0 Comments Published on 11.16.2010 by Brian Harrison
It was as fine as any evening could be in NJ. Syracuse clinched a bowl.
It definitely wasn’t pretty. I agree with my colleague John in his assessment of the SU / Rutgers football contest. But on a final drive in which Syracuse traveled 66 yards, made Rutgers burn all of their time outs, and then got a go ahead score, it was perfection. In the stands it was a thing of beauty. On the field, it was a well earned release for seniors and upper classmen haunted by the ghosts of Greg Robinson and his losing ways. Syracuse earned more than a bowl with this win. They earned respect back. This has turned into a dream season for Syracuse fans as Syracuse clinching a bowl birth on their seventh win. They win two in a row over Rutgers, returning the world to its natural order, winning in Piscataway 13 to ten.
The Syracuse offense was pretty forgettable in the first half, save for one scoring drive in which Ryan Nassib had forever to find an open Antwon Bailey. The second half was just as pitiful, except for the final magical drive in which the team drove 66 yards in 2:44 to get a 24 yard field goal. Ryan Nassib (16/31, 214yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) had flashes of good moments, and at times looked bad underthrowing and lofting balls he should be more accurate with. Three turnovers do not help either. Delone Carter and Bailey were the stars of the offense in this game, along with Marcus Sales, who led the team in receptions and yards, appeared out of nowhere to be very solid and contribute in that final drive as well. The offensive line really had trouble on occasion, as well as a needless personal foul to kill some momentum. Overall, the offense was not that good, but they were good enough when they needed to be.
They held Rutgers to only 280 yards total, caused one turnover, and almost had another but the fumble went out of bounds. They allowed Rutgers to run the ball out of the Wildcat set up the middle too many times to mention for big gains though, which was extremely frustrating to watch. When we as fans in the top of Rutgers Stadium can see they are going to run up the middle, surely the defense should right? However, they managed to stop Rutgers behind the line, and then get a sack to push Rutgers just out of field goal range, with a little help from a bad snap. Really, they only allowed one touchdown, and held Rutgers scoreless in the last quarter. They also only allowed ten total points for Rutgers in this defensive heavy game. Despite bending, they never really broke except the one touchdown drive for Rutgers. Syracuse did manage in the final analysis to hold both Rutgers QBs to low numbers as well and get sacks when needed. An impressive day overall.
Ross Krautman is your hero in this one. The local NJ project got it done with family in attendance. He drilled a career long 48 yard attempt, and scored the go ahead points with 1:07 to go from 24 yards out on the difficult right hash. Rob Long did his job, punting well in this important position game. Kick and punt returns were also again solid. This might have been the special team’s best overall day this season.
Syracuse allowed Rutgers to gain too many yards on the ground in the wildcat set. They knew Rutgers was going to use it over and over, and yet they continued to let Rutgers gain chunks of yards and first downs with it. No adjustments were made to put more people up on the line, or bring coverage out to help with run stopping. Similarly, I liked the call going for it on 4th down in the game that needed sparks on offense, but the play call was bad. When you are within inches, why not just QB sneak the ball over the line and get a fresh set of downs. Instead the quarterback had to drop back three yards to hand the ball off, where Carter was stopped behind the line by a dominant Rutgers defense at that moment. With a changed snap count, and a QB sneak, that would have been a drive that was able to be continued. Either way, a few questionable calls, not too many adjustments, and some interesting choices on offense. Shotgun formation anyone? Still no on that?
It’s hard to be too upset when the result goes in your favor, but this game could have easily ended up lost in regulation or overtime because of the inability for the offense to put together sustained drives. Overall the defense and special teams did their jobs, and the offense did when it was absolutely necessary, after their initial score. The team played hard and together, and this win is all the more impressive looking at where the team is during the year and the physical toll football has, as well as the scholarship levels for Syracuse. I’ll take it, along with a bowl bid thanks.
B+ to the amount of SU fans that showed up in Piscataway. There were three big groups of orange around the stadium, and many more scattered around. It was nice to see a heavy road presence in person, and a fun atmosphere to enjoy a win in.
A to all the nice Syracuse fans that approached myself, John, or Matt Glaude. Not only was your timing spot on, but all of the conversations were enjoyable.
F to the Rutgers fan that screamed at me out of the blue on the concourse “Fuck you Syracuse!” You stay classy Rutgers.
A to all of the tributes and fundraising efforts for injured Rutgers player Eric LeGrand. Even Syracuse fans helped support such a brave individual who has been the victim of a tragedy.
Syracuse will now take on hated Connecticut, the next best thing to a rival Syracuse has after West Virginia and lately Rutgers. Randy Edsall is now the perfect villain for Syracuse fans, and he continues to play that part well. I’ll have my preview out later this week, but who honestly knows what will happen? What we do know will happen is that Syracuse is bowling for the first time since 2004 after earning their seventh and clinching win against a Rutgers team struggling to find wins as the season fades. But I’ll enjoy this one, as it has been a long time. Syracuse sweeps their conference road slate, winning all four games for the first time in Syracuse history. I was at the last two Syracuse bowls, and I look forward to seeing this one as well. Hell, This notebook didn’t even exist the last time Syracuse went to a Bowl Game.
Programming Note: I will not be having any Postgame Reactions for the first two basketball games of the season. I was on the road and couldn't give them my usual attention in watching, so we'll pick up with the Detroit game, as handled by John Brennan. I'll be back next week with full coverage of the Connecticut game, and the basketball therein.