Buffaloed

I feel for Buffalo fans, I really do. It can't be easy. The Sabres have been on a "close but no cigar" kind of streak for a few years now. The Bills seem to always be a trendy pre-season pick but haven't done anything in years. Oh, and they're starting the process of moving to Toronto (or at least playing some home games there). And while I'm sure there aren't too many Buffaloans (Buffalons? Buffalites?) spending their nights talking up the University AT Buffalo's football team, they had a chance to provide one hell of a spark for the city and the region by beating the nearby "powerhouse" Syracuse Orange. Sadly for them (but good for us), they carried on the local tradition.

The Orange won 20-12 and it was about as ugly a win as you thought it might be. Take away a key fumble on a kickoff that the Orange converted for a touchdown and this was a pick'm kind of game. Still, a win's a win these days and we should celebrate the things that we can.

Taj Smith and Mike Williams became the first Orange receiving duo in 14 years to get more than 100 yards in a game each. Williams added a touchdown, the fifth consecutive game he has notched one. Williams was named to the Big East weekly honor roll.

Andrew Robinson was 15-of-28 for 265 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while the Doug Hogue Era with 83 yards and a TD for the freshman.

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this was win #7 of the Greg Robinson Era. Hooray for that. (If you're keeping score, 28% of all the wins in the last three seasons have come against the Bulls)

Now as for Curtis Brinkley, who is out for the season "with a leg." (Were the Syracuse running backs on a football video game cover that I don't know about?) It's definitely a shame as Brinkley was beginning to put together another solid game. While Brinkley broke his fibula and will face surgery, it doesn't specifically mean his playing days are over. What it does mean is that there's going to be a very interesting battle for halfback between Delone Carter, Curtis Brinkley, Doug Hogue and who know who else. In the meantime, it looks like it's Hogue's show, while Paul "Stonehands" Chiara and Jeremy Sellers will see some time as well in the halfback and fullback slots.

Never was the SU defense's policy of "bend but don't break" more evident than it was this weekend. It was a case of "2 out of 3," where the Orange D would make great plays to stuff the Bulls running game or flush QB Drew Willy out of the pocket and force a 3rd or even 4th down conversion but then the Bulls would always seem to find a way to convert. Until they got near the goal line, that is, where the Orange remained stout. Against a team like Buffalo, it's a good strategy for the talent you have, but it made it glaringly obvious why we've been blown out so many times. We don't have many, if any, teams on the remaining schedule we can keep to field goals the same way.

Finally, I wanted to applaud the "silver-out" technique imposed by Orange fans to make it look like one giant silvery surrounding all through the Dome. At least I assumed that's what was going on. According to the official announcement, the announced crowd (30k) was the smallest since 1986, and I'm willing to say the announced crowd was about 10,000 higher than the one that showed up. Can't say I blame anyone. Where's Mini-Kiss when you need them?

With the win, Greg Robinson somehow manages to get the monkey off his back a little while. I know we had some fun with the idea that this was a must-win for Greggy but it really does seem like by winning, Greg has basically saved his job for the rest of the season. There are no more games coming up that should be sure things so I don't really see a moment ahead in 2007 that will tip the scales back towards giving Greg the boot prematurely. He's our coach through the end of November, for better or worse.

Still, it makes you wonder...what would have happened had we lost 42-10? Would Gross have fired Robinson on Sunday? Would he have said Robinson's job is up at the end of the season? Would he have publicly called out his coach at all? My guess is #2. I don't think there was ever a time where Robinson honestly wouldn't have made it through the season (as much as it might have made sense) but I'm sure his fate has been a topic of discussion behind closed doors.

So we enter the bye week before we meet rejuvenated Pittsburgh. Sounds good, but I'm remiss to say anything more positive than that. I highly doubt that the extra week will allow the SU braintrust to come up with any schemes or plans that will dazzle us in two weeks time. If anything, its a time for the team to savor what a win feels like for a few days, rest up, heal and keep working on the fundamentals. Maybe it's time to pull a USC as well and scour the campus for some untapped hogmollies. Can't be much worse in that department, can it?



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