Countdown to Football Frustration

Next Frustrating Hoops Victory

Next Lacrosse Annihilation

Cue the Trick-or-Treating Child

Like Scrooge McDuck swimming around in his money vault, Syracuse fans have a lot to be happy about!

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Cincinnati Quick Predictions

Angry Dick will crush you!
Editor's Note: Usually predictions go out on Fridays but will be out of town for a wedding, so therefore enjoy my preview/predictions a day early.
Syracuse is coming off a huge upset victory over #20 West Virginia on the road. The last time that happened earlier this year at USF, Syracuse turned around and got smashed at home. That should not happen this time.
The big news of this week is QB Zach Collaros is injured on his knee and has been seen on crutches and has practiced limitedly this week. Collaros is the best QB in the league right now, so this would be a huge blow to their offense. Chazz Anderson is his backup, and while he has had some success and is 2-0 in starts in his career, he is not Collaros. This provides a huge opportunity for Syracuse's defense to again be dominant. Additionally, Cincy's defense let USF pass all over them. Ryan Nassib, if given proper protection at the line, should be able to do some more prolific things in the passing game this week, not having to rely solely on Carter and the running game to open up the offense. Cincinnati's defense is not that good, and it is by no means as good as West Virginia's last week, so this should be a fine opportunity for Syracuse to move the ball and put points on the board. I think this game will probably be as simple as that. If Collaros plays it will be interesting to see what Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer dials up against the Cincy offense. If he doesn't play, it will again be interesting to see what Syracuse will do. Either way, I expect Syracuse to win a close game. Look for Syracuse to win over Cincinnati 17 to 13.
This game will again be nationally televised, this time on ESPN U. Again this should be a fun one. It is Cincinnati's Homecoming, so Syracuse will look to be 3-0 on the road versus homecoming teams. Very interesting.

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Cincinnati Q&A With Bearcats Blog

A bearcat still isn't that cool.

Syracuse has a pretty important game this Saturday with Cincinnati. Cincinnati has been one of those up and down teams in the league this year (like everyone else) so I thought we better go to the expert. The first Cincinnati blogger out there was Scott King of Bearcats Blog. So he's basically the Orange::44 of Cincinnati blogs. He was nice enough to take some time and answer some questions on the upcoming game and just what the hell is going on with the league this year. Enjoy.

1. Orange::44: Admit it. You're kind of impressed with how Syracuse is playing right now and this season?

Bearcats Blog: Of course. If someone says they aren't impressed with the Orange, they are lying liars who lie. Syracuse stopped WVU after the first quarter, and generally tortured Geno Smith. The running game has been very impressive. I like Antwon Bailey a whole lot, and even with Carter playing, I'm worried about Bailey.

2. Orange::44: Cincinnati went down to the wire, but just couldn't seem to hold off or beat USF. What are the main issues with Cincinnati right now?

BB: The main thing that stands out to me are gigantic lapses in concentration. The defense will play well, but get lost on an assignment that ends up being a TD. It happened on the spectacular Powell run against Louisville, and it happened at least three times on huge pass plays against USF. The offense had a ton of drops against USF, including what could have been a first down at the end of the game. The offensive line is still an issue. The Bearcats couldn't run the ball against Fresno or USF, which is rather odd because they both have SFU in their initials. If Syracuse stuffs the UC run, I'll add an f to make it 3 for 3.

3. Orange::44: Zach Collaros is on crutches. His start appears doubtful versus Syracuse. Your thoughts?

BB: Obviously it's a huge blow the way he's been playing the past few weeks. Chazz Anderson has started a couple of games, and splits with Collaros in practice, but he's obviously not to the level of Collaros. Anderson has talent, but it is an unknown. He can make throws, and Cincinnati has had pretty good success with their back ups the past few years.

4. Orange::44: Give me your best explanation of what the heck is going on in the Big East this year?

BB: The talent levels have become closer. Granted, some of the teams have much better talent, but their players are inexperienced or injured. Everyone has some players. The new coaches have brought something new to the conference as well. Charlie Strong and Doug Marrone have gotten the programs turned around. Butch Jones and Skip Holtz are suffering from a talent/experience drop off in their programs. I still expect WVU and Pitt to battle for the title, just like everyone thought in the preseason. In that way, nothing has changed.

5. Orange::44: What will the key matchups be in the Syracuse / Cincinnati tilt?

BB: The Syracuse OLine v. the Cincinnati DLine. The Bearcats were pushed around by Louisville to the extreme. Syracuse, like Louisville, isn't going to beat Cincinnati throwing the ball, so it's very important to contain the run. If the Orange can use ball control and clock control, they can keep it close. Fresno St did that to UC last year.

6. Orange::44: Finally, how do you see the game going and what is your final score?

BB: I think it's going to be a good game. I don't really see a ton of points being scored. I think the Bearcats will find a way to win however, because I'm a pretty big homer. It's probably the biggest game of the UC season, because they would have to pretty much win out to get a bowl game if they lose. I'll say Cincinnati 24, Syracuse 20.

Thanks to Scott for the insight and the time. You can follow him on twitter right here. It's good stuff. My answers to his questions are posted here, so you should check those out as well. Should be a good one this Saturday folks, with a decent amount riding on it for both teams. Be sure to check out Bearcats Blog for the Cincinnati prospective leading up to the game.

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BlogPoll 2010 - Week 9

*I apologies for no deltas this week. I failed to submit a ballot last week and that is the result.
*West Virginia drops out, along with Air Force and Washington. VTech, Baylor, and yes the Syracuse Orange earn a vote in my ballot this week.
*Because there are no deltas it's kind of pointless explaining the drops and rises but take a look and let me know if anything is crazy. I think I'm pretty good this week though.

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Good to see you again. It's been a while.

I was wrong. I am completely fine with being wrong. All logic dictated that Syracuse should and would lose in Morgantown this past weekend. Syracuse had not beaten West Virginia since 2001. West Virginia was ranked the 20th best team in the country. By all measures West Virginia had more talent than Syracuse. None of it mattered. The Syracuse defense, and the team as a whole, did just enough to beat West Virginia, get back to second place in the Big East, and beat the #20 team in the nation. They earned respect and a statement win of this program in the Doug Marrone era. West Virginia falls to the Orange 19 to 14.

Offense
C+

This really isn’t the offense’s fault. Syracuse was facing one of the toughest defenses in the country. Delone Carter was knocked out in the second quarter with a bruised hip. Syracuse faced a lot of adversity in this one, and still somehow managed to play a smart, grinding football game that really put a premium on field position. Ryan Nassib (5/15, 63yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) did not dazzle anyone with his effort on the day. But he managed to do what Syracuse needed. He held onto the ball and did not give it away to West Virginia. Delone Carter finished with 75 yards on nine carries before he left, and then Antwon Bailey took over nicely, earning 94 yards on 19 carries. Syracuse again needs to improve its third down conversions as they only had four of 14 as well. They only earned 246 yards on the day, which was a problem as well. Syracuse failed to earn seven points on several red zone trips, having to settle for field goals. Granted they were facing a tough defense, but Syracuse needs to find a way to score in those situations. Overall an average day for the offense, but it was enough, which against this tough a team is pretty astounding.

Defense
A

The defense is the reason Syracuse won the game. Syracuse held West Virginia scoreless for the final three quarters of this game. Not only that, but Syracuse intercepted Geno Smith three times, one of which from inside the end zone. Smith was held to only 178 yards and a touchdown as well. The Syracuse secondary, on occasion, would allow a somewhat big or important pass play in this game to allow drives to continue. They also received some costly personal foul penalties, most correct, some not. However, West Virginia only went 6-17 on third down conversions, 1-2 on fourth down conversions, and only gained 284 total yards on the day. For a defense that was essentially outmatched on paper, they sure got to the quarterback, pressured him, and after his second interception, Smith was clearly shaken the rest of the day. This was an excellent effort from Doug Hogue, Chandler Jones, Mikhail Marinovich, and the entire front seven. And the secondary held when they needed too as well.

Special Teams
B

This grade should be lower. Max Suter gave West Virginia a free possession well into their own territory, which is still unacceptable. However Ross Krautman kicked four field goals (28, 19, 33, 22) and an extra point on the day which gave Syracuse the scoring edge. Additionally, Rob Long finally proved he deserved to be mentioned as the best punter in the league after some marginal games. He kicked six times for a total of 310 yards, two of which were inside the 20, and one that landed on the six yard line that was brilliantly covered by the team. Additionally, the punt coverage, and even kick coverage this game, were excellent.

Coaching
A

How perfect was the defensive game plan from Scott Shafer? You saw various coverages in this game that we have not seen before, including showing false blitzes and then dropping back in coverage. And Geno Smith looked bewildered by the coverage on several occasions. You saw this after an adjustment as well. In the first few series Geno Smith and the WVU defense moved the ball with relative ease. After scoring their second touchdown West Virginia failed to score again. That was huge and excellent coaching on the part of Syracuse. While the offense couldn’t really adjust, they still got some key first downs when needed, and the calls were good, they were simply getting beat by an excellent West Virginia defense. A very solid day from the standpoint of the staff though.

GPA
B+ (3.325)

“The defense played lights out today. There’s no arguing that.” That quote from QB Ryan Nassib sums up the day perfectly. Football is a team game, and the 11 players on defense deserve a hell of a lot of credit for this win. West Virginia, due to their long, sustained drive at the end of the game ultimately to no avail, gave WVU the time of possession edge. The Syracuse defense held strong, and in four down territory provided the coverage needed to prevent a Geno Smith pass, but also the pressure to get to him and sack him twice in a row to end the WVU drive and assure Syracuse the victory. While there are still some problems with the offense in a game like this, you cannot be too upset by beating the #20 team in the country through field position, physical defense, and being smart with the football.

Syracuse next takes on Cincinnati. The Orange are 2-0 on opponent’s Homecomings. It is Cincinnati’s Homecoming this upcoming weekend. Additionally, Cincinnati is coming off a weeknight loss to USF, a team that looks to have its act together. Cincinnati has been, like every team in the Big East, pretty bi-polar. On occasion looking good, other times looking bad. Either way, it should be an entertaining game and another opportunity for Syracuse to show what they are capable and demonstrate that this is a solid football team and that they simply had a bad game against Pittsburgh. Either way, should be an entertaining one.

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Monday Morning Quarterback 10/25/10

Sometimes you just don't have to be good
Let me preface this article by saying I didn't actually watch this game. Rather, I was driving down to Philadelphia to watch the San Francisco Giants win the NL Pennant and move on to the World Series. So I had the honor and privilege to listen to Sirius to the call from Matt Park. Hey, better than Pam Ward or whatever nutjob espn2 threw out there. So of course, it was great to heard Matt Park call this 19-14 Syracuse victory at Morgantown.
The stat line for Ryan Nassib, the winning quarterback, is as follows: Five completions on 15 attempts (33%) for 63 yards and a touchdown. That should never be the stat line for a winning quarterback, but when the rest of the squad is playing at the top of its game, this is what can happen. Van Chew caught the lone touchdown early in this one, and had another reception for a total of 46 yards, making him the "favorite target" on the day. He also had a drop early in the game. Others in on the passing game included Antwon Bailey (2 catches for 11 yards) and Nick Provo (1 catch for 6 yards).
Often times when Nassib dropped back to pass, Matt Park would exclaim "Nassib hit as he throws!" Listening on the radio, I couldn't tell whether the coverage was just too good, or whether the o-line was breaking down, or what. But I feel like Nassib was hurried too much in this game, which seriously effected his accuracy.
I suppose this is now cause for concern. This is the third game in a row where Nassib hasn't been all that & a bag of potato chips. Is it because we're seeing tougher competition now? Is it fundamentals? Is it bad practicing? Now, to be fair, I don't think we have a quarterback controversy -- nobody's calling for Nassib to be benched in lieu of Charley Loeb. But you've got to wonder just how many more games Syracuse will be able to win if Ryan Nassib doesn't get back to where he was the first third of the season. I mean, the schedule ahead isn't that daunting, but it's still the Big East. Anything can happen.
Halloween weekend is coming up, and Syracuse travels to Cincinnati to face the Bearcats. Since this is the Big East and anybody has a shot to beat anybody (especially after Syracuse beat the best team in the league on their own turf) I have to say Syracuse can win this. But will they? A lot of that rests with Ryan Nassib. No pressure, buddy!

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Cue The Kid With Puppies...

An unbelievable upset deserves maximum cuteness.

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West Virginia Quick Predictions

If only Syracuse was good like it was the 90's again.
After a humiliating loss to Pittsburgh at home on Homecoming, Syracuse now turns around to go on the road and take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia, a team that has beaten Syracuse eight times in a row. Oh and they are also currently ranked 20th. No big deal right?
Syracuse had a bad game last week. Their talent is higher than what they displayed on the field. Ryan Nassib has proved a skilled quarterback and has shown excellent decision making and passing ability all year, save for the last game. Similarly the Syracuse defense has been stout all season, and should have been tougher against Pittsburgh. Again, I honestly chalk it up to a bad day on the field. However, Syracuse is playing what I consider, and the voters consider, the best team in the league, that has shown the most consistency over the season so far. But make no mistake, West Virginia is far more talented than Syracuse. They boast the best defense in the league, they have a major target in WR Jock Sanders, and they have proven Orange killer RB Noel Devine. Additionally, WR Tavon Austin leads the Mountaineers in reception yards, and rookie QB Geno Smith has proved an excellent passer and may be better than his predecessor. All in all, this team has a great offense and a great defense. It just needs a great coach and who knows how good the Mountaineers could be, especially this season. Either way, I wish I could say that Syracuse could put up a fight here, but I just don't see how they could against WVU. This is the one team I knew Syracuse couldn't beat all year. Pittsburgh gave us hope, but there is none against this tough team. Can we even call this a rivalry game anymore? A rivalry implies we win this game once in a while. Either way, look for Syracuse to lose, as expected 38 to 17.
This game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN 2 at 12:00pm. While everyone in the country can watch our game, it will not be a good one for Syracuse fans to check out. This team is getting better, but West Virginia is just too good for us. So really, this game will not be so bad because we aren't supposed to win this one anyway. Try and have a good Saturday. A much more winable game awaits next week.

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I felt that way a few times too Doug.

Offense
C
Syracuse never seemed to be in a rhythm all day except for their first scoring drive in the first half, including a long pass and catch to Alec Lemon and some solid running by Delone Carter. After that Syracuse appeared to be in shambles on offense. While gaining more first downs than Pittsburgh (21), they were only 4-13 on third down conversions. Similarly, even though Ryan Nassib racked up an reasonable 231 yards in the air, he never looked great only earning one touchdown and two interceptions. While one interception was a tipped ball, the other was totally his fault and he looked dull all day. In 25 total rush attempts, only 77 yards were gained as well, equaling a not great and not bad day on the field.

Defense
C
Pittsburgh may not have been able to run at will, despite gaining 123 rush yards, but they certainly could pass at will. Tino Sunseri is not a great quarterback. He hasn’t looked good all year. But Syracuse made him look like a Heisman hopeful going 17/24, 266 yards, 11.1 yard average, and four touchdowns. Syracuse allowed 389 total yards, but more importantly they allowed 45 points to be put on the board. Syracuse has had stout defense, including not allowing a touchdown to be scored by USF in the previous week. That was not the case this week. Syracuse again did not look sharp and mental lapses contributed to a bad day on defense save for a few awesome sacks.

Special Teams
C
Pittsburgh did to Syracuse what Syracuse did to Colgate, by reversing the field on a return and gaining a HUGE return. Rob Long also did not have a good day in punting as well. Honestly, this was an average day, thus the C.

Coaching
C
Doug Marrone and his staff were outcoached. Plain and simple. The team didn’t come ready to play and that has to fall on Marrone and his staff. That about sums it up.

GPA
C (2.0)

The bottom line is that Pittsburgh played above their heads and Syracuse did not help themselves by playing below their abilities, both on offense and defense. Syracuse made Sunseri look like a Heisman hopeful. And he is not. Nor is Pittsburgh that great. But they played their game, and Syracuse did not play at their best and what we had seen of them lately. Thus Pittsburgh walks away with a big win, and Syracuse loses a lot of confidence and loses some well earned momentum on the season.

Intangibles

A to the crowd that were in the Dome at kickoff.

B to the crowd in the second quarter.

D to the crowd in the third quarter.

A to my friends that came out and I got to see this past weekend. Always a good time.

A+ to the meal I had at Tully’s. I hadn’t eaten there in many months and it was delicious and outstanding as I watched college football, playoff baseball, and various other sports on large televisions.

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Monday Morning Quarterback 10/18/10

A Homecoming of sorts? Same as it ever was.
There are basically two kinds of people in the Syracuse world right now. The first is the syracuse.com message board poster, the guy who says that the four wins were flukes and the team sucks and won't win another game the rest of the season. The other is the eternal optimist, who thinks the loss to Pitt was just the team having a bad day, and that the team will march into Morgantown this Saturday and beat up on the Mountaineers. So of course, I have to make a third category since I'm not an extremist.
Fact is, while this team does have some talent and surely has a lot of potential, they just flat out played horribly on Saturday, losing to Pittsburgh 45-14. There's not a specific unit to blame for this one; it truly was a team effort. However, for purposes of why you read my rant each Monday morning, I'll focus on the offense, specifically the quarterback.
Ryan Nassib, starting the sixth game of his college career, did not play well. After having a "meh" game against South Florida, he may have regressed. On the day against Pitt, he completed 25 passes on 46 attempts (54%) for 231 yards, a touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Take the INTs out of it and it looks like a decent game. But it wasn't. Nassib really only had one great pass the entire game, a shot down the field on Syracuse's second drive of the game, responding to Pitt's score. The 41-yard bomb to Alec Lemon eventually set up a 1-yard dive by Delone Carter to tie the game at 7. That's as close as Syracuse would get in this one.
Even in garbage time in the 4th quarter, Ryan Nassib was not impressive. Throughout the game, he was overthrowing receivers, sometimes throwing at their feet, or just plain not accurate enough for these guys to catch. It was frustrating, because we've seen just how accurate Nassib had been in the first four games this season, and then for him to phone it in last week and then just plain not show up this week... ugh. He's in a funk, as everyone else is saying. I'd rather not steal words, but I'm too lazy right now to look up "funk" synonyms, so we'll stick with funk.
Unfortunately, it's not like Syracuse has another Maine or Colgate to rebound with next week like they did after they lost to Washington. Syracuse travels this week to Morgantown, West Virginia. The Mountaineers are pretty clearly the best team in the Big East this season. In a league where anything could happen to anybody, they've done a good job of keeping their noses relatively clean. Add to that the fact that West Virginia is always a tough place to play at and, well, I don't like the outlook for Syracuse. Ryan Nassib will need to find a way out of his funk if Syracuse will even make this a close game. I don't know what the answer is. I know he has the skill and the talent, so maybe this is a mental thing. If so, I'm sure Head Coach Doug Marrone has some choice motivational words for Ryan.
In the meantime, we're all back down to reality and can realize that this team still only has to go .500 over these remaining six games to make it to a bowl game. That's something that I, as a member of that new third kind of person in the Syracuse world, can believe.

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Cue The Crying Child...

Just about as bad as that could have gone.

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Pittsburgh Quick Predictions

This is a big game for both teams.
Syracuse shocked many people by beating South Florida last weekend on the road in Tampa for their first Big East road win in forever. Now Pittsburgh comes into the Carrier Dome, a team Syracuse hasn't beaten since 2004. While Pittsburgh has underwhelmed they are still a talented team, but this is Syracuse on Homecoming with a huge, orange crowd expected.
Pittsburgh's problems really derive from the QB position. Tino Sunseri has not panned out as well as hoped, and the coaching staff's confidence in him is thin. Although he has good numbers, Pittsburgh has straight out looked terrible in some of their games, especially against Miami at home. Pittsburgh has some great weapons in RB Ray Graham and WR Jon Baldwin, but when a defense can stop a run, and your QB is pressured so he can't throw well, what good do they do? On the other hand, we still do not know how good the Syracuse secondary is because the only test they really have had was Washington and they failed that one. Syracuse will be facing some very talented wideouts and unlike BJ Daniels, Sunseri could actually hit them when they are open most likely. But then there is the Syracuse defense. The front seven are about as good as you'll find in the Big East right now. They pressured and contained BJ Daniels and every other quarterback they have faced this season, even Jake Locker (by contained, I mean prevented them from running all over the place, nothing to do with passing). Is this Pitt team talented? Yes. Will they find vast and instant success against Syracuse's defense? Doubtful. Now, people know I'm a huge Syracuse homer, but my picks and predictions have an air of integrity that try to be as objective as one could be. And this game will be close. It could come down to another big fourth quarter drive for either Pittsburgh or Syracuse. Dave The Mustache has never lost in the Carrier Dome, but he almost did a couple years ago when Syracuse was leading a great portion of the game. And that wasn't even homecoming. And that team was just as talented as the current team. I think the crowd will be a huge factor in this game however, as the Dome looks to be well above 40 k for this affair, mostly in orange. Again this game will be close, and I'm giving the edge to Syracuse. This game will be a grinder just like Syracuse v. USF was. If both teams are having good days this will be a very entertaining football game. But Pitt fans, don't be delusional. I've been saying all year this is a better Syracuse team than in the last six years. It's true. Pittsburgh will not be crushing the Orange early and often like in previous years. If you think so, you are a Pitt homer who hasn't been paying attention to the other teams in the league. Much like in basketball, when these two teams play it will be a game, no matter the status of either team. But I like the momentum Syracuse has right now, how full the Dome will be, and how loud the crowd should be. Syracuse fans are whipped in a frenzy right now over the USF win still, and this is Homecoming. Syracuse I think wins a close game for even more respectability. Well as much as you can winning a game in the Big East right now. For Syracuse that's huge. Look for the Orange to take down Pittsburgh 23 to 14.
This is again the Big East game of the week. It will be shown locally in upstate NY on TWCS, but it appears that it will be on SNY as well. This one's a nooner, so get your beers and such in early. While I'll be doing a modest tailgate this fine Saturday morning in light showers, look for me on the Quad as we'll be pulling out all the stops singing the Fight Song, Alma Mater, and any other traditions we can manage to remember. Homecoming is a time to visit with friends and enjoy the good times you used to have and still have. So have fun, be safe, check out our annual Guide to Homecoming right here if you haven't already. And as always GO ORANGE!

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Your Guide To Homecoming: 2010 Edition

Another year, another time to return with friends.

Editor's Note: Syracuse has made a huge effort to re-brand Homecoming "Orange Central". This is unacceptable. It forever should be known as Homecoming, one of the few traditions Syracuse actually has that isn't fake or manufactured and has been going on for years. I don't care that Homecoming doesn't fit neatly into a #hashtag, and I don't think something as simple, pure, and nice as Homecoming needs a makeover. It's Homecoming. And it forever will be known as such here on this blog, and apparently at the Athletic Department as well. And even on the "Orange Central" homepage in pictures too.

Producing a guide to homecoming has become a tradition here at Orange::44. This year will be no exception. Bars and restaurants come and go, but the solid advice on where to eat or drink will remain constant here in this guide. As always, enjoy your time back. It's fleeting, so choose wisely. This guide should help.

Food On The Hill
El Saha – The cheapest pita on Louis Marshall Way. With delicious options to cram in your pita, an entertaining staff, and usually South Park or Family Guy on the television, this is where I usually stop for a Pita, but lately they have been slipping. You might want to go with the always solid Pita Pit.

Pita Pit – For you traditionalists out there, you will probably still want to head to your old favorite. It is slightly more pricy, but they offer a few more toppings, an artsy menu, and everything is amazing with bacon. But really, that is just a good rule for life.

Jimmy John’s – The smells are free, but sadly the subs are not. This sandwich shop is delicious however. Their bread is baked fresh, the staff is bizarre, and now they do not use the till money to buy drugs. I always have a ridiculous conversation with a stranger in here as well. Could be some perfect post-bar entertainment before you head home.

Sliders – A brand new burger joint. The burgers are pretty good, they are made to order, and you can get regular or slider size as well. They have Belgian fries as well, which means they are crispy on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside. I recommend this place if you are hungry for a burger on your nightly journey.

Jreck Subs – This sandwich place is in the place where Konrad’s used to occupy. I think you’re probably better off just going to Jimmy John’s if you are looking for a sub however. This place seems pretty noteworthy for being completely not noteworthy.

Cosmo’s Pizza – A classic joint that has a greasy diner feel. Their pizza is good, but I would go for any number of other choices they offer. Finish the deal with a THB and a scoop of vanilla.

Varsity Pizza – The best cheese steak on the hill. They also have many other tasty choices, plenty of tables, decent pizza, and if we beat the other team come on down after the game and see the band flip the banner over. Beware, you are on the clock if you eat the pizza.

Faegan’s Pub – For something a little more upscale, this is probably the place you should be. With a multitude of salads, burgers, wraps, and sandwiches you have plenty of options. Also, with over 40 beers on tap, you can find something to go with any meal. Just get there during the day, as they close down the kitchen around niner. More on this later.

Aladdin’s – This place offers several natural and organic choices, for the more health conscious. I’ve only ever eaten here a handful of times but it hasn’t really disappointed me. The desserts are also great here.

Acropolis Pizza – They have subs and the usual fare. Nothing too remarkable. Why go here when you can just go to Cosmo’s though. Upside is that they do serve alcohol.

Insomnia Cookies – Perfect for that late night sweet tooth craving. They have cookies, frozen treats, and other assorted sweets. Not my cup of tea at 2:00am, but feel free as this is a nice place.

Food In Syracuse
Tully’s – Located on Erie Blvd. and in Liverpool this is the ultimate sports bar in Syracuse. With a shit ton of TV’s, excellent food ranging from appetizers to dinners, and the best chicken tenders (Tully’s Tenders) in Syracuse, this will surely cure your hunger, especially if you want to watch a game. Just get there early if you are going on a Sunday.

Spaghetti Warehouse – With a seemingly endless dining room, and a lot of pasta options, this is the place for Italian. The Marsala may cost you, but the bread is free. Especially tasty when dining with friends in the trolley car. Not a bad pick for decent pasta.

Pastabilities – A bit more upscale than the Warehouse, it is a favorite of many folks on the hill. While not my favorite, there are plenty of tasty options on the menu, and it is conveniently located near all of your favorite downtown bars.
Empire Brewing Company – A small underground restaurant that has a small but somewhat fancy menu. They brew their own beer and can pair it with any meal you choose which is also very nice. Try the burgers, or if you are feeling frugal the Chicken Po’ Boy. A little pricy, but fairly worth it.
Syracuse Suds – This bar also makes their own beer and has an extensive sports bar type menu. The appetizers are very good here and they serve some great steaks as well. Finish it off with some homemade root beer.

Zebb’s – Way out in Mattydale just off I-81, it is a hidden gem. I feel like not many SU kids know about this one. It has a diner feel, with most standard American fare. They have a “Build Your Own Burger Bar”, you can get shots of vanilla, cherry, or chocolate flavor in your cola, and they have the definitive appetizer menu in the Syracuse area. In the mood for alcohol? Try the mojito. I don’t think it’s a gay drink. Moooooo-heeeeeeeee-tooooooooo. Also, if you are allergic to nuts, stay away from the cookies. Bastards.

Alto Cinco – Located on Wescott Street, this places offers good, authentic Mexican food. There is usually a hell of a wait, but you can make the time pass with margaritas and Coronas at the bar. Truth be told I’ve never eaten here, but everyone raves that I should have included this on the list years ago, so here you all go.

Dinosaur BBQ – The most famous of all the Syracuse eateries. Without a doubt, the best BBQ you can get in all of Upstate New York. Syracuse is the original location and also the most colorful. Enjoy the “Big Ass Pork Plate” or sample the two best meals with a House Special of a quarter rack of ribs and a quarter chicken. The sides are also especially delicious and if salt potatoes are on the specials it is a must.

Bars On The Hill
Chuck’s – What could best be described as a hole in the wall. Graffiti covers the walls, but the pitchers flow well here. During Friday Happy Hour pitchers are $3/5, and while they do not have an impressive menu, their fries do the trick. This bar gets awfully crowded with bitchy undergrads wearing pink shirts and popped collars. If that is your thing then this is your bar. Also, current and former basketball players like to hang out here, so maybe you could celebrity spot as well.

Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar – Make my day and e-mail me if you actually go to this bar. How is this place still open?

Darwin’s Pub – RIP.

Faegan’s Pub – The gold standard in Marshall Street Bars. With over 40 beers on tap and bartenders that are skilled in the craft of making drinks and shots, this is where most alumni end up. While there are not many specials on Friday, it is vastly less crowded and a much better atmosphere than Chuck’s. Say hi to Guy for me and tell him Mr. Harrison sent you.

Harry's – This bar has a small place in my heart, as my father's cousin was Harry. However, he long sold the bar before I got to the hill so no free drinks for me. This bar is ideal for MNF watching and eating wings. However, you will not be in town on Monday. Not a bad option for a bar choice though. It is solid with decent food and probably not a big crowd.

The Sheraton Hotel – While I would not stay here all night, they do have free wings and pizza for a couple hours starting at five. If you are a broke alumni with a lot of debt, maybe you should start out here.

Bars In Armory Square
Mully’s – This Irish bar is undistinguishable in every way. They have booze and you don’t. Who’s more Irish?

PJ’s Pub and Grille– It will forever be known as PJ Dorsey's to me. This is a fun little bar with room, dancing, and a favorite of mine as I spent my 21st birthday there. Nothing too remarkable about it, but again, they have drinks and you want some. This could be a really fun place.

The Blue Tusk – This is the most expensive place downtown, but it could be worth it if you enjoy rare brews and an upscale atmosphere. A LOT of beers on tap. Also, the back room is the perfect place to sit down, enjoy the company of friends, and some fine ales.

Bar – This is an upscale place with a dress code and loud music. It is also very dark. Perfect for being sketchy if you are into that sort of thing. The bartenders know what they are doing, so you’ll be good to go. This would not be my first choice though.

Syracuse Suds – This bar is also a micro-brewery. Nowhere else in Syracuse can you get a root beer keg. A lot of older people come here so it will not get out of hand, but it is a nice, chill place to drink some beers and they have a very solid food selection.

Empire Brewing Company – This is also a quite place to enjoy some freshly brewed local beers. This is like an Irish pub, but instead of Guinness try the Blueberry Wheat.
There are plenty of other restaurants and bars I am forgetting about, but really, this is the guide. If it is not on this list, you either should not waste your time or you already know about it because it is not that popular but you like it anyway. Both cases are fine.

Kitty Hoynes – This is a pretty authentic Irish pub and as such as a really great fairly authentic food menu if you are craving some things made with Guinness. They have some great beers on tap as well. Highly recommended if you want a great chill pub experience.

Daisy Dukes / Vinyl – This is a “cowboy” bar and a dance club on the back. It can be fun on occasion and a lot of hot girls like to get crazy here which is a plus. They also have a mechanical bull there for that added level of white trash. Then you can get sketchy in the back dancing the night away. Not my true cup of tea, but a lot of people enjoy this place and it is fun to slum it once in a while.

Now is some advice to carry you through the weekend that I always give:

•It is important to remember that no matter how drunk you get, you do not live off campus anymore. Try not to show up to a former residence and try to break in just because you used to live there.

•This one is for the younger kids; Homecoming is too short for you to deal with drama and people trying to make you feel like crap. Avoid people that you would have a problem with and just hang out with people you enjoy.

•Tailgating is an art. Respect it and it will respect you.

•If you hate Nancy Cantor like my friends do, enjoy a nice pee on Nancy’s $6 million wall. It is the world’s most expensive outdoor urinal.

•Enjoy the sights and sounds of your old campus, but avoid public safety. They still have guns.

•Enjoy some beers on the quad. It is private property after all. Just don’t sneak into Maxwell Hall to shotgun some beers like you did back in the day.

•Bring two pairs of shoes. You never know if your buddy will pee in them.

Everything above is just solid advice. Feel free to ignore it, but you may come to regret it.

For any other non-drinking/official Syracuse events, check out the official Homecoming schedule right here.

Syracuse will take on Pittsburgh at 12:00pm in the Carrier Dome. While tailgating will only be had by the truly dedicated because the game is a nooner, you can still enjoy some debauchery before heading into a full and very orange Carrier Dome. Be sure to enjoy your time if you are making the trip back, enjoy the game win or lose, and as GO ORANGE!

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BlogPoll 2010 - Week 7

*Alabama drops ten spots to #11 after being #1 in the poll since week 1. As a result, the Gamecocks jump ten spots as well to #10. Ohio State is your new #1.
*USC loses so I can finally drop them out. Thank you Lane. Hello Air Force, and thank you for your future service.
*Gators lose in a close one so they drop eight, but hang on at #23. LSU beat them, but I drop them five because I think the teams I moved ahead of them are better and LSU is running in miracles.
*Oregon State drops one after a win, but again I think they are right where they should be with the teams around them. Same with the other teams that dropped even if they won in a close game.
What do you think?

Enjoy the celebrating. You earned it.

Not only has Syracuse won a Big East game, not only was it on the road, but it is the first win Syracuse has had over the South Florida Bulls in program history. A monumental win that shows a shift in the reputation of Syracuse. Despite the fact that the Big East is facing a down year, this is a game Syracuse would have never won two or three years ago. But they have done it. Syracuse is back and they are currently atop the Big East. Syracuse stormed into Tampa and pulls off a nice upset win against the Bulls 13 to nine.

Offense

B-

The offense clearly looked its best as it has all season on their 98 yard TD scoring drive, capped off by a touchdown reception by Marcus Sales. The team’s longest drive of the season, Syracuse methodically and brilliantly moved the ball down the field using a mix of Carter, Bailey, and passes from Nassib to several receivers to move the ball down the field. Also impressively, there were no flags that sabotaged their efforts. Nassib had a good day earning 12/22, 129 yards, and one touchdown with no interceptions. Carter did not find the end zone, but he did do the dirty work on the ground, picking up 105 yards in the game on 26 carries, earning 4 yards per carry. Antwon Bailey also had an impressive day with nine carries for 81 yards, with a long of 31 plays. Van Chew continues to impress as a receiver with four receptions for 59 yards. A great effort on the day with 307 total yards, 17 first downs, and a reasonable 5-14 on third down conversions for SU. Syracuse also led in time of possession in the game with 32:47. A very nice day in a defensive, grinding kind of game.

Defense

A-

Anytime you win the turnover battle you had a good day on defense. On top of that, Syracuse limited QB BJ Daniels of USF to only 9/23 for 124 yards and no touchdowns. They did intercept him twice on the day though. More importantly, they limited Daniels to -1 rushing yards and no big home run type pass plays. Multiple sacks on the afternoon were also huge. Da’Mon Merkerson had one interception in this game and actually played great coverage on the day, unlike some other games this season (Washington) when he seemed clueless on the field. He may be the defense’s most improved player so far this season. Jeremi Wilkes also had a nice pick, which he seemed to make effortlessly. #SHAMARKO Thomas made some mistakes in this game, but overall the coverage looked good. Syracuse limited USF to only 219 total yards, 13 first downs, and 5-16 on third down conversions. Overall a very solid day.

Special Teams

C-

Stupid, stupid, stupid. On punt returns you need to know at all times where the ball is, where you are, and where you are in relations to the ball. No excuse for allowing a punt to touch you and then give the other team a free possession way further down the field. They also allowed USF to run a kickoff back 94 yards for a touchdown that put USF ahead until Syracuse finally managed a scoring drive again in the fourth quarter. Another bad day for special teams overall. However, Syracuse did block the extra point to keep it a one score game, which was a bit of redemption. Ross Krautman was a perfect 2/2 on field goals, the long being 41 yards. Rob Long was great as usual with six punts for 243 yards and two inside the 20 and one on the one yard line. Prince-Tyson Gulley was great on kick returns with three returns for 70 yards total. Really, everything was fine except for return coverage on both kicks and punts.

Coaching

B-

Overall not a bad day as the offensive plan was good, and the defense was pretty solid, pressuring USF’s Daniels to throw two picks. However there were far too many penalties again. As the season goes on these mental mistakes are supposed to decrease and they have not done so yet. That falls on the coaching staff. 12 penalties for 87 yards is too much. Similarly, Special Teams Coordinator Bob Casullo needs to get his act together finally. All these teams cannot simply be superior in special teams. This is a Syracuse problem. And it needs to be fixed.

GPA

B- (2.7)

This is a big win for the program. Syracuse still made some sloppy mental mistakes but played well when they needed to. They executed their best drive of the season to score and go ahead of the Bulls and the defense did not relent on BJ Daniels all day. This was a huge win and a big road win in the Big East. Now Syracuse needs to keep the momentum up, but to earn a first win again USF in program history, and have the best season record of 4-1 since 1999, Syracuse is looking and feeling pretty good right now.

Intangibles

C- to the South Florida Marching Band. Learn more than one song will you?

A- to the Syracuse faithful in the greater Tampa area and beyond who made the trip down. The crowd was audible on the TV and were clearly a lift to the Syracuse players out on the field.

A+ for the team heading immediately to the Varsity and flipping the South Florida banner upon landing. Brilliant.

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Monday Morning Quarterback 10/11/10

Our little guy is growing up!

A lot can be said about Syracuse's 13-9 victory over the Bulls of South Florida. It wasn't pretty. A win is a win. A Big East win. A win on the road. A win over a program Syracuse has never beaten. A turning point in the program. A marquee win that puts the Orange at 4-1 overall, 1-0 atop the Big East standings.

How did we get there?

Well, it wasn't by outstanding quarterback play. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but Ryan Nassib had what can only be described as, at best, a pedestrian performance. His stats don't jump out at you: 12 completions on 22 attempts (55%) for 129 yards, 1 touchdown (more on that coming up), no interceptions but he was sacked 4 times. A couple of the incompletions can be blamed on drops (looking your way, Alec Lemon and Nick Provo). The rest, well, that was Ryan Nassib not being accurate. We saw flashes of this a few weeks ago, and I wasn't overly concerned at that time. Nor am I overly concerned now. But it's noteworthy and needs to be monitored. The most common inaccuracy I saw was over throwing his receivers.

However, Nassib can't take all the blame there. Blame timing. More importantly, blame the offensive line's constant collapse for throwing off the timing. Time and again, Ryan Nassib was hurried by the South Florida rush, which just wasn't being contained very well by the Syracuse front men. Nassib had to do a lot of scrambling, and often times was forced to throw the ball before he wanted. He's young, so I assume he wasn't accounting for the earlier timing but rather still making the planned on throw, meaning he was throwing to the right spot, but the receiver wasn't there yet. I don't know, just a guess. But the o-line is a good scapegoat on this one.

Receiving-wise, Nassib spread the ball to six different players, with Van Chew once again being his favorite (four catches for 59 yards). Also getting in on the action were Antwon Bailey, Nick Provo, Alec Lemon, Beckett Wales, and the cap of an awesome drive, Marcus Sales.

So let me set the stage on that for you. The 4th quarter has just began. USF punts into Syracuse territory and pins the ball at the 2 yard line at the 13:49 mark. I tweet "Ok Ryan Nassib, 98 yards. Let's see what you can do." Heeding my call to prove himself as the leader of this squad, Ryan Nassib methodically and deliberately led the team down the field on the following 14 play, impressive 98-yard drive ending with a touchdown:
  • Harris runs for 6 yards
  • Bailey runs for 5 yards
  • Carter runs for 2 yards
  • Nassib pass complete to Lemon for 6 yards
  • Carter runs for 4 yards
  • Nassib pass complete to Provo for 6 yards
  • Carter runs for 8 yards
  • Bailey runs for 31 yards
  • Nassib pass complete to Chew for 4 yards
  • Nassib pass complete to Bailey for 12 yards
  • Carter runs for 8 yards
  • Carter runs for 1 yard
  • Carter runs for 2 yards
  • Nassib pass complete to Sales for 3 yards and a touchdown
Somewhere near the end of that drive, before Syracuse found itself in the end zone, I tweeted "This is by far the best offensive drive for either team all day." Not only the best drive, but the importance of the drive in the course of the game, and, of the season for Syracuse. For the game, that proved to be the game-winning drive, putting Syracuse on top 13-9, where the score would remain. It also ran 6 minutes 34 seconds off the game clock, which is absolutely huge in the 4th quarter of a tight game that was otherwise lacking on offense from both teams.

But in terms of that drive being important for Syracuse's season, consider this: on a day when Ryan Nassib didn't have the greatest stuff, he pulled the entire offense together to have a perfect series of plays to function as one whole unit, move the ball down the field, and put it in the end zone. Everything worked perfect. The play calling from the sidelines provided the perfect mix of run and pass. Blocks were made. Holes were opened. Rushers waited for plays to develop. Everyone fought forward. Of the 14 plays, Nassib passed on 5 of them for a total of 31 yards. Not in and of itself impressive, but he was a perfect 5 for 5, and to 5 different receivers. That must be frustrating for a defensive player. Add into that the fact that each Syracuse rush provided positive gains, and you call that the perfect drive.

Someone much wiser than me, I believe Head Coach Doug Marrone, said that Ryan Nassib grew up on that drive. I didn't quite realize it when it happened, but looking back at just how impressive it was, I totally agree. With the help of his coaching staff, Ryan Nassib took command of his offense, and used each one of its strengths to march down the field and give Syracuse the lead. A less mature QB may have passed more. A less mature QB may have gotten excited and freaked out. Let's not forget, this was a Syracuse team playing on a hot field, down 9-6 in the 4th quarter, in front of 41,000+ mostly hostile fans, against a team who had never lost to Syracuse. Daunting if you think about it. But that's what separates us from Nassib. Clearly, he didn't think about it. Or if he did, he quickly disregarded it and got done what needed to get done. And for that, we all thank him.

Meanwhile, another minute of gameplay later saw a very frustrated USF quarterback BJ Daniels yell "fuck!" very clearly on TV after being thrown out of bounds. Yes, BJ, fuck, indeed.

The mantra from practically day one this season has been that anything can happen in this Big East. We're seeing it unfold before our eyes. Coming up this Saturday is a noon matchup against preseason Big East favorite Pittsburgh. My how things have changed! I fully expect to see 45,000+ Syracuse fans wearing orange in the Dome on Saturday for Homecoming, knowing that this offense and this team have turned the corner and knowing that what was surely a loss when everyone looked at the schedule in August is a very winnable game. And we can all know that if Ryan Nassib doesn't exactly have his stuff with him on Saturday, he at least has the confidence of his teammates, his coaches, and his fans to make something happen.

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Cue the Smiling Child... with a Puppy!

Victory is just like rubbing noses with a cute puppy

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South Florida Quick Predictions

The power of McNabb compels you!
It is that time once again. Time when the Big East Conference members start to play each other in football. And with a seemingly wide open conference, this is the start of what could be a great season for the Orange.
Syracuse is a team that, with the exception of the Washington game, has had very slow starts. In a game that should be close, but you are still a ten point underdog, you cannot afford to have a slow start. One thing that is now slow is the running ability of QB BJ Daniels. This gentlemen, as a back up QB at the time, torched Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last season. Especially with long passes. However, that was a far better USF team. Probably because they were abused into performing by their former coach. Daniels has not had as successful of a year so far that he did last year. The overall talent of the team has fallen, and with a new offensive system in place due to a new coach, that is not too conducive to success straight out of the gate. But must like Syracuse, USF has won the games they were supposed to and have lost the games they were supposed to. And in facing Florida, a pretty tough defense, Daniels threw four picks. This is a team that is vulnerable. Ryan Nassib is playing well and has looked confident in the pocket. Delone Carter and Antwan Bailey have been an excellent running and receiving 1-2 punch as of late. The wide receivers have really come along, including the surprises of Van Chew and Nick Provo. Literally until this morning I was going to pick USF, but the more I thought about it the more I like Syracuse to pull the upset. Syracuse is hungrier and have something to prove. USF is probably already looking past this game to WVU, just like their fans are. I'm taking the Orange in this one, probably a very entertaining and close game, 24 to 17.
This game will be broadcast locally in upstate NY on Time Warner Cable Sports, and also on ESPN 3 and the ESPN Gameplan. That means you should be able to find it in your local sports bar if it is any good. I'll actually most likely miss the first quarter, but will jump in with coverage as soon as my morning plans of officiating a high school game is complete. Either way, this should be a fun one with several interesting implications on the line. Lou might be sad for his son later tomorrow.

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Are You A SU Basketball Fan Or Not?

A must for any SU fan. Period.
In case you haven't heard by now, the fine folks at Maple Street Press publish a massive preview guide for only a hand full of elite college basketball teams in the nation. Syracuse is one of them. And they did a genius thing. They put Sean of Nunes/Magician in charge of editing the entire thing. Which means he hired the most talented people he knew to write the thing. Yes, the SU bloggers. Including me.
Normally you get 100% goodness about Syracuse from myself and Orange::44 Correspondent John Brennan right here. But my articles, along with the other fine writers you know and probably read, in this publication will only be available in the pages. It is 128 pages, no advertisements, and 100% on Syracuse Basketball. The Maple Street Press' Orange Tip-Off 2010-2011 is available at newsstands in the Northeast starting October 19th, or you can order one right here for the low price of $12.99. And just look at all the articles and authors here. If that isn't the mega brain trust of SU Basketball I don't know what is.
If you're an SU Basketball fan in the least, this is a must have for the upcoming season. Not only do you get some great articles from people you already like, but you learn about every player, the history of the team, predictions for the year, looks at last season, and much more. Just do it already. You'll thank yourself later. Just to prove it, check out a small segment from Hoya Suxa's Matt Glaude about the Georgetown/Syracuse rivalry here.

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BlogPoll 2010 - Week 6

* The big losers this week is Wisconsin who got taken down by Sparty, and Stanford who lost to a very good Oregon team. Subsequently Michigan State jumps ten as a result. Oregon stays put.
* Florida also drops a lot after getting beat by #1 Alabama. Couldn't even score a touchdown Gators?
* USC and Florida lost so they drop. Penn State drops out after their loss, and I'm sick of dealing with Texas. They are out until they actually get a couple top 25 wins in.
* I maintain my top 5 in tact, especially Boise at 2, TCU at 4, and Oregon at 5. While I think there is a virtual toss up between the three schools at this point, Because they all won they maintain their spots. If the actual voters didn't have a bias against Boise, Oregon would have never jumped them when they all won. My poll reflects that.
Questions or concerns? Leave a comment.

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