Just put together my weekly College Football Buffet feature on SBNation.com and when I was compiling this weekend's games and TV listings, the SU-Rutgers game wasn't even listed. Had I not been an SU fan I probably would have just missed it altogether. The Battle For Who Could Care Less might be more apt, apparently.
Look, you want facts about tomorrow's game against Rutgers? Doug Marrone will give you facts.
"We’re playing a Rutgers team that’s a good football team," Doug Marrone said earlier this week. "Coach (Greg) Schiano has been there for nine years. He’s done a good job of building that program."
Let's get the scary stuff out of the way first. The Orange are walking wounded, they're without their two best defensive players, their best offensive player and there's no telling how many more players could be lost between now and then. Plus, there's this stuff:
Rutgers will enter the game with the nation’s best turnover margin at plus-21 (29 forced, eight committed). It boasts a run defense that allows only 98.2 yards per game, a physical offensive line and one of the conference’s elite deep threats in Tim Brown, who averages 21.5 yards per reception.
Well, let's shift focus, shall we? I think we can all agree that we've officially tuned out football season anyway. So let's take some time to worry about honor the seniors so we can get them on their way and move forward. Like Lavar Lobdell, Andrew Robinson and Mike Stenclik.
Lavar Lobdell. Andrew Robinson. Mike Stenclik. Each arrived determined to lead SU to Big East championships and big-time bowl games. Each will run through the tunnel and onto the Carrier Dome turf for the final time shortly before 3:30 p.m. Saturday having tasted neither.
In that regard they failed, but don’t dare call them failures. Or losers. Or quitters. Each has endured coaching changes. Each has suffered injuries. Each has experienced broken dreams of stardom. And each is still here, playing in a reduced role for love of the game and loyalty to teammates, coach and school.
"Lobdell appeared to be headed to Miami." Wow.
I definitely think Robinson in particular deserves his own post and I'll get to that next week, but despite their efforts we do say thanks to the seniors for their efforts. They got dealt a crap hand and they made the best of it...those that are still here.
As for predictions...
This game should still be won through the air by Rutgers, in what will be an ugly game not in terms of the score, but it terms of how anemic Syracuse will probably be, and how tragic some breaks will go. Rutgers over Syracuse in this one, 31 to 13.
Rutgers 27, Syracuse 7: The Orange have totaled 19 points in their last two games since Mike Williams quit. Now they're going up against a defense that has hit its stride and is adept at creating turnovers. That's not a good matchup for interception machine Greg Paulus. Rutgers wins easily to continue its late-season run.
LVO prediction: Rutgers 27 Syracuse 10
Reyes39 prediction: Rutgers 27 Syracuse 14
As for myself, I have to believe that the Scarlet Knights are peaking and the Orange are dropping off a cliff. I have no doubt the SU players, what's left of them, will bust their asses and the seniors will do their best. But it's just not going to be enough. And unfortunately, I don't think Schiano will take his foot off the gas as well. Something about that guy...he doesn't like us.
Rutgers 38, Syracuse 13