginia. The Cavaliers already have one loss on the year, their last game at home versus Liberty. Yes, Liberty. They lost 86 to 82 at home to an inferior opponent. Therefore, one would guess that Virginia will be easy pickings for Syracuse at home in the Carrier Dome. However, as we saw in the Richmond game, Syracuse knowing they are playing an inferior opponent will not come out with a standard level of intensity needed to finish off even the easiest of opponents. Syracuse could get fits from Sylven Landesberg, who is averaging 22 points per game and is shooting 37.5% from long range. However, if the man defense is working like it did against Kansas for the second half, Syracuse will be able to shut him down and take advantage from Onuaku and some hot shooting from one of any of Syracuse’s long range threats. This should be an easy one for the Orange if all things that should happen do. I will be in the Carrier Dome tonight for the game so they better not play terribly. I’m picking Syracuse over Virginia by 16.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, from your friends at Orange::44.

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Syracuse: Best Week Ever Edition

Now that was a big time shot!
If you are a Syracuse fan you have been celebrating and razzing your fellow sports fans since Saturday. Syracuse beats Notre Dame in football in South Bend on Sunday, Tuesday they beat #18 Florida in basketball, and last night the defeated #23 Kansas, the defending NCAA Champions in overtime. So I ask you, is this the best week for Syracuse sports in the last five years overall? Discuss.

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How the hell does Flynn do it?!
Let me be crystal clear; we should not have won this game. Syracuse played terrible defense for a good 3/4 of the game and gave up the ball quite a bit. However, it just goes to show you that if you get hot on offense, make some stops on defense, and believe you can win, a lot of things are possible. Syracuse beats defending National Champions Kansas in overtime 89 to 81.

Your leading scorer was again Jonny Flynn. He made 25 points including the game tying three pointer with less than ten second remaining in regulation. How awesome is Jonny Flynn? That made three at the end of regulation was a shot that Boeheim would have trusted him to take last year but he would not have made it. This year, well as my good friend Watson would say; RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES. Shocking, Flynn lead the Orange in turnovers with five, including the critical turnover with less than a minute remaining in regulation. However, the shot and offense clearly made up for it. He is your CBE Classic MVP.

Eric Devendorf earned second place in points with 20. Devendorf in this game clearly could not slice the lane like he is used to. He ran into a brick wall of Kansas defenders and coughed up the ball three times. He also went 3-7 from long range. He did end up with 20 so not too many complaints, but it was an ugly 20 points.

Arinze Onuaku was also an unsung hero of the game with 19 points. He made eight of ten field goals and amazingly hit three of three free throws. He also had a key basket in the overtime to give Syracuse the lead and keep it in overtime. Onuaku also had four blocks and 12 rebounds which helped when Syracuse was stalling on defense and offense.

Paul Harris, named to the CBE Classic tournament team, had 14 points and 14 rebounds. An outstanding day for Harris who had an excellent put back in overtime off a Rautins miss. Harris played well and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to grab a rebound. Good work by Harris throughout this tournament.

Rautins again let down Syracuse fans in this game. He only hit 3-8 from three point territory, only earning nine points. He did manage three assists though and the nine points came at good times.

Overall the defense in this game was terrible. What also did not help was that every Kansas player seemed to make baskets when left wide open, but Syracuse players missed wide open baskets. Syracuse shot 48.3% from the floor, which was down from last night’s game. Also not helping was the 15 turnovers the team committed. The only good thing is that Kansas committed 17 and Syracuse made their shots down the stretch of both regulation and overtime. This game was all but doomed and then Syracuse caught some lucky breaks, some stops, and some shots. This game could have been ugly though, so it was lucky that Kansas started missing and Syracuse started hitting.

Once again, I was only one point off in my prediction and correct in calling the Syracuse victory. It feels good to be correct about Syracuse winning two “neutral site” games in the non-conference slate, both against ranked opponents. These games really go to show you that we have a special team brewing that could do big things the Big East Conference and beyond. Syracuse keeps the streak of beating Kansas alive. Hakim Warrick says thank you. And Kueth Duany is smiling somewhere. As they said on ESPN, Syracuse gets another trophy at Kansas’ expense. Awesome.

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Syracuse - Kansas Preview

Syracuse students agree: We're too young to have seen the last victory over Kansas.
Syracuse played a hard fought game last night versus #18 Florida. Syracuse was victorious. Now Syracuse plays #23 Kansas in a rematch from the 2003 National Championship. That last game came down to missed free throws and a saving block from Hakim Warrick. Tonight could very well be the same situation after all the missed free throws from last night. Syracuse needs to make free throws to put games away as evident from last night. Guard Sherron Collins is averaging 19.7 ppg and 3.3 assists. Rebounding machine Markieff Morris could give Onuaku trouble down below. Syracuse will again need a solid night from shooters Devendorf and Rautins, but also a huge night from Onuaku. Clearly this game will also come down to the defense against the shooters of Kansas. Look for the match up of the Kansas backcourt and the man and zone defense of Syracuse. If Syracuse is defending well and getting rebounds, this should be an easy game for Syracuse. Again, I just have a feeling Syracuse will match up well against this squad. Last night I picked Syracuse over Florida by five and they won by six. Tonight I will say Syracuse over Kansas by seven.

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Is this New York? This doesn't look like the Carrier Dome. That looks like this.
Syracuse has had quite the last couple of games. While the outcome of the Oakland game was never in doubt, the Florida game would be this team’s first big test. Syracuse entered Kansas City ready to see if they are the team that Syracuse fans all think they can be, and they definitely delivered. Syracuse beat Oakland 86 to 66, and they beat Florida 89 to 83.
Jonny Flynn was your leading scorer in the Oakland and the co-leading scorer for the Florida game. He also combined for eight assists in both games. He continues to quietly score baskets at will by slicing the lane or penetrating and making a quick dish on the wing to an open shooter. This is clearly Flynn’s team and he is an elite sophomore in the NCAA. He had the best jump stop I have seen in the last few years during that Florida game.

Harris also had a quiet 18 points in the Florida game. He went 7-11 from the floor and 11 rebounds. Harris also earned 11 points and eight rebounds against Oakland. Harris, although leading turnovers with five in the Florida game, is making some outstanding passes and has shown flashes of outstanding court vision. Finally we are seeing more of his mid-range game as well as his baseline work, which is delivering as promised his freshman year.

Eric Devendorf got 10 points against Oakland and nine against Florida. He combined for eight assists and continues to distribute the ball well. However, the turnovers for this young man are still extremely troubling as it seems because of the accident he has regressed in his decision making. He is making those bad choices he made at the very start of last year, but mostly stopped by December. Hopefully the learning curve is shorter this year, as with playing Kansas tonight and Memphis later, bad decisions could even haunt us in the non-conference.

Kristof! was recognized by Dickie V on the Florida broadcast as that blue collar hard worker that we love and need. He finished with a combined five points, and ten rebounds. While his offense is not something that is very productive, we really do not need it to be. He always works hard on defense (even when it appears not may others are), rebounds tough rebounds, and always hustles. Exactly the player Syracuse needs.

Arinze Onuaku is clearly the strongest player on the floor for either team and probably will be most of the year. He was 5-5 on field goals in the Oakland game and got 14 points. In the Florida game he went 5-8 with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Onuaku is clearly an elite inside player and as long as he receives a good pass he is the strong finisher that Craig Forth never was. Onuaku will be the key to victory in several games.

Kris Joseph has been excellent in the last two games. In the Oakland game he was 6-6 with 13 points and for the Florida game he was 5-8 with ten points and five rebounds. This freshman is very athletic and quickly becoming a member of the Jim Boeheim good list.

Andy Rautins has been dreadful until this point, but during this Florida game he finally became the Andy Rautins we missed last year. During the game he went 5-9 from three point range, earning 15 points. Now that he is over the mental block I feel like he will now be able to consistently contribute to the team.

Rick Jackson has been dreadful the past few games. Hopefully he will gain some confidence and start making strong moves to the basket.

Syracuse finished the Florida game at 51.7% from the floor and 40% from long range. Similarly, they finished the Oakland game shooting 52.8% from the floor, but only 29.2% from three-point range. The team overall is shooting very well from the floor so if they keep that up, victory should be at hand more often than not.

The free throw situation is really getting ridiculous. The Florida game was too close at the end because of the free throws, and it was only due to Syracuse’s quick thinking to get the ball to good shooters and Florida’s failure to foul Onuaku when the ball was in his hand that won the game in the end. Boeheim seriously needs to make sure that these kids are practicing them in a game type situation so that they are confident that they can make them. Face it, if someone gets a rebound it will probably be Onuaku or Harris, and they will be fouled. They need to be able to consistently shoot free throws down the stretch of a game.

The man defense was weak and Florida had the answer for Syracuse’s weak zone. They are just not gelling on defense yet. This will surely come by playing in the non-conference slate, but it is disturbing the ease of which Florida could get close to the basket for an easy dish. The defense needs to commit to being tough. If we had five Kristof!’s it would be great.

I do have to give a shout out from the Oakland game to Dan Waterstradt, formally of your Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He was the tallest, goofiest white dude basketball player I’ve ever seen, and he made his triumphant return to the Carrier Dome earning 0 points and one rebound in 15 minutes of play. Congratulations to Dan.

The Florida game was a huge step in the right direction for this team. Despite the outcome tonight Syracuse will return to New York successful. Beating #18 Florida was a good test for this team, and the only thing better will be beating defending National Champions Kansas in a rematch from the 2003 National Championship. If Syracuse can lock down free throws and play stronger defense, then Syracuse will be a really hard team to reckon with.

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Syracuse - Florida Preview

Syracuse students agree: Billy Donovan's hair is assinine.
Florida enters Kansas City to face the Syracuse Orange tonight. Both teams are 3-0 and Florida is currently ranked 18th. The key match up tonight will be how Eric Devendorf will play versus Florida guard Nick Calathes. Calathes is averaging 15.78 points per game, six rebounds, and 5.7 assists a game. Devo is averaging 15.3 points per game, while Jonny Flynn is averaging 20.7 points a game. Florida is averaging 75 ppg, while Syracuse is averaging 82.3. However Syracuse allows about the same margin more in points than Florida, so on paper the teams are pretty even. I think the X factor will be how both Jonny Flynn and Onuaku respond. If Flynn can slice the lane like he has been against inferior opponents, and Onuaku can handle hot passes inside and finish strong, Syracuse will go a long way in securing them a place atop the Big East when the conference slate comes around. I’ll Say Syracuse wins, but only by the slim margin of five points.

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BlogPoll Week 13

RankTeamDelta
1Alabama --
2Florida 2
3Oklahoma 2
4Texas 1
5Southern Cal 1
6Penn State 1
7Texas Tech 5
8Utah 2
9Boise State 1
10Ohio State 1
11Georgia --
12Missouri --
13Oklahoma State --
14TCU 2
15Cincinnati 4
16Ball State 2
17Oregon State 4
18Michigan State 1
19Boston College 7
20Brigham Young 5
21Oregon 3
22Florida State 4
23Northwestern 3
24West Virginia 2
25Pittsburgh 5

Dropped Out: LSU (#18), Maryland (#22), Miami (Florida) (#23), North Carolina (#25).
* There is an obvious shake up at the top, leaving Alabama still #1, while Texas Tech falls to 7th. While the Sooner's win was impressive, you could tell that that Florida team is something special and very well could play for another National Championship this season.
* Penn State wins the Big (11) Ten with a win over Michigan State. Congrats to them, as they again look like they could take home a title if the teams above them lose.
* Does anyone else hate that USC is in the top five when they really have not played anyone good since like week 6?
* To me, from this weekend's game Utah looks like the real deal still unbeaten. I have them jump over Ohio State after beating a bad Michigan squad, and a really great Boise State team.
*Cincy jumps four spots after beating Pittsburgh for the first time.
* Boston College takes a huge jump for beating Wake Forrest and looking like they again belong in the Top 25.
* Michigan State only drops one spot by losing to superior Penn State, while BYU drops five after losing to Utah and not looking as good.
* Ball State still winning so they remain, although they drop two spots just beacuse I think those other teams are better.
* BC, Florida State, and West Virginia are new to the poll this week, along with a more impressive by the game Northwestern team.
* Pittsburgh almost dropped out, but I just could not decide who to replace them with so they remain in the last spot.
What do you think?

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Syracuse - Notre Dame Postgame Reactions OR OMFG AHHHHHH!

Do you believe in upsets? YES!
Syracuse entered South Bend to play a Notre Dame team that on paper was clearly superior. Although Notre Dame had only six wins, clearly they were on their way up and should have beaten a Syracuse team that ranks nearly last in almost every statistical category. Yet Syracuse, especially with Greg Robinson knowing his tenure as coach was up either way in a couple of weeks, managed to pull off probably the biggest statement win we will remember about his tenure. While this does not qualify as his biggest upset win in terms of point spread (for entertainment purposes only), it clearly was against a major college program that should have beat Syracuse. Notre Dame loses to the lame duck Greg Robinson and the Orange by one. Syracuse wins 24 to 23.

Offense
B+
Not a great performance, but when you out convert on third downs and have more first downs overall you deserve a pretty good grade. Cameron Dantley had a fine game (13/25, 122 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), and passed to Donte Davis with 42 seconds remaining for the game winning touchdown. The Syracuse run game was excellent, but not from who you think. Curtis Brinkley only had 44 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. He performed well. But the real hero of the game was freshman Antwon Bailey (16 carries, 126 yds, 7.9 ypc, 1 TD). That includes the 26 yard touchdown run to bring us within a score of Notre Dame. The receivers stepped up as well, as they continued to make play after play when delivered a ball that was even moderately close to them. The team combined had 14 receptions for a total of 147 receiving yards. Syracuse converted six of 13 on third downs, got a total 18 first downs, and earned 317 total yards on offense. Without a doubt, compared to the last two games Syracuse played, this offense looked geniuses.

Defense
B
While this defense was not the best we have seen all year, they clearly picked the right spots to be outstanding and tough, including several key stops on third down plays. Arthur Jones was simply everywhere he needed to be as he seemed to be right in the middle of every big defensive stop. Max Suter was even in on the defensive action breaking up passes. The defense really worked together, and although the pass defense was not that great at times, they again stepped up when needed to and delivered some big stops. Either way, you could tell that Notre Dame had trouble moving the ball against this Orange defense.

Special Teams
C+
Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle was again outstanding for the most part, although he missed a 47 yard field goal attempt that looked absolutely terrible. Rob Long did his part by punting five times for 145 yards, but one of which basically resulted in a five yard punt after the return by Notre Dame. One punt was inside the 20 though. Mike Holmes and Antwon Bailey had six kick returns for 96 total yards. They could have done better, but they were acceptable in the situations. Since the offense was clicking, field position was mostly secondary to sustaining drives. Either way, the day was not great, but it was not bad either.
Coaching
B+
Despite what you think of Greg or the fact he was fired, he and his staff had their team prepared and ready on both offense and defense. They had a clear game plan for Notre Dame and executed it well and competently. The defense, lead by Jones, played superbly and only lapsed for a few fleeting moments. On offense, Syracuse stuck with the fun and it paid off in some long passing gains. Similarly, the defense had clear plans to attack Jimmy Clausen and they mostly did. The Notre Dame rushing attack was snuffed out from the start and that put all the pressure on Clausen, who responded well at times, but came up short, much like the Notre Dame kicker. You simply have to give credit to Robinson and the staff for not giving up or phoning this one in.

GPA
B (3.0)
Syracuse did the unthinkable and managed to beat a Notre Dame team in South Bend among one of the worst seasons in Syracuse history. Although this Notre Dame team has struggled this season, nothing should be taken away from this victory for Syracuse. These kids played hard for their head coach and they earned a well deserved win. Syracuse may not have played for anything worth while, but Syracuse loves to play spoiler and they played the roll well. Syracuse earns a hard fought win and gave Greg a nice parting gift that very well may be the most memorable victory for Syracuse in the Robinson era.

I do have to make a point to complement Greg Robinson. I have always thought Greg was a nice person and everyone backs up this assertion. However, while being interviewed by NBC he stopped the reporter and stated that he will wait until after the Notre Dame Alma Mater before continuing was easily the classiest thing I have seen in college football in a long time. Robinson showed a lot of class and just what a great person he is. He may not be the best coach, nor was he a great coach for Syracuse, but he sure was and is a classy, honorable person and that definitely showed this past weekend.

Syracuse has one game remaining. They travel to Cincinnati to take on a Bearcat team that just beat Pittsburgh for the first time. The game is next Saturday at 12:00pm. We will see if Syracuse responds in the same way. I am completely unsure as to which Syracuse team will show up, but this game leaves me hopeful for the future of the program. You can tell that these players, combined with renewed recruiting, and a brand new talented football coach, will result in a resurrection of the program in the near future at some point. While this game really meant relatively nothing, it left me with a huge hope and allowed me to celebrate and have one hell of a weekend, so thanks to Greg and his team for that. Stay tuned tomorrow for my Oakland recap, as well as a Florida preview. Take this week to harass any Notre Dame fans you know and revel in a rare football win and a win over a big time program.

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Cue The Puppies!

I am simply shocked. Great win for the team and GRob.
Well I said the reasons to be on Upset Alert, and sure enough a combination of the things I pointed out happened and Syracuse earns a huge upset win in South Bend over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Simply an amazing performance from Syracuse to keep fighting and earn a big win. Congratulations to the players and coaches. I’ll have my report card tomorrow, along with the postgame reactions from the Oakland game. Until then, celebrate and enjoy. This is a rare feeling these days.

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Notre Dame Quick Predictions

Your mascot is just a dude with a hat.
So Greg is fired. He still has two games left. This is one of them. What will happen is anybody’s guess, but being that Syracuse is a 19 point underdog (for entertainment purposes only) it is doubtful that Syracuse will pull of an upset. Far be it from me to say never when it comes to Syracuse though. I outlined five areas where Syracuse could possibly cause an upset in here for Rakes of Mallow, a great Notre Dame blog. Nunes/Magician also got in on the action. Will it happen though? Not likely.

Syracuse enters this game with only two wins in ten games. Notre Dame has it slightly better with six on the year. Notre Dame has outscored Syracuse 246 to 183. I have a feeling that Syracuse will again have a case of the missing second half. Navy gave Notre Dame a run for their money after scoring 14 points in 19 seconds in the second half and recovering two on side kicks. I doubt Syracuse can score like that as Navy did. The fact of the matter is that the passing game of Syracuse in the last two games has been the worst it has been in the last decade easily. So the fact is that Syracuse will have to ride on the coat tails of Curtis Brinkley to keep this game going. Hopefully if the run is working that the passing game will come naturally. However, I am very suspicious that Syracuse will get that early lead and then fall apart like every other game this season. Plus, this is senior day and Notre Dame should be blinging the green jerseys. Notre Dame has traditionally done very well on their last home game. Plus the need another win before finishing their schedule with USC. Therefore, Notre Dame will beat Syracuse 34 to 17.

The game is on NBC in stunning high definition at 2:30pm on Saturday. I’ll be watching from here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but the real question is will I be able to watch it all the way through? Probably, but I might need the aid of a nice cold beer. After all, Syracuse Football is best watched with a cold beer and a bitter heart.

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Orange Upset Alert

Yeah dude, have another beer. You could totally take this guy.
The fine folks at the Notre Dame blog Rakes of Mallow asked me to list five reasons why Syracuse could possibly beat Notre Dame this weekend. I gave them a list that will have even your mom convinced that Syracuse has a chance to win at Notre Dame. That article is found here. Also, look for my Notre Dame quick predictions this afternoon.

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Oakland - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We have no clue who this team is.
The next game for Syracuse is Oakland. Frankly, I did not know Oakland had a school, let alone a basketball team, but sure enough they do. They play in the Summit League, which should pretty much tell you all you need to know about how worried you should be coming into this game. Syracuse is averaging 80.5 points a game, while Oakland only averages 68.5. They lost their first game by three to Cleveland State and won their second game in overtime by three to Oregon. Either way this team should not scare you. Their star however is averaging 20ppg and 6.5rpg, so he will be a tough guard to handle. Either way, this game should be entertaining but the outcome should never be in doubt pending some horrific collapse. Look for some unlikely sources to do well on the scoreboard because they are playing an inferior team. Syracuse over Oakland by 17 points.

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Notre Dame Game Talk with Rakes Of Mallow

Being Irish, I love this logo a lot.
This Saturday at 2:30pm on NBC is the next football game against Notre Dame, so of course we had to talk to some experts on the Notre Dame Football squad. I asked the fine folks over at Rakes Of Mallow, an excellent Notre Dame blog some questions. Christopher Wilson, the operator of that site was gracious enough to answer them for us.

1. Orange::44: After beating Navy it seems like Charlie Wise can breathe easy knowing he will finish the season. How will this impact the game on Saturday?

Christopher: While Charlie's job is safe, he would probably be much better off to win the game Saturday to placate some of his critics, especially as a 20-point home favorite. Going into this final stretch of games, I think everyone assumed Notre Dame would dust Navy and Syracuse before getting railed by Southern Cal. The Navy game was on its way to being a solid three touchdown win before all hell broke loose, but it would be best for the health of the program if things went smoothly on Saturday (for the Irish, not you folks). As far as a direct effect on the game, if Charlie is up 20 with ten minutes left in the fourth, I don't think he'll be putting the back-ups in.

2. Orange::44: Navy recovered two onside kicks. Were they just executed perfectly by Navy or will Notre Dame really have to take a look at their Special Teams?

Christopher: I don't want to try and glean too much from an oblong piece of leather bouncing at awkward angles three times, but the Irish hands team seemed somewhat hesitant and not overly prepared. Special teams coach Brian Polian has taken a lot of heat, but things were getting a lot better until recent weeks, when a couple of punt blocks and the failure to recover onside kicks raised a few eyebrows. Polian could be gone at the end of the season, but with a few injuries from the Navy game carrying over into Saturday, onside kick coverage will be a minor factor.

3. Orange::44: What one player will abuse Syracuse all day?

Christopher: In games where the defenses are less than stellar – Purdue, Washington, Navy – Notre Dame has focused on running the ball. I imagine that'll be the initial plan against Syracuse unless things go awry, so let's say it'll be Armando Allen, who is a threat both running the ball or catching it out of the backfield. With Michael Floyd out and something off with Jimmy Clausen, Weis will be running the ball, which means a lot of touches for Allen to cause some damage against the Cuse.

4. Orange::44: How do you think Jimmy Clausen will do against Syracuse?

Christopher: I hope really well, but he's been less than sharp over the last month. Even against Washington, a horrendously awful team, he was only for 14 for 26 for 201 yards with one TD and one INT. Syracuse's pass efficiency defense is rated 106th in the nation, one spot above of Navy, who Clausen did not have a great day against. He is playing at home, where he's been much better, but I'm not expecting a monster game through the air.

5. Orange::44: What one player is Notre Dame most afraid of, and will they be able to stop them?

Christopher: I don't know who the team is most concerned with, but I'd be concerned with Curtis Brinkley. If he can grind out a few first downs to keep the Irish offense off the field, or maybe break off a long run that stymies the crowd, the pressure swings to Clausen and Weis in front of a potentially anxious Notre Dame Stadium.


6. Orange::44: What do you think about the dismissal of Greg Robinson from coaching the Syracuse team, and how do you think he will react during this Notre Dame game because of it?

Christopher: I don't understand dismissing him with two weeks to go in the season, but that seems to be the new fad in college football. I guess it gives the program an opportunity to officially start looking for a replacement sooner, but most of your replacements are still coaching and won't say they're interested or do an interview (The Bobby Petrinos of the world obviously the exception). If I were Robinson, and coaching a team I knew wasn't retaining me, there wouldn't be a trick play on the planet I wouldn't be calling. I'd even run the A-11 until the refs stopped me for it being illegal. After wondering when the ax was going to fall, I feel like it would be a huge weight off the shoulders of Robinson to know his fate.

Thanks again to Rakes of Mallow and Christopher for his insightful answers. Now since we all know Greg will be leaving it would be nice to pull out a road win from a team not named Louisville. Stay tuned for some of my answers to his questions appearing over at his site soon.

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Nunes::44 - 11/19/08

Nunes and Coach P would have smoked UConn.
It is that time of the week when I throw some questions at Sean from Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, and he heaves back some intelligent, well thought out answers. Then I proceed to edit them until he sounds like a moron Then I post them for your information and enjoyment. Today we talk about that terrible UConn game, Greggers, the basketball team, and the implications of expanding Big East football. As always enjoy.

1. Orange::44: Before we get to Greg, your thoughts on that UConn game?

Nunes: Do I have to relive it? Syracuse football games seem to have developed a pattern this season. We do a couple good things early to instill a sense of hope that it'll be different this time and then we pull the rug out from under ourselves. If the running game is clicking, we start chucking up tons of passes. If their running back in decimating us, we don't adjust or tackle properly. And it's best not to think about where we'd be without our special teams unit. Bless their hearts.

It ended up being exactly what I thought it would. Anytime we play a team with a good running game, we're done. We can't stop it. End of story. Everything else is just window dressing. We do what we can to try and keep it respectable but we can't. We just don't the horses.

Offensively, it was pretty dreadful. How did our passing game get this bad? It's almost impressive. Almost as much as Greg's need to keep Dantley and Robinson in there instead of just blowing the whole thing up and trying out Legree. What could it possibly hurt at this point? Especially at the end of the game.

2. Orange::44: Was this the correct time to dismiss Robinson and what do you think about how the school (and specifically DOCTOR Gross) handled it?

Nunes: Well, the CORRECT time was at the end of last season. But given the circumstances and taking into account that the decision was left this long, yes it was the right move. Why delay the inevitable and keep that black cloud hanging over the program? Everyone, including Robinson, knew he was out, so you might as well get it out there so everyone can loosen up for the last couple games and then by the time the season is over we should have a fairly clear idea as to who the next coach might be.

3. Orange::44: Is Randy Edsall your guy now, or do you favor another coaching alternative?

Nunes: On paper, he's the best fit. Syracuse alum, worked extensively for the football program, strong Northeastern ties and he's a proven winner and program-builder. Can't ask for much more than that, my friends. Throw in the bonus that by poaching him you make one of our rivals weaker and I think that would put him over the top. That said, if he's not interested (which I don't believe) then we need to look around. There's some great names out there but I have to say there aren't a lot of coaches that make me think "YES! GET THAT GUY! PAY HIM WHATEVER HE WANTS!" Throw in the fact that there are a lot of high-profile programs out there looking for coaches that look a lot better than we do (Tennessee, Clemson, Washington, maybe Auburn).

I have a feeling Syracuse fans are expecting a white knight to come in and rescue us and I just don't think that's the case. I think we're going to have to accept the fact that the next coach will likely be a very good but not very "sexy" pick. I turn to Ben Folds in a time like this...

There's never gonna be a moment of truth for you
While the world is watching.
All you need is the thing you've forgotten
And that's to learn to live with what you are.

4. Orange::44: Now that Greg knows there is no tomorrow after the last two games, how do you think this will affect his coaching and the team for the upcoming Notre Dame game?

Nunes: Knowing that Greg has a bit of a soft side, I think you're going to see a lot of the backups and young players get an opportunity to play, especially if either game gets out of hand. He's no longer under the impression that "we're still in this, fightin' the fight" so maybe that will allow him to take a step back and realize it's about the players now. It's about their experience and their growth and he can give them that as a final thank you.

Will there be more trick plays and more of a go-for-broke attitude? I don't know...you still want to try and win the game and you have to be smart to do it. I don't think fourteen flea-flickers is the way to go there. But if a late-game situation calls for going for it on fourth down, expect to see it. If the team is punting but needs the first down, you might see another fake (which worked very well last week). The offense should open up slightly, but not that much.

5. Orange::44: The basketball team has had two (after Richmond) games now. What are the major pros and cons you see in this team so far?

Nunes:
Pros
Jonny Flynn. He's as good as advertised.

Arinza Onuaku is really taking up space down low. He becomes more valuable and a better player with every game. He's going to challenge Paul Harris for "Unsung Hero" status each game, assuming he gets enough touches.

It's way too early to discuss chemistry but I think the team is heading in the right direction. Everyone is slowly but surely beginning to find their place and it's only going to get better.

Cons
Any interaction with women. Ever. Ugh.

Free-throw shooting. This is going to come back and bite us in the ass. Don't know what to say other than Hit Your Free Throws!

Andy Rautins is going to need some time to get his legs under him. Please oh please don't let anything happen that forces Andy to progress sooner than needed (Devo leave, freshman not step up, etc.)

6. Orange::44: Who do you really see as the clutch, go to guy for the basketball team to take that last second shot?

Nunes: Whether he takes the shot or not, I want the ball in Flynn's hands with seconds ticking off the clock. I trust him to, most of the time, make the right decision. McNamara had that, and every time I doubted him for taking an absurdly long three, he made it. Or made the smart pass. I trust Flynn in the same way.

7. Orange::44: Grab Bag Big East Question: Do you ever see a day when the Big East will have enough members to have a conference championship, and who would you take to do it?

Nunes: I think Big East football has no choice. Grow or die. Maybe not in five years, maybe not in ten, but eventually the Big East is going to have to join the other conferences by expanding to double-digits. Otherwise, it will cease to exist or cease to have the same value. Hell, if the Mountain West keeps this up they might make a case for taking our place sooner than we think.

So you need 12 teams to have a conference championship, right? That means we need four teams to join the conference. There's two ways to go about it, the pie-in-the-sky and the realistic options.

My pie-in-the-sky options would be:
Villanova moves up to 1-A (giving us back the Philly market and keeping it in the family)
Penn State wises up and comes home.
Boston College does the same.
Notre Dame finally caves and join the conference.

Now THAT'S a Big East! But let's be realistic, none of those things are going to happen anytime soon. So working with what we've got...

East Carolina gives us access to the Carolinas and expands our reach.
Memphis gives Louisville a natural rival and expands the reach some more.
Army gives Syracuse an in-state rival.
Navy gives us Baltimore and makes Army vs. Navy a Big East affair.

Honestly, I'd rather not have Memphis, Army or Navy in the Big East, but if we gotta expand, that's what we have to work with.

Thanks Sean as always. Do you think Greg is listening to Song For The Dumped over and over again?

Before you depart, a brief programming note: Nunes::44 and Orange::44 is an Absolute Magician articles will appear here and on Nunes/Magician every Wednesday from now on, instead of Tuesdays like previous installments.

Editor’s Note: This is another installment in the ongoing collaboration between Orange::44 and Nunes/Magician. Usually every other Wednesday Nunes::44 will appear here, while the following week Orange::44/Magician will appear on his site. Until then, enjoy Nunes/Magician articles and stay tuned to Orange::44 for complete postgame coverage from every Syracuse game.

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Do I have "Awesome" written here? I should. You've seen my wife.
Well one thing is for sure, this Richmond was no D2 school. Syracuse found out the hard way, by trailing for way too long in this game. Other than the exhibition games, this was my first viewing of the Syracuse Orange 2008-2009 Basketball Team, and I will be honest… I was not thrilled. However, a win is a win, so can you really be too upset.

Your leading scorer was Jonny Flynn. He is one shy of his career high of 28 points with 27. Flynn is still a master of slicing through the lane and the dribble and dish. Flynn continues to remain an elite player in my mind and the minds of many fans and professionals. An excellent performance, especially in the later portion of the second half.

Eric Devendorf was clearly the BMOC of this game. He took over the second half of this game and went 4-5 from long range. He finished with 22 points. In typical Devo fashion he had seven turnovers, but I’ll cut him a break as he missed most of last season. Much like Vick Mackey, I’m sure Devendorf has much to confess. That will have to wait for another day. Just make smarter choices with the ball next time huh Eric?

Arinze Onuaku had an aggressive 17 points. I am under the full belief that Onuaku has emerged as an elite center in the Big East. He can create space, can elevate when necessary, and is mobile and light on his feet. A combination that can not be undervalued. He will be the biggest asset to this team, if they use him like they should. Chucking up bad 3 pointers will not help. Feeding the big man and letting him do what he does best will create wins, even against the toughest teams. He was 8-11 on field goals in 30 minutes of play. He also had 11 total rebounds.

Paul Harris had a nice game, but it was not anything special. He finished with seven points, including going 1-1 from long range. He also had six total rebounds. Paul has really developed his long range shot, however he missed a fairly easy mid-range jumper in the second half. I am still waiting for Paul to really establish his ability on the base line this season as well. He had a game that was just fine though.

Kristof! had a fine game in terms of intangibles and rebounding. He had zero points and some stupid fouls, but he did end up with nine rebounds and a steal. He had an excellent look at the basket in the second half, but overshot it. He did have a simply amazing block though, which got the Dome rocking.

Rick Jackson was a big disappointment in this game and you can see his role on the team slipping away to Kris Joseph. He only played nine minutes, missed a bucket, and got four total rebounds.

Speaking of Joseph, he finished with two points but had an excellent game with three assists, four rebounds, and a steal in 12 minutes of play.

The biggest disappointment in this game was Andy Rautins, who was 0-5 from behind the arc. He was 0-7 in total field goals. I’m hoping this was because he burned a lot in that Le Moyne game and will be back in top form in the next game.

The team was clearly lacking intensity and defensive prowess. Overall, they allowed too many shots from long range to go uncontested in their man-to-man defense. The zone looked good, and even against a team that shot the three well, they played it well. Again, the man defense looked too unorganized and lazy to really impress me. I am hoping this will change as the non-conference season progresses.

The team shot 28-56 (50%) from the floor overall. I’ll take 50% any day, but of course they could have done better, especially subtracting the 0’fer that Rautins turned in. Also, going 8-20 (40%) from long range is good. I would also take 40% from that line as well. So the shooting was good, but the team took too many unnecessary shots instead of taking that one extra pass or giving the ball to Onuaku.

The free throws are still not good. 12-19 (63.2%) will not win a game in the Big East. I just made a purchase for tickets to the UConn game tonight and if we lose that down the stretch from missed free throws I will throw a brick through the UConn Co-Op window.

All in all, a good game for the Orange. They have some clear areas to improve on and they better get on it if they want to be ready to play Florida. Syracuse will have one more tune up on Friday November 21 at 7:00pm against Oakland before they take on Florida in the Sprint Center next week. We will see if Syracuse can tune up their man defense in time to take on a serious non-conference opponent. I’m going to go and re-watch tonight’s episode of The Shield again so I will talk to you later.

Also, just as a hilarious aside, a good friend who recently started his one Syracuse blog asked me a legal question that was easily the craziest I’ve been asked in a while; would there be any legal issues with me posting an image of an SU basketball player's vanity license plate? Amazing.

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Richmond - Syracuse Preview

Syracuse students agree: We will finally do some avenging.
Look, we are not losing this game. I think it is very clear that we are a better team than Richmond. However, this would not be the first time that Richmond could surprise Syracuse. They can shoot. David Gonzalvez shot 42% from long range last season, and he is looking to again make some history against Syracuse. However, I am not worried. If Syracuse takes care of the ball, unlike how they did against Le Moyne, we will continue to the next game undefeated. Look for Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris to take some big jump shots from all over the floor and rightly squish the Spiders.




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Reactions From A Firing

This guy still thinks he just needed more time.
And just like that, our long, collective nightmare is over. Just like that. When I found out the news I was driving in my car between Cortland, New York and Ithaca, New York, heading home. When I got the call I was extremely excited, I called a few friends and texted a whole bunch more. And then it was over. I got home and dialed up Syracuse.com to see what they were saying. Then I watched the presser Greg Robinson gave and I was just sad. I felt bad for a man that by every account was a complete idiot when it came to coaching this Syracuse team. It’s a complete joke, but he really did have a lot of want-to. He had a nice resume when he walked in the door four years ago. But I felt bad hating this guy so much. He’s just a dude. His job was to coach a bunch of kids to play a game. Although he sucked at it, I just felt sorry for him to have so much promise and absolutely tank at it. The guy will probably coach again, but he will never have a head coaching job again save a high school. You have to feel bad for a guy whose career will never recover.

That being said, I am thrilled. This was the correct move for Syracuse to make after the Pittsburgh game. At the very least, then did it before the end of the year and before a lot of schools will make their final determination on the coaches of their teams. Syracuse will do a big search within the coaching ranks to determine who they think is the best candidate and they will make the final determination. Then they will proceed to throw a big sack with a $ on it right at some dude and he will decide to accept or stay in Connecti… I mean decline. All kidding aside, there are several candidates that I like for the job. Randy Edsall is not someone I am excited about. However, he will surely do a good job and he can recruit well as evident by the fact that UConn has risen from 1-AA terribleness to a team that will again go Bowling. Either way, Greg leaves a program in complete shambles, despite the rosey pictures he likes to paint. The new staff will have to immediately hit the recruiting trails and try to save the recruits that Robinson tried to get, or will possibly convince other players to commit to a new staff. Either way, there is a big job ahead. Although there is no where to go but up, the pressure on the new coach will be tremendous. Clearly ticket sales will immediately increase though, and I am sure DOCTOR Gross will hit the wealthy donor circuit to get some more cash for this revamped program. Speaking of Gross, what the hell was this “invite a few guys at a time in the office to interview me” bullshit that he pulled. He again made it the “DOCTOR Gross Show” and guess what, it is not supposed to be. It is supposed to be about this program deciding to go in a different direction, not what you were watching ten minutes before you called Donnie Webb into your office.

Greg gets two more games to finish his career, so I will leave my final judgments for Greg at that time after he gives his final press conference. For now, good news is here. We can wake up from this football nightmare and go back to dreaming about a football team in Syracuse that wins games, or at least you think has a chance to win one before kickoff. As Jim Brown said, it is not the losses, but how they happened. I agree. I just want to believe again. This is the first step in making a lot of people believe again.


The DOCTOR Gross show in action. The 9:00pm is completely different from the 7:00.

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Is that Jonny Flynn or a young Scottie Pippin?
Editor’s Note: I could not attend tonight’s Le Moyne game due to a previous speaking engagement. However, John Brennan, a crack Orange::44 correspondent was on the scene. You may have heard John on several Orange::44 podcasts, as well as probably read a few of his comments to my articles. Rest assured, my former radio co-host knows his SU sports and has penned an excellent recap of the game below, so enjoy.
What a glorious day in Syracuse! There was a chill in the air, the hammer finally dropped on the Greg Robinson era, and the basketball regular season began. I was in the Dome to cover the game for Brian, who was busy corrupting the morals of our local youth.
Syracuse got off to a quick start against the LeMoyne Dolphins, beginning on a 13-0 run. It was clear from the onset that Syracuse was the bigger, stronger team. That showed on the boards, with Syracuse winning the rebound battle 40-29. Andy Rautins provided some great minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals. In fact, his 31 minutes logged in as the most on the team, tied with Jonny Flynn. Speaking of Flynn, he had another great game. Kristof showed some flashes early on in the game, but this game belonged to Andy and Jonny.
Andy was the target of Mike Veley's announcing. After hitting one of his three-pointers, Veley proclaimed "That was a dandy from Andy!" This guy has got to go. Send him away with Greggers!
It's hard to really gauge anything by this game, as LeMoyne is just a glorified CYO team, but it was clear that Syracuse still has a number of things to work on. I'll start with free-throws: Syracuse was 10 of 17 from the charity stripe. While this is a bit of an improvement over the two exhibition games, it's still not where it needs to be. The Orange won't be able to compete with the likes of Florida, Georgetown, and UConn unless the free-throws improve. I was also concerned with the number of turnovers. SU sloppily gave the ball away 18 times. Again, not a good way to win a basketball game (though, I should note the Dolphins coughed up the ball 25 times, which certainly helped the Syracuse cause).
There was a sighting of Daryl Gross watching the game behind the basket with Randy Edsell, Lane Kiffin, Skip Holtz, and Turner Gill. And Lloyd Carr bought me a cookiewich.
Overall it was an enjoyable game that was just never in reach for the Dolphins. The Orange was victorious 85-51, and LeMoyne hopped on the bus for that long ride back to... Syracuse. I will say this though: Dolphy Day is way cooler than MayFest.
Editor's Note: Lloyd Carr. Nice. Also, no youth's were corrupted in the making of this blog. Special thanks and a thousand hat tips to John Brennan for his efforts.

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One of these guys will be a head football coach next year.
Folks, I have seen a lot of terrible football games from Syracuse the past four years. In reality, despite what you think of Connecticut, this is not a football rivalry. A rivalry implies that these games have more meaning than us losing to Connecticut. As Matt Glaude penned in his most recent article here, “Hating Connecticut is a two-week (at most) responsibility, like pest control.” While this may be true, it does not take the sting out of this loss for me. Sitting in the Dome with very good friends was about the only solace I could take away form this one. UConn beats down a Syracuse team barely on life support 39 to 14.

Offense
D
Greg was right, he did play several quarterbacks. Cameron Dantley did not play well (4/16, 38 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT), Andrew Robinson did not play well (2/7, 13 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT), and Cody Catalina did not play well (1 carry for -1 yards, 0/0, 0 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT). Awesome. Syracuse’s only offensive spot was Curtis Brinkley (21 carries, 94 yards, 4.5 ypc, 1 TD). He played well and continued to give his all to this team on his final home game. Other than that, the team was stinko on offense. 147 total yards on offense is terrible, but 1-14 on third down conversions is even worse. Terrible. Just terrible. The team managed to not score in the second half again. These guys managed a worse outing than the Rutgers game.

Defense
C-
Preparing the defense for this game, they just should have been given a paper saying “STOP DONALD BROWN”. They did not. He ran for 131 yards and a touchdown. Outstanding. They could not stop the run. They actually managed to stop some passes though, which was refreshing. However, it matters little when Donald Brown is running all over the field.

Special Teams
C+
It a lot of highs and lows for the Syracuse special teams. They manage to block a punt and recover it in the end zone for six points, but they allow a 69 yard punt return for a touchdown and get a punt of their own blocked for a safety. Patrick “Sex Offender Mustache” Shadle did not attempt a field goal, but he did nail two extra points. Rob Long punted well when he managed to get the ball off, punting seven times for a total of 327 yards, getting three behind the twenty, one of which landed perfectly on the five yard line. Mike Holmes returned 5 kicks for a total of 98 yards (not bad), and Max Suter ran two for 58 yards (a little better). Either way, a day of highs and lows for the special teams, who managed to earn half of the teams points on the day.

Coaching
D
This was not a good game for the coaches either. The play calling was debatable at best. Most of what they tried failed or was quite predictable. The defense failed to adjust to the rushing attack of UConn. Again, and I made a big deal about this last week, but this team just does not adjust to anything at the half or during the game. There are reasons this guy was fired besides three Big East wins.

GPA
D+ (1.5)
This game was a showcase of everything going wrong during a game for a team. The only thing we did not see was someone tearing their ACL. And that might have been a welcome diversion from actually seeing this team fail to compete. This team decided to regress even further back, possibly to a Division 2 level, right past 1-AA. This team puts in its most futile effort and for that I was rewarded with a couple beers, some laughs, and a three hour block of wasted time. This team cannot get worse, and for the first time in history, UConn now has more wins against Syracuse than losses. If you’ll excuse me, I have a gun, a noose, and a bottle of bleach waiting for me to pick one of them.

Syracuse ends their home schedule and only have two road games left. As you have probably heard by now, yesterday Syracuse finally committed to getting a new head coach next season. With that, it is official that the Greg Robinson Era has an end date, and already I can feel the team getting better. Because honestly, even if we never recruit well again, at least the team will look better than one it does when you have a coach that knows what the hell they are supposed to do. Syracuse will travel to South Bend, Indiana next weekend to take on Notre Dame, another struggling program. Will Syracuse win? Probably not, but it will sure be fun to now root for them knowing that even a win will not keep Greg Robinson around anymore. The future is filled with endless possibilities, and I for once am satisfied, safe in the knowledge that Greg is finally done and we can all move forward.
Stay tuned later tonight for my complete and well thought out, non-knee jerk reactions to the entire Greg Robinson firing.

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BlogPoll Week 12

RankTeamDelta
1Alabama 1
2Texas Tech 1
3Texas --
4Florida --
5Oklahoma --
6Southern Cal --
7Penn State --
8Boise State --
9Ohio State --
10Utah --
11Georgia --
12Missouri --
13Oklahoma State --
14Ball State --
15Brigham Young --
16TCU --
17Michigan State --
18LSU --
19Cincinnati 3
20Pittsburgh 1
21Oregon State 4
22Maryland 4
23Miami (Florida) 3
24Oregon 2
25North Carolina 6

Dropped Out: Florida State (#20), Tulsa (#23), South Carolina (#24).
* Due to Alabama drubbing Miss. State and Texas Tech being inactive, I finally put Alabama as #1 in the poll.

* Although Florida put on one hell of a show against South Carolina and the old ball coach, I just cannot put them ahead of Texas yet. Perhaps next week will be the clincher.

* Slots 3-18 remain unchanged. That’s because the all won. For once.

* Cincy jumps three spots over Pitt by beating Louisville. But really who hasn’t. Either way they are the team to beat now in the Big East.

* Maryland jumps on after beating #16 North Carolina. The U appears after winning their fifth game in a row, this one against Virginia Tech in a hell of a Thursday night game. Keep in mind this was a Big East game just five years ago. Also, Oregon with all of their ugly uniforms make an appearance.

* FSU is bumped off by Boston College, Tulsa loses by 40 points to Houston, and South Carolina looked silly against Florida. They all leave my poll.

* Special thanks to John Radcliff at Mountainlair for giving a vote to Syracuse in his BlogPoll after getting rid of Greg Robinson, but even I am not batshit crazy enough to put them remotely near a poll.
* I'm looking to overtake the #1 spot for Mr. Stubborn this week. We'll see if I can do it.

What do you think?

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