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Syracuse entered Penn State a massive underdog. Obviously being a top ten team, Penn State would be most likely the toughest team that Syracuse will face all season. Despite the awesome Twitter exchanges we all had, most of us knew Syracuse was not upsetting the big time Big Ten team. Yet this game seemed like a step back for me, compared to last week, as Syracuse lost to Penn State in Happy Valley 28 to seven.

Kudos to Greg Paulus (14/20, 105yds, 1 TD, 2 INT) for scoring in this game and shutting Pat Forde the hell up, but let’s face it, they could have done waaaay better in this game. The two interceptions were not Paulus’ fault, but they did not help the cause. Alec Lemon has been a joke the past few games. Mike Williams also has no one to blame but himself for ending his consecutive touchdown streak, as he had an inexcusable drop in the end zone. Ryan Nassib did well in his passing debut, going four for five, which earns some credit, but overall the offense stalled because of their own ineptitude rather than good plays by Penn State. Thus, they earn their first bad grade of the semester.

The defense did about as well as they were supposed to do. They allowed 318 yards, 240 of which were through the air. Evan Royster is a big time running back, and proved it with massive yards after contact. There were several missed tackles in this game as well. However, a goal line stand against one of the best teams in the nation is a victory, and that gets them a solid B grade for this game. They also showed a spark and life that we never really saw in the Minnesota game. Additionally, they caused three turnovers as well. They did about as well as they could have against Penn State.

Special Teams
Syracuse missed their first field goal of the year, from Jake Smith. Other than that, they did alright. Donte Davis returned one punt for 14 yards. Mike Jones returned five kicks for 144 yards, averaging 28.8 yards per return. Rob Long punted five times for 209 yards total, averaging 41.8 yards per punt, and pinning one behind the 20. A solid day, but nothing too impressive. They would have gotten a better grade, but the missed field goal goes a long way, despite it being a long attempt.

The clock management in this game to close out the first half was pretty atrocious. Additionally, the play calling on several series (calling back the Coach P era with several runs up the middle) was not great. Towards the end of the game, instead of going for it on fourth down, Marrone decided to play the field position game, which could be seen as giving in as well. Just not a great, polished game. Although, on occasion, the play calling was brilliant, which earns them a solid C and not something worse.

C+ (2.43)
Overall, you cannot complain too much about this game. Syracuse was playing a top ten team, and only lost by 21 points. Considering the spread was much more, this was a victory over expectations. But that is not a win, nor was it that pretty to watch. However, there are many things that Syracuse did to themselves that Penn State did not force, that would have gone a long way to show that Syracuse was and is a good football team. Another game, another boatload of missed opportunities.

Syracuse is back in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome to take on another Big Ten team in the Northwestern Wildcats. Syracuse will look to build on their successes, and hopefully improve by catching balls and finding successes on the offensive end. Of course, Penn State is not the greatest confidence booster, so we will have to see how it all shakes out Saturday evening. At least this happened.


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