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People let me tell you 'bout my beeeeeeeest friend!
It was close. The Syracuse defense played probably as good of a game as they possibly could have. But the Syracuse offense was no match for the Clemson defense. They also had a stellar game. Syracuse needed more talent. They didn't have it. Clemson won. It wasn't a surprise. But if you're Syracuse or a fan you have to like the effort. Clemson pulled away 16 to 6.
Offense
C
Syracuse only managed 10 first downs and converted 3-16 on third downs. On top of that, they only earned 170 total yards. AJ Long (12/27, 82yds, 0 TD, 2 INT) didn't have the best day, and was constantly harassed by the superior defensive line of Clemson. Long never really got going and looked shaky all day. At least one of his two interceptions should have never been thrown and it was basically right to a defender. Granted, Syracuse's offense was far outmatched by Clemson, but they still had a sub-per day even for playing a team with more talent.
Defense
A-
Simply put, the defense kept Syracuse in this game for as long as they did, and even gave them a halftime lead. They held Clemson to only three points in the first half. They forced four Clemson turnovers. Clemson made some halftime adjustments and we knew the Syracuse secondary couldn't hold up the entire game. But a valiant performance on the road in Death Valley.
Special Teams
B
The day was perfectly summed up by K Cole Murphy's performance. He drilled a 50 yard field goal before the end of the first half, but missed a 42 yarder later in the game. He was 2/3 on the day and had Syracuse's only points on the day. Otherwise, kick and punt coverage was pretty great and Syracuse didn't hurt themselves on special teams other than the missed FG.
Coaching
B-
A far better performance than I expected, but Syracuse still tried to throw too many bubble screens. Syracuse simply can't block as well against top flight teams, nor will the speedy teams allow Syracuse to get the edge on quick passes. The penalties continue to be disconcerting as well. You'd think by now, more than halfway into the season, we'd correct some of that.
GPA
B- (2.85)
Syracuse gave us hope for far too long in this game that an upset was possible. It never really was with the way the offense played, but the defense did so well that it kept the door open. I can't say I'm disappointed as the expected result still happened, but Syracuse needs to find a way to stay in big games like this in the next few seasons. For now, it was a good enough performance against a superior team.
Syracuse gets a slight break with NC State as their next opponent. The defense did well, but now we need to see the offense come alive again, like it did against Wake Forest. For now, this Clemson game was entertaining as it wasn't a blow out, and it was fun to see the Clemson fans sweat one out. But seriously, stop booing injuries. You classless hillbillies.

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Cue the Crying Child...

It was winable for Syracuse, but the better team clearly won.

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Clemson Quick Predictions

Clem(p)son. Death Valley. Great.
Syracuse had a nice win last weekend in a confidence building game at Wake Forest. Syracuse is again on the road to take on the Tigers down in Clemson. This is a tall task, but stranger things have happened.
Clemson's best offensive players are the tandem of QB Cole Stoudt and WR Mike Williams (how many receivers that play football are named Mike Williams?). Williams has 30 catches and 671 yards on the year, along with his four scores. Stoudt started the first three games for the Tigers, but was benched in favor of a freshman. But now he's back. You can't get much more of a pure pocket passer than Stoudt. Which means, if the Syracuse defensive front can get through the Clemson offensive line, they could be in real trouble. Clemson isn't a team that will pound the ball, so Syracuse has a chance to force some fumbles and make life difficult for Stoudt and the Clemson offense. That being said, the Clemson defense is very good and Syracuse itself will probably have a hard time running the ball, putting a lot of pressure on Freshman QB AJ Long to make a lot of plays with his arm. He'll make some, but he'll probably miss a lot more and manage to throw an INT or two this week as well. Clemson won't lose this game, but I think in the first half it will be closer than they'd like. Clemson over the Orange 38 to 27.
This game is available nationally on ESPN U / WatchESPN at 7:00pm. John and I are in the respective home office so we'll be with you to make light of all the calamity that could occur in this game. Have a nice Saturday and Go Orange (but not Clemson orange).

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AJ Long had a great start to his starting QB career.
Syracuse needed a bounce back game, and a win on top would be necessary to say in the Bowl race. Playing the worst team in the ACC surely would help. But what was not known was whether AJ Long would play well enough as a first time starting true freshman to earn the win. Syracuse soared and beat Wake Forest 30-7.
Offense
B
AJ Long (22/32, 171 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 1 rush TD) had a nice day. He didn't turn the ball over and was able to sustain drives. Syracuse was 9-19 on third downs, earned 17 first downs, and had 370 total yards of offense. Devante McFarlane was the workhorse on the ground with 114 yards on 10 carries. Steve Ishmael continues to be a stellar and crucial part of the Syracuse offense, and with six receptions for 72 yards, he and AJ Long are becoming quite the pair. A great day for the SU offense.
Defense
A
You can't have much of a better day for your defense than with a #PickSix and a #ScoopAndScore. One defensive score is a bonus. Two is almost unheard of. Wake was limited to 12 first downs, 3-15 on third downs, and only 170 total yards. Additionally, the defense knocked out the Wake starting QB with a legal hit for the entire second half. Can't have much of a better day. The secondary is still shit though.
Special Teams
A
Good coverage, Cole Murphy was perfect on the day with three field goals (long of 41) and three XPs. A solid day for the special teams unit.
Coaching
B
While the play calling got much better, they still called too many screen passes for not much gain.
But overall, you have to like how the offense has responded to a new OC and with a new starting QB. And the defensive play calling got to the Wake QB and forced turnovers. A little bit of improvement is possible, but not much.
GPA
A- (3.5)
A lot was on the line for Syracuse and there were tons of questions going into this game. But Wake Forest was a team Syracuse definitely had a chance to beat, and they answered the call handily. Other than maybe not allowing Wake to score the touchdown they had on a 91 yard drive, Syracuse couldn't have played much better. A very good day indeed.
Syracuse had a great day. There won't be many easier opponents on the schedule so to get a nice convincing win like this against a beatable team was good to see. Syracuse will have more difficult games left on the schedule, but this one was nice to savor.

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Back to the Future: Davis & Lang vs. Boeheim

The Boeheim defamation lawsuit has been resurrected

Editor's note: The following is a quick post about today's Court of Appeals decision while I'm on an extended lunch break during a jury trial. Yeah. That's how much I care about you people!

Today, New York's highest court -- the Court of Appeals -- issued a decision reversing the lower court's finding affirming the trial court's order of dismissal. In layman's terms: back on.

Procedurally, we know this case never went to trial. Boeheim's lawyers filed a notice of appeal very early in the process -- even before discovery. The trial judge dismissed the suit, ruling that the suit filed on behalf of Bobby Davis and Mike Lang did not allege facts sufficient to meet the legal threshold. That dismissal order was appealed to the mid-level appeals court in New York -- the Appellate Division -- which upheld the dismissal in a close 3-2 decision. The Court of Appeals took the case, and after oral arguments last month, considered arguments of both sides and determined, based on the law, that the lawsuit should be reinstated.

The gist of the Court of Appeals' decision is that Davis & Lang sufficiently alleged that the statements of Boeheim in the hours and days after the Bernie Fine allegations were made public, were of such a nature that they constituted "mixed fact and opinion," which makes it at least sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Boeheim making statements that "they had done this before" in regards of Davis & Lang making these sex abuse allegations, as well as Boeheim's reference to the investigation that found no proof of the abuse, are what did Boeheim in. Those facts were special facts that the public -- the reasonable listener/reader of Boeheim's statements -- had no knowledge of prior to Boeheim stating it. Because Boeheim's statements of opinion are based upon those special facts not previously disclosed, the Court found they were mixed fact & opinion, which are the proper basis of a defamation lawsuit.

But wait, this isn't the end of the road. The Court of Appeals is merely stating that the allegations in the lawsuit are sufficient for the case to move forward. That means, the case can proceed through the discovery process, depositions of witnesses, other legal wranglings, and ultimately a jury trial. A jury could still find that those statements were not defamatory. A jury could find that the statements of fact upon which Boeheim made his opinions were actually true -- and most of us know that the truth is a defense to defamation.

So, Boeheim could still walk away from this unscathed. Or, a jury could rule against him and find that he did defame Davis & Lang. Or, maybe this doesn't even get that far -- maybe all the parties reach a settlement, the terms of which we'd probably never know. Stay tuned, we'll walk you through any future developments.

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Cue the Smiling Child!

Great to be back in the winning column -- calls for a double thumbs up!

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Wake Forest Quick Predictions

So angry.
Fresh off a loss to the best team in the nation, Syracuse is looking to send a message that they can at least take care of business against the bottom of the ACC. And Wake Forest fits the bill. Can Syracuse rebound and earn a much needed win?
Wake Forest is dead last in the nation in rushing yards with 31 per game. They have a tragically ineffective rush offense which means that Wake will have to get the job done in the air. That's where Syracuse has traditionally struggled. While Syracuse should have it's best defensive day of the season against the rush, that will mean that Wake Forest will throw the ball more. I don't like having to rely on a secondary and/or linebackers in coverage to stop a team. Luckily the Syracuse pass rush is also pretty good. But that still means that the Syracuse offense needs to move the ball and put points on the board. Sometimes the game comes down to chewing the clock and hoping the other team makes the mistake that ends the game. Wake Forest's offense is even worse in the Red Zone oddly enough. So really, whoever wins the time of possession and the turnover battle. On paper, Syracuse is the better squad, despite starting a freshman QB. After last week I'll give them the benefit until he really blows the game by throwing into coverage. I'll take Syracuse in an grinder. 20 to 13.
This game is available regionally at 12:00pm on various local channels (listing here) and on Watch ESPN everywhere else (subject to blackout if the game is on TV in your area). Both John and I will be watching from home. If things go south we'll be cranky as always.

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The game was better. Not great but better.
A new offensive coordinator and a new starting QB was a recipe for a brutal viewing experience when facing the #1 team in the nation. But it actually wasn't so bad. And Syracuse covered the spread, if you're into being a degenerate gambler. Either way, there were some terrible things to watch, but mostly it was a good effort against a far superior team. FSU wins again 38-20.
Offense
C+
Syracuse was 7/14 (50%) on third downs, earned 20 first downs overall, and they racked up 412 total yards. The fact that they scored a touchdown was a minor miracle. Red Zone issues continue for the Orange however. AJ Long (16/27, 167yds, 2 TD, 2 INT) had an average day, and there were a few throws that should have never been made. But I'd rather he make the mistakes against FSU than a team that is beatable. Could have been worse, but could have been better.
Defense
D
Granted this was Florida State, but there were some coverages that were blown. There were either miscommunications or just stupidity. Either way, the defense couldn't stop much of anything.
Special Teams
B
A muffed punt was recovered. AMAZING. Granted the offense threw it right back to the other team on the next play, but hey, it was a good play. Cole Murphy was perfect on the day with 2 XPs and 2 FGs with a long of 32 yards. Also Riley Dixon was solid again.
Coaching
B
Good play calling and play calling that didn't hurt the team's chances of advancing the ball at a good rate. I liked the call to go for it near the goal line in the first half as well. It's FSU and the #1 team. If you want to upset them and you're within five yards of the goal line, why wouldn't you go for it? That's just smart, ESPN.
GPA
C+ (2.33)
Not a great game to see, but considering they were going against #1 and performed the way they did, it wasn't a bad effort. It was a nice scrimmage to get ready for Wake Forest this week.
Syracuse didn't have an awful outing. I'll take it for now. But this week against Wake Forest is a true test. Syracuse should be able to scrap out a win. If not, we have serious issues.

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Cue the Crying Child...

Can't say the result was that surprising. But it was still a loss.

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Florida State Quick Predictions

Mmm. Bacon.
Syracuse had a dreadful week last week. With an extra day of rest surely they will play better in their next game right? Not so fast, my friend! Florida State comes in #1 in the nation and will surely shred Syracuse.
Terrel Hunt is out 4-6 weeks with a broken fibula. Offensive Coordinator George McDonald has been demoted to WR coach and Tim Lester will take over OC duties going forward. I already feel better about how the team will be... next week. This weekend however, Syracuse is going to get smacked up. Probably similar to last season. Syracuse lost 59-3 last year at FSU. Can't see why this year will be much different. Sure FSU is a great team. They may or may not have an uncharged rapist and known shoplifter as their QB. Syracuse is starting a QB that hasn't started a game before, with a new OC. No big deal. Here is the real preview. FSU has more talented kids playing. Therefore, they will win. Handily. Syracuse may one day beat FSU. But that day is not Saturday. FSU 42 Syracuse 9.
This game will be available nationally on ESPN / Watch ESPN at 12:00pm. Syracuse loves the nooner. Both John and I will be in the Dome for Homecoming. Yaaaaay. We'll be inebriated and the Dome WiFi has been spotty this year so we'll see what kind of updates you'll get. Either way, don't be too upset with what you see. FSU is really, really good.

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After that game, everyone is looking at this man for answers.
Hopes were high that Syracuse could upset Louisville heading into the Dome. After all, the last time Louisville came into the Dome they were undefeated and left with a loss. The same fate would not be had for the Cardinals. Syracuse had a bad Friday night. The lose to Louisville 28 to 6.
Offense
D
Syracuse only managed 59 rushing yards. Louisville has one of the best rush defenses in the country so it isn't too surprising, but nobody managed to break out any runs longer than 19 yards. Terrel Hunt (201yds, 6.3avg, 0 TD, 2 INT) had a miserable day and looked off for most of this game. Syracuse couldn't sustain drives and failed to see the end zone. There were two HUGE drops by wide receivers in the end zone, which are not Hunt's fault at all, but still. The wide receivers had two horrific drops though. One that was a wide open touchdown catch that was just flat out dropped, and another falling out of the sideline that was a sure catch that was just dropped at the ground. Dreadful.
Defense
C
The defense was on the field for a long time, but the defense was able to recover a fumble and get an interception. They were also able to get at the QB and pressure or sack him several times. But the secondary again allowed a lot of yards through the air. It seemed no one could tackle in this game either. Seven missed tackles on one play is a joke. Dreadful.
Special Teams
D
At least the kicker did well. Coverage was a joke though. Kick coverage has been bad all season and it didn't improve for this game.
Coaching
F
The first safety in the game early in the second quarter was exclusively the coaching staff's fault for calling a pitch when you're receiving the ball in your end zone. No way he was getting out of the end zone on that play. It probably cost OC McDonald his job honestly. And rightly so. But this team looked unprepared and the play calling was dreadful all game. 
GPA
D (1.0)
Just a brutal game to watch for Syracuse fans.
Syracuse doesn't have an easier week playing Florida State. So look for a similar report card next week.

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Cue the Crying Child...

This child might not be crying hard enough for what I witnessed in that game.

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Louisville Quick Predictions

Oh... you again.
Syracuse is a team that has been struggling as of late. Overall, they look like a decent football team. But too many mistakes are being made. And mistakes in football are virtually always catastrophic. Louisville is a pretty good football team. But the last time they made the trip to the Dome they were undefeated and ranked #11/10 and left with a loss. Can history repeat itself?
On paper, both of these teams seem pretty similar in that they are both good defenses and weaker offenses. Syracuse struggles to consistently move the ball down the field, or sadly they earn drive killing penalties or worse, penalties in the Red Zone. Syracuse did cause five turnovers last weekend against Notre Dame. Louisville on the other hand hasn't allowed more than 23 points in a game all season. But they are starting freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon. So the question is, can Syracuse manage to sustain drives and put points on the board and manage to prevent Louisville from doing the same? I feel this is one of those games if I pick Syracuse to win they will lose and if I pick Syracuse to lose they will win. I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. I picked Syracuse to upset the Cards before the season started. I might as well keep that pick alive. Either Syracuse will manage to win a squeaker, or they are going to get smacked by Louisville. Either scenario seems possible to me right now. With a freshman QB, I think Syracuse can take advantage by putting pressure on him to make decisions, some of which will be bad. If Syracuse can force some bad passes and cause turnovers or perhaps force some fumbles by getting at a freshman QB that held onto the ball a little too long then Syracuse has a shot in this one. If Bonnafon is cool under pressure and is able to find open receivers, this game is probably over. The Syracuse secondary hasn't impressed me much this season. And now I'm basically saying that the whole Syracuse outcome is depending on them. Same as it is every game really. The defense can only do so much though. Syracuse must put points on the board and sustain drives. QB Terrel Hunt is up to the task and I like how he has been playing, but he needs to dig deeper and go to the next level. He can't do that alone though. He needs wide receivers to step up. And of course the offensive play calling has to be more aware of down and distance and stop calling bubble screen after bubble screen, or only five yard passing plays. They need to stretch the field because Hunt doesn't have the greatest touch on long passes, but he can strike gold on occasion. Syracuse needs to continue to follow Coach Shafer's lead and not be as conservative as Doug Marrone was. Shafer takes chances and I like that. At least trying to win is better than punting. Anyway, after all that I'll stick with my prediction of Syracuse winning. I'll say Syracuse 27 and Louisville 24. But really, Louisville will probably win and I'll feel like an asshole all weekend. You're welcome.
This game is available nationally on ESPN at 7:00pm. John will be in the Dome under the Friday Night Lights, and I'll be in the home office again, Tweeting along with you. Enjoy the game and your weekend, no matter the outcome.

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Perfect weather at MetLife Stadium for a late September game

This was the much anticipated dreaded unveiling of Syracuse's platinum uniforms. It went about as well as you figured it would: awful. But enough about that, there was a football game against #8 Notre Dame. We knew that the Irish defense would be difficult to crack, and points would probably be at a premium. The biggest question would be how well the Syracuse defense would hold a potent Irish offense. Surprisingly through the first quarter neither team scored. But then that changed. Ultimately, Notre Dame was too tough and dug the Orange into too deep a hole for them to climb out of, and was victorious 31-15.

Offense
B
First let me reiterate what I said above: Notre Dame plays a really tough defense. So that said, the B grade is a bit on a curve. A lot of credit goes to Terrel Hunt, who seemed to throw best when he had designed plays to throw the ball 10+ yards. The opening drives of each half started that way, with deep completions to Orange receivers. He had some errant throws, sure, but overall I think had a good game passing. The running game wasn't so lucky; the Irish defensive line was essentially a brick wall. What Notre Dame could execute on its offensive bubble screens, Syracuse lacked the necessary blocking to get any more than a yard or two each toss. Oh, and the longest offense rush was by -- who else -- punter Riley Dixon on a fake. I should probably downgrade the B because of more red zone woes, but, then I'd have to scroll back up.

Defense
B
I originally had this as a C+ but then I rethought it and there were two factors that made me change the grade: Notre Dame is really good, and this defensive unit created what, five turnovers? A big thing I noticed both live from section 336, and when watching the replay on DVR, is that Syracuse defenders had trouble shaking off blocks during offensive plays. The Irish offensive blockers, particularly the wide-outs, were so engaged that their defenders couldn't swarm toward the ball. This, as much as anything, led to the effectiveness of Notre Dame on the screens and short passes.

Special Teams
D
Honestly, the only reason this isn't a fail is because of the Riley Dixon fake punt. Otherwise, here's what we're looking at: 1-2 on field goals, 0-1 on extra point attempts. Why Syracuse, which plays at least six games in a DOME every season can't recruit the best kickers in the country, well, that doesn't make any sense to me.

Coaching
C
I'm not gonna rag on the coaching staff too awful much about its game plan or its play calling. In fact, I was real happy to see George McDonald let Hunt air the ball out, even in the absence of Ashton Broyld. In the days since the game, McDonald has been quoted as calling some of his plays the "fuck it" offense. I'm all for taking chances and opening things up, as long as they're smart about it. I'm still really weary about the discipline of the team -- way too many boneheaded penalties that had huge effects on drives, momentum, and field position. You can't say Syracuse wins without those penalties, but, you know Syracuse lost with them.

GPA
C+ (2.25)
I think this is pretty much the grade an average team should get against a good top 10 team. Look at the Orange stats -- turnover margin, offensive production -- you'd have thought Syracuse won. And if they had, it would have been a well earned win. But that's not how it worked out. But I think it's important to look at this game and realize that Syracuse played decently well in some areas of the game that gave the team a chance to win -- while at the same time realizing that there are areas that need improvement and until those things are fixed, teams will exploit them and that'll be what leads to future Syracuse losses.

It's unfortunate the schedule is what it is -- an NC State or a Wake Forest would be a great opponent right now. This Syracuse team could beat those teams. Instead, the Orange gets a gauntlet of Louisville and Florida State. Louisville is vulnerable, and Syracuse tends to get big time wins on Friday nights in the Dome (*cough* Villanova excluded *cough*). A win over the Cardinals would do great things to the morale of this team, which has played well enough the last two times out to earn a win, without the W to show for it.

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