Picture Ryan Nassib running in slow motion to "Damn it feels good to be a gangsta"
It wasn't pretty. Nothing about it was. It was New Jersey. It got cold once the sun went down. Rutgers Stadium doesn't sell beer. Neither team was in any hurry to put up points. But when it mattered most, Ryan Nassib & Co. got the job done. Syracuse beats Rutgers 13-10 and becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2004!
All things considered, Nassib had himself a pretty decent game. Though he was sacked 64 times (not really), he still put up some pretty good numbers, possibly the best of all Big East matchups he's playing in thus far: he completed 16 of 31 pass attempts (52%) for 214 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The one touchdown was to Antwon Bailey in a play in the first quarter where Nassib actually had time to allow the play to develop, checked down on a couple of receivers as first options, and then just found a wide open Bailey down low who took the 4-yard pass into the end zone. It was a thing of beauty.
Also in on the receiving action were the usual suspects of Nick Provo and Van Chew, but seeing some more action this week were Marcus Sales (5 for 73 yards), and Adam Harris who pulled down a nice 19-yard completion. The nicest addition was obviously the emergence of Marcus Sales, who started this game and was otherwise having a very quiet 2010 campaign. With Alec Lemon having his own issues, it's good to know that Sales can come in and make some plays.
Of noted concern to me (not surprisingly) is the Syracuse offensive line. Its pass protection is non-existent. Here we are, 10 games into the season, and they still can't hold together and give Nassib time. Simply unacceptable. I've seen what head coach Doug Marrone has been able to do with the other units on the field, and he's taken mediocre talent and made it usable. Does this mean the o-line just has no talent to turn into anything? I don't know, but something's gotta give here. With a bowl line now on the horizon, I'd hate to see whatever name we're up against just embarrass Syracuse by face-planting Ryan Nassib on every passing attempt.
One more conference game coming up this Saturday against Connecticut at the Dome, followed by the regular season closer against Boston College on its traditional Saturday after Thanksgiving slot. Two very winnable games, until you remember that Syracuse hasn't played well in the Dome as of late, and now that bowl eligibility has been clinched, will these players simply go into automatic pilot? I don't think a Doug Marrone-coached team would, but you never know.