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Rutgers Quick Predictions

Rutgers is just... just awful.
Syracuse is 3-1. We're all glad about that. But it's not a good 3-1. Syracuse's defense is not that great. However, Syracuse's offense is very good and we have a streak of two wins against Rutgers going. Additionally, we're in the Carrier Dome which doesn't hurt.
Statistically these teams are virtually identical on paper. About the only stat that SU leads is first downs gained. Everything else is really close. Rutgers has Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison. Syracuse has Van Chew and Alec Lemon. Syracuse has Antwon Bailey. Rutgers has Savon Huggins. Last year Syracuse found success against Rutgers by getting pressure on the quarterback. While Mikhail Marinovich is very good at that, Syracuse is really missing Chandler Jones. The winner of this game will be the one that gives up the fewest big plays and holds onto the ball. Not only that, but who plays better between Ryan Nassib and Chase Dodd. Let's face it, both secondaries are like Swiss, so whoever takes the most advantage will win. This is virtually a toss up game on paper sadly. But I like the home cooking of the Carrier Dome, as well as the fact that Nassib has just straight up been better so far this season over Dodd. But this should be an airshow type of game. I'm picking Syracuse over Rutgers 31 to 28.
This game will be on the good ol' Big East Network as their "Game of the Week". That just means you'll see it on TWCS, SNY, or ESPN 3. It's another nooner. Student tickets are free so we'll see what that means for student attendance but I still think it will be lame. There should be a decent crowd on hand however. John and I will be there so look for some fun Tweets and all the usual postgame stuff next week. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy hating on Jersey.

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On Attendance & ACC

A couple weeks ago I penned an article about why I believed SU football was suffering from poor attendance, and how I believed SU Athletics could help fix that problem. Since that time, the team has visited Southern California and lost, has accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, and has squeaked by a Toledo team in the Carrier Dome in front of an expectedly small crowd. So, now what?
Thankfully, SUAthletics has made a move in the right direction. Yesterday, an email was sent to all SU students informing them that they can get in free to the Carrier Dome this Saturday for the Big East opener against Rutgers. And to take it farther, those students already holding season tickets get additional perks so as to not let them miss out on free tickets when they've already paid for them.
This is a great move for several reasons. First, if we look at the attendance for the student section over this year's first three home games, we see this: loud, large and in charge for Wake Forest; quite a drop-off for Rhode Island; and even smaller for Toledo. Yeah, that's how it is every year: the students show up for the home opener, then only the die-hards come the rest of the year. But it doesn't have to be that way. Let's face it, college students love free stuff. So that automatically will get some students who may be pleading the poverty line as an excuse to not attend games (what, your parents just can't pay for it?). But no, I get it; money isn't growing on trees, and there are students who have to choose between seeing a football game and shopping at Carousel. Well, now they can do both!
Second, while this game is featured as the Big East Game of the Week, that also puts it at 12pm noon. Not exactly student-friendly. Believe me, I know. But when you have the chance to be a part of something big, and for free, you can make some sacrifices: don't stay out till 4am the night before, get your work done ahead of time, etc. Whatever it takes. As for me, I'll probably be out late Friday night, get up early Saturday and start tailgating around 9am; and I'll power through it. So you students who are 7-11 years younger than me, I'm sure you can do it too.
Third, the athletic department is realizing that a full, loud, and vibrant student section is the key to sparking the rest of the Carrier Dome and, the rest of the community. It's a bit demoralizing to me, sitting in 215 and looking down at a mostly empty student section. This is college athletics. It's about the student-athletes and, by extension, the rest of the student body. If the student body doesn't care about the student-athletes, then why should the rest of the community care? Now, I don't buy into this argument full-heartedly; there's many reasons for the community to care. But for the nay-sayers out there, I'd prefer to patch up any possible crappy arguments they could make with something positive. If the students care about their school, their football team, their fellow Orangemen & Orangewomen, then that's something the rest of the community can latch onto and throw their support that way.
Bottom line is, we're much better off if the school and the students can point at the rest of the empty seats in the Carrier Dome outside of the student section as being the problem, instead of the ones within the student section. Then the athletic department can deal with that issue.
But then I read the initial Post-Standard story this morning featuring quotes from chancellor Nancy Cantor talking about possible ACC home basketball games being played in New York City, and I can't help but make a correlation between poor home attendance and moving those home games. We're already giving up home football games against USC and Notre Dame to play them at MetLife Field ("The New Meadowlands"). No doubt that's football-attendance-related, in addition to the added benefits of possible additional revenue and marketing opportunities playing in/around NYC. I get that. But playing home basketball games in NYC? Yeah, we wouldn't sell out USC or Notre Dame in the Dome for football, but I would bet anything that we sell out the Dome for Duke and UNC basketball. Taking those games away would be such a huge slap in the face to Syracuse, its students, and its fans.
Thank God for Jim Boeheim and Dr. Gross for putting out that fire before it got out of control. Nance the Chance, we learn, was talking about post-season games, pre-season tournaments, and home-and-home series' with teams like St. John's. She wasn't talking about moving ACC conference games to NYC. Right. But hey, at least we're all on the same page now. Maybe someone should talk to Nancy about that. And maybe buy her a real orange shirt. Baby steps.
So you see, this all goes back to attendance. If fans just show up to these games, a lot of these problems go away. We don't have to worry about home games -- in any sport -- being played in a venue outside of Syracuse. And, as an added bonus, the product we pay to see will improve. Increased revenue at the gate/concessions can translate into more money being invested into the program, better facilities which will help with recruiting, and a higher likelihood that a home game against a big-name opponent (and probably more of them) can be played in the Carrier Dome instead of elsewhere. So please, if you can, come to the games. Or, forever hold your peace.

Toledo - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR XP Calamity

The Kraut knows he pulled on over on the Big East.
Syracuse played well enough. I mean they did win a game in overtime. But Syracuse made it far to close to a Toledo team from the MAC. Syracuse's defense is not nearly as good as it should be. The secondary is really not good. But Nassib did well enough. Van Chew and Alec Lemon are really good. And Antwon Bailey did his part. But we win again. And I have to say again that a win is a win. Syracuse wins in overtime 33 to 30.
But before we get to the report card, let's talk about that extra point. This was a Big East crew, unlike the norm of the away team's conference officials covering a game. The official under the goalpost mistakenly called a ball good instead of calling it no good. Then a Big East replay official called it good, or really upholding the call because there was not indisputable video evidence to overturn the call. Should the extra point not have counted yes. Syracuse should have only been up by two on the final Toledo drive. Would Toledo have won the game for sure? No idea. Syracuse would have probably played the series different. Toledo would have too. But once the next play occurs, you can't go back and change things. It's that way in high school all the way up to the NFL. Sorry Toledo. Bring your own officials next time. To the card.
Offense
B
Ryan Nassib (16/24, 213yds, 2 TD, 0 INT) was very good again. He has the best completion percentage in the Big East and continues to be very good in the passing game. He only has a miscue or two. Antwon Bailey did his job as well, going over 100 yards and scoring. Van Chew, Alec Lemon, and Nick Provo continue to be reliable targets. The offense started off too slow, and lost a fumble, but they continue to score when the have to. They keep doing that and they will keep getting high grades.
Defense
D+
They allowed 24 first downs, 50% of third downs, and 438 total yards, including 300 through the air. Just bad. Additionally the defensive line fails to contain the quarterback. QB Austin Danton was able to rush for 42 yards as well, for a couple first downs. No good.
Special Teams
B (In Reality D)
Terrible officials gave them a D. A missed extra point would normally warrant a horrific grade. Krautman did go 4/4 on field goals, and 3/3 on XPs according to the officials. Coverage was fine on the kicks, and returns also were good for the Orange.
Coaching
C
Offensive play calling was conservative, got better, then got conservative again. Syracuse needs to open the playbook more. Defensively, the calls were adequate at best a lot of the time. Not much more needs to be said about that.
GPA
C+ (2.33)
They won. That's what matters. 3-1 in September is better than 2-2. But Syracuse really needs to get better and fast. And the coaching staff needs to have these players improve and get healthy. Otherwise it will be a long conference slate. But, just three more wins until Syracuse is bowling again.
Intangibles
F to the Big East officiating crew. They will have this weekend off after that botched job on the game.
F to the Student Section that never showed. Nooners seem early, but if you are a fan you are a fan. I guess most of you aren't. As expected.
A to the students that did show up. You guys are what the program needs more of.
Syracuse opens up conference play this Saturday at Noon on the Big East Network. That means ESPN 3, SNY, and TWCS. Rutgers is in the building in another winable game for Syracuse. But if SU plays it poorly, Rutgers could escape with one, like Syracuse did last year in Piscataway. Here's hoping it's three in a row.

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BlogPoll 2011 - Week 4

* Trojans and Mizzou are out. So is Mississippi State. GTech is in, along with Clemson, who makes a big jump on there, and the unbeaten Illini.
*Florida State falls the biggest this week.
*LSU jumps two spots with their win over WVU. They fall six.
Anything jumps out? Let me know as usual.

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Cue the Smiling Child...

Happy times, courtesy of bad officials and DOC Gross Jr.

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Toledo Quick Predictions

Oh yeah, Ohio is totally cool.
Syracuse is coming off a terrible defensive performance versus Southern California. But that's alright. It's USC. Now Syracuse is playing Toledo. But will the defense show up to this one?
Toledo rolls with a dual-headed quarterback situation. The names are interchangeable but they have combined for 826 yards and 8 scores. Not too shabby. Toledo's offense is more efficient in converting third downs and they earn more yards. However, Syracuse's defense is also better. Toledo allows more yards through the air than Syracuse, and despite Chandler Jones still being out, Toledo is also missing a starter in the linebacker core. Antwon Bailey should have a pretty decent day, eating up yards for Syracuse. Both teams have solid offensive lines, so the key in this game is who's defense can attack the quarterback. If both teams have time to pass the ball, this game could erupt into an air show. Be specifically on the look out for Eric Page on Toledo, the favorite target for either quarterback. If the secondary lets him spring free on big plays Syracuse is in trouble. The secondary really needs to step up today. Pressure on the quarterback and winning the turnover battle is necessary for Syracuse to ice this game. I think this game will be close, but you should see Syracuse pull away in the fourth quarter again. Look for big days from Nassib and Bailey as I said, but this game will probably be tight. Syracuse pulls off the win though, 31 to 24.
This game can be seen nationwide on ESPN 3, or locally on Time Warner Cable Sports and SNY starting at 12:00pm on Saturday. Depending on the crowd as always look for John and I on Twitter. And check back her for postgame coverage Sunday and early next week. Enjoy your weekend folks. Rutgers and Big East play is up after this one.

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Goodbye To The Sports Fix

A great run.
Today, Matt McClusky hosts his final radio program for WNER1410. I just wanted to say a few words of thanks as well. It's been a long road for Matt and he's been great at putting together a great show for his listeners, as well as Syracuse fans. Not only that, but he did what all good radio hosts do. He connected to his local audience by covering various games locally, and making sure that national teams got equal time with the high schoolers there. And he covered them and Syracuse well. He also gave all us bloggers a chance to be heard. Let's face it, bloggers are more informed and have their finger on the pulse of their teams than most. On top of that, he let me on the radio to talk about lacrosse of all things. And on the regular. No greater than almost immediately after the 2009 Lacrosse Championship from Foxboro. And we've talked about football and basketball too, including his big football preview every year for the Orange.
And now he's heading on to bigger (allegedly better) things. But before he goes I wanted to say thanks for having me on all those times. It was always fun and enjoyable and nothing but nice and easy to work with. Since he's leaving the radio waves we might have to have him on a podcast or two in the future. And of course if he ever makes it down to Syracuse when we're there the first round is on me. Best wishes to Matt and his family in the future. I'm sure he'll be wildly successful in the next chapter of his life.

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Thoughts On Syracuse To The ACC

Soak it in.
Somewhere Jake Crouthamel is smiling. Not because he likes what is going on, but because he was right about it. Most likely, because of the PAC 12 and the ACC there will be about 4 "superconferences" instead of six conferences. Jake predicted it. Finishing off a pack of cigarettes as he sits on his porch in New England somewhere. Watching the demise of the conference he helped form.
And it's sad. Since 1979 the Big East has been around and has been the greatest basketball conference in America for a majority of that time. Syracuse, Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova, St. Johns, and all the other teams before the first ACC realignment... they were part of my childhood, my collegiate career, and everything after. My first trip to the Carrier Dome was to see Syracuse/Georgetown when I was in elementary school. Just like that, conference ties can be forsaken. After a year or so of seeing the shifting occur, and witnessing the shift in the last decade, it is bizarre to be seeing it from this side of the fence. Part of the traitors, the defectors, the ones that are part of the problem and not the solution. I say that as a fan because we all know I had nothing to do with it personally. There's really only one person to blame. That is the current commissioner of the Big East Conference. He sat around and "made phone calls" and hung around to "see if Villanova will move up" instead of getting on the phone and signing teams to the league in the future. So in that regard I'm glad Syracuse has determined a safe course for the future. But we will be losing a lot of familiar things too. We all know Syracuse will schedule Georgetown, and probably UConn and St. John's every year in basketball anyway. But most likely unless there is a conference move to the ACC, West Virginia and UConn are gone from the football schedule. Same with Rutgers. No more Providence or Notre Dame for basketball. I could watch just about any Big East Basketball game any given Saturday. Can't see myself being like that for the ACC. Clemson/Virginia doesn't rev my engine like St. John's/Villanova from the Garden. Not to mention the Big East Tournament. Remember '06? '09? Yeah, the stuff of legends. While there is a waiting period to leave the Big East chances are a lawsuit or a settlement will get Pitt and SU out of that and we'll be playing ACC games before you know it. Just my opinion. But the lawyers at the schools have to the thinking the same thing. Lacrosse will get a fun change up, so that's cool though.
For our new ACC friends, just a couple rules. First, say what you want about our football team and how good or not good they are, but you better think twice about saying disparaging things about Jim Boeheim. He's been around long enough to say whatever he wants, he knows more than you, and the man will be defended vigorously by any and all Syracuse fans. Syracuse has pretty good barbecue. Just saying. Finally, Syracuse has the most NCAA Championships in lacrosse than any school in the nation. Your sham of a "lacrosse conference" finally got legit.
Really, it boils down to the fact that I can't change anything about what went down. No use being sad about it. The only option is to look back fondly. I'll say to my kids one day that there was the greatest basketball conference ever called the Big East, and Syracuse was in it and it was amazing. Then things changed. By then we'll know if it was for the better or just another lateral maneuver. Either way, Marrone, Boeheim, and Desko are going to try and win games no matter what league they are in. That's all you can ask for. And don't worry, we'll still hate UConn and Georgetown plenty around here.

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BlogPoll 2011 - Week 3

*Sparty takes the biggest dip. They blew it against a so-so Notre Dame team.
*Florida State fell, but only six as they lost to Oklahoma. They're pretty good.
*Auburn and THE Ohio State fall. Hello USC and Texas.
As always leave your comments if it's ridiculous.

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USC - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR I Hate Losing


Credit to Frank Ordonez at the Post-Standard

Syracuse was a big underdog going into this game. Hell, I even picked Syracuse to lose. But, as fans, we all hold out for that however-slight possibility that things will go our way and we'll pull the big upset. And that seemed plausible with Syracuse jumping out to an early 3-0 lead and quarterback Ryan Nassib having 11 straight completions to start the game. Unfortunately, that upset didn't happen for the Orange on Saturday night as they lost to Southern California 38-17.
Offense
C
Ryan Nassib once again had a pretty solid game (25/37 for 230 yards, 1TD, 0INT). However, when you take away the 11 straight completions in the first quarter, he finishes out the game 14/26, a 14% drop in completion rate. He was hurried, he was hit, and he was sacked four times. Especially later in the game, the pocket would just collapse in on him. His receivers, however, were doing a good job of getting open; the ball was spread to six different receivers, with Nick Provo and Alec Lemon being Nassib's favorite targets. You also have to give credit to Nassib, Lemon, and Chew for executing that trick play in the second half -- it wasn't a pretty throw from Lemon, but Chew adjusted, kept with it, and brought it down in the end zone. Also, welcome back to the offense Antwon Bailey. Sort of. 11 carries for 47 yards, plus five catches for 40 yards. This was once again a pass-first gameplan, but Bailey did what he could to find the open lanes and pick up yardage. But the offense here gets a C for only converting 8 of 15 on 3rd downs, not allowing much of a run game, and only managing 17 points.
Defense
D
Really this should be an F, but nearly 24 hours removed from the game has softened me a bit. I mean, USC is a pretty good team after all, and Matt Barkley is a damn good quarterback. This defense allowed 501 total yards: 326 passing, 175 rushing. They also allowed USC to continue drives with 10-14 third down conversions, and a few dumb penalties (some which were NOT really penalties... more on that later). The guys up front did their best playing their second game without Chandler Jones, but it's obvious that he's missed out there -- both for his gameplay and his leadership. That said, the secondary was horrific. More soft coverage and poor tackling, reminiscent of the Greg Robinson Era. This has got to stop. Scott Shafer really needs to pick it up with these kids if Syracuse wants a chance to stay in games against quality opponents.
Special Teams
C-
Sadly, Shane Raupers took a big step back from his great game last week against Rhode Island. He wasn't getting much power behind the ball, averaging only 31 yards on his three kicks. He was replaced later by Jonathan Fisher who, on his two kicks, averaged a more respectable 43.5 yards. It will be interesting to watch whether the punting job is back up for grabs. Ross Krautman had a perfect day, hitting a 23-yard field goal to cap off the first drive of the game, and 2-2 on extra point attempts. The return teams weren't exactly lighting up the stat sheets; Syracuse did not attempt to return either of USC's two punts, and averaged 14 yards on the seven kick-offs. Overall a less than average day for the Special Teams.
Coaching
B-
While still an overall conservative gameplan, Head Coach Doug Marrone took a few gutsy chances in this one, so we have to give credit where credit's due. Most notably were the decision to go for it 4th and 10 near the end of the first half (didn't work), and the Nassib-to-Lemon-to-Chew touchdown trickery in the third quarter. You love it when the playbook gets opened up like that, and you love it even more when it works. But overall, I think the coaches could have done a better job preparing the team for the level of competition they'd be seeing. I thought the defense, particularly the secondary, was vastly under-prepared to deal with the likes of Barkley, and otherwise typical SoCal surfer-dude type.
GPA
C (1.9975)
In the end, I guess you can say that Syracuse played exactly like we expected them to play. Not outstanding, not pitiful, but nothing to write home about. The offense needs to find a way to get Bailey more touches, especially when there are open lanes. The line needs to do a better job to holding their ground and giving Nassib time and room to let a play develop. Given that time and room, Nassib is throwing great balls, and the receivers are usually doing what they need to do to catch them. I guess it's OK to have a performance like this against a greatly superior team, but not against the teams in the Big East; unless losing is the goal.
Intangibles
F to the officiating crew which, of course, was from the Big East. I am thinking of two specific times when a bad call (an incomplete pass ruled complete, and a phantom pass interference call) extended USC drives which eventually led to scores. A little gamesmanship for the ACC thing perhaps?
F to the USC band for doing what they do. I'm pretty sure you're the only ones who like you, so, there's that.
A to Gus Johnson. He loved Syracuse's touchdown pass in the third quarter and wanted everyone to know it! Though he couldn't bring his usual "Gus Johnson Upset Special" to this game, I thought he called a good one.
B+ to the FX production crew. The slow-motion shots returning from commercials were interesting, especially when they involved cheerleaders. Nice touch.
I'm looking forward to this matchup next year, when USC travels east to play Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. I expect Syracuse to be a better team by then, Matt Barkley will be in the NFL, and there should be a huge orange contingent. But for now, we look ahead to Toledo this coming Saturday, back in the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. Keep it here for our usual coverage, as well as more analysis on Syracuse moving to the ACC.

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Cue The Crying Child...

Not only did we lose, but we're in the ACC. Great.

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Quick Thoughts on ACC Move


As I sit here at about 2:30pm on September 17, 2011, the talk of the town (well, the interwebs anyway) isn't focused on the big football game tonight between Syracuse and Southern California. Instead, we're all abuzz with word that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have applied for membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

First reported late last night by New York Times reporter Pete Thamel, my initial reaction was "NOOOOOOO!" I was hoping he was wrong, that his source was drunk on a Friday night. But now, over 15 hours later, this story has picked up traction and it seems inevitable.

To serve as some background, the ACC raided the Big East some eight years ago by grabbing Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami. Syracuse had been in that conversation initially, and our collective sigh of relief when we remained in the Big East could have blown down Nancy Cantor's then yet-to-be-built wall. At that early time, the ACC saw how important it was to have a 12-school league to allow for the football championship game. The Big Ten, also eager to play a championship game, created its own television network and went out to add a twelfth member (Nebraska). Same with the Pac-10, who added Colorado and Utah. This left the Big 12 with ten members and no championship game. In the process, Texas created its own TV network, which evidently hasn't sat well with the league's other nine schools. Meanwhile, Texas Christian University, a member of the non-BCS conference Mountain West, was accepted to join the Big East beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, giving the conference nine football schools and 17 basketball schools. Then, Big 12 member Texas A&M decided it wanted to move to greener pastures, gave the Big 12 its notice, and applied and was accepted into the Southeastern Conference. While this was all happening, the Big East reportedly was in talks with some remaining members of the Big 12, namely Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Baylor. I figured they would eventually see the writing on the wall that the Big 12 was destined to die, and they'd jump to the Big East. We'd be sitting pretty, especially with the lure of the league's TV contract expiring and the prospect of landing a huge deal.

But, that didn't happen. Any "talking" the Big East had with those Big 12 schools wasn't good enough. It's like having the engagement ring in your pocket, seeing the perfect time to propose to your girlfriend, and then just kind of looking at her paralyzed. So, credit to the Presidents/ADs for Syracuse and Pittsburgh for realizing that hey, our league's not doing what it has to do to survive, so we have to look out for ourselves.

And that's exactly how I see it.

I'm not happy that this likely spells the end of the road for the Big East. I hate that we're becoming everything we hated on when BC/VTech/Miami left. I hate that the ACC wins. But, I love that Syracuse won't be left out in the cold in the conference shakeup madness.

And so, life goes on. We have a nationally televised game tonight against the once-mighty Trojans. We're all upset-minded, so I guess it seems fitting that Syracuse & Pitt upset the Big East today. But let's start looking forward to the future... we get to renew that yearly rivalry with Boston College! I mean, they can now be conference games again. And Coach K now will be required to play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. And, let's admit, the ACC lacrosse conference will be so much better than the Big East lacrosse conference. Plus, don't think for a second that Georgetown and UConn won't be on our basketball schedule every year.

We'll have much more conference expansion talk here on Orange::44 as more details are confirmed. But, we're living in a bright new world today. Enjoy it.

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Southern California Quick Predictions

NCAA Violations: Fun for everyone!
Syracuse has played two games and won them both. Usually this would be cause for a ticker-tape parade down Salina but the fact is that Syracuse really isn't firing on all cylinders yet. While the (supposed) 1-AA break of URI was welcomed last week, Syracuse only won by a touchdown, and had to come back and go to overtime to beat Wake Forest opening weekend. This team has potential, but right now it is unreached. Cue a west coast road trip to USC.
I'm not going to lie and say that Syracuse, by perception, is not a huge underdog in this game. Syracuse never has done well on west coast trips, Syracuse has not been elite in years, and it is freaking USC after all. But USC has had their share of troubles as we all know. And frankly the statistics show that they are only slightly better than Syracuse in most areas. For example, Syracuse is only out-gained on offense by USC around 70 yards. In the grand scheme that is not a lot. Where USC excels by far is in third down conversions. They convert 44% of the time, while Syracuse is at a lowly 26%. Interestingly enough, Syracuse's offense averages more points and they have less turnovers. And honestly at this point I would put both defenses pretty even. USC had trouble with Minnesota and Utah. It seems the way to beat USC is pass and pass. That will be the key match in this game. Syracuse's offense versus the USC secondary. With two solid receivers and a running back that can catch out of the backfield, Nassib has some weapons at his disposal. QB Matt Barkley should be equally up to the task of slicing up the Syracuse secondary. The key is who gives up the least amount of deep passes. Additionally, USC is starting their third LT in as many starts, so that could be an area the Syracuse defense could exploit. Chandler Jones is reportedly out so that will be a blow to the run defense of Syracuse, but overall these teams are even. Limiting turnovers and capitalizing on the other team's mistakes are key. Syracuse needs to come out firing and take some chances. You have nothing to lose. The upset could easily occur, but I'm taking the smart money and saying USC hold on in a close one. USC over the Orange 28 to 24.
This game will be nationally televised on F/X starting at 8:00pm EST, 5:00pm local time. I'll be enjoying a different football game in person and am out of the home office all weekend, so check @JBren for live updates of the game and some postgame stuff. To all the alumni or fans checking the game out in Los Angeles safe travels and enjoy the game.

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Rhode Island - Syracuse Postgame Reactions OR It's A Win

9/11/01 - Never Forget
Syracuse was expected to roll in this game. Uhhhhh... not so much. But they did avoid a 1-AA upset and won the game, which was their only job. But we here love to provide constructive feed back, thus we head to the report card shortly. But at least Syracuse beats Rhode Island 21 to 14.
Offense
C
There is no denying that Ryan Nassib (29/37, 318yds, 3 TD, 1 INT) had a great day. A career day as a matter of fact. But he, along with the wide receivers, were the bright spot. No bad drops in this game, and Van Chew (8rec, 134yds, 16.8avg, 1 TD) has mad ups. But Antwon Bailey (13car, 43yds, 3.3avg, 0 TD) had a bad day against a 1-AA defense and that made it harder on the passing game. Syracuse had an equal number of first downs (20) as URI did, and Syracuse was only 3-12 on third down conversions. Yes, Syracuse was 2-3 on 4th downs, but overall those offensive numbers are dreadful. 36 total rush yards is a joke as well. Ryan Nassib was basically the offense. Special congratulations to WR Michael Acchione, a walk on receiver who got his first touchdown in this game. The hometown hero was living the dream Saturday.
Defense
C-
While Syracuse was not beat on any huge plays like Wake Forest was able to execute, they failed to prevent QB Steve Probst from running all over the field to pick up first downs. 20 again for the record. They were even more efficient on third downs, converting 5-14. The good news is that the Syracuse defense is causing turnovers, picking off two more passes this week. That is something Syracuse failed to do a lot of last season. But once again the secondary was an easy mark for the opposing quarterback. And considering that the Syracuse secondary was taller than various URI receivers, this is not a good effort. Phillip Thomas with 2 picks redeemed himself from last week a bit however.
Special Teams
B+
Shane Raupers had almost a perfect punting game. He punted 5 times for a total of 177 yards and two were inside the 20, masterfully downed by the coverage. Ross Krautman didn't attempt a field goal but was a perfect 3/3 on extra points. Coverage was adequate and a solid day. Not much to report here.
Coaching
B-
After a quarterback continues to beat you by running, why would you not spy him a little bit. Also, this was the most basic and vanilla play calling on offense I've ever seen. Except for going for it on 4th. I figured they were saving most of the good stuff for USC so they wouldn't have it on film but that was at the cost of pulling away early and not looking back on URI. Yes you needed to be conservative in this game, but not THAT much.
GPA
C+ (2.43)
Again Syracuse won, but this didn't need to be this close and it shouldn't have been this close. Syracuse really did not play up to the level they should have. I'm guessing it was a combination of looking past URI, along with just not playing to their full potential. Missing Chandler Jones and a few other players did not help either, but still Syracuse played below the level they should have needed and it was too close for comfort. They really have to play above board next weekend as they head out west.
Intangibles
A+ to the patriotic tributes to 9/11 by the university this weekend, both in the Carrier Dome and around campus.
F to the guy asking for bus fair to Ithaca. It's been Ithaca for about 3 years now. Frankly it would be refreshing if someone just asked for a dollar straight up.
Syracuse takes on Southern California out in Los Angeles next Saturday night (afternoon local time). It should be a fun one. At least we hope. Syracuse will need to play better. Sean Keeley has you covered if you are making the trip out west. Check out Nunes/Magician all week if you are. We'll have game coverage as usual.

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Cue The Smiling Child...

Better late than never. Rhody was close but it's a win.

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