It wasn't always pretty. Okay, it mostly wasn't pretty. There were a lot of penalties and special team gaffes, as usual. The Orange offense sputtered at times. Ryan Nassib wasn't always on the mark and his receiver did him no favors with dropped balls. There were mental errors and issues that need fine tuning and correction. There were plenty of mistakes.
But at the end of the day, Syracuse won. And they did so against a Big East team. And that Big East team was favored by double-digits earlier this week. And Syracuse had never beaten that Big East team before. And that win legitimized everything that had happened so far this season for the Orange. And that win put them, however briefly, in first-place in the conference. And that win, their fourth on the season, put them in a great position to qualify for a bowl game.
Think about this. The Orange have four wins. In 2005, they did not reach that mark. In 2006, it took them eleven games to get there. In 2007, they did not reach that. In 2008, they did not reach it either. In 2009, it took them eleven games again.
In 2010, it took them five games to get there.
While this is happening, the University of Michigan is in the middle of a conundrum. They're 5-1, but they're in trouble. As shown this weekend in their 34-17 loss to Michigan State, their defense is broken. It has been all season. It's a shame because their offense has some amazing weapons. It's enough to remind folks of the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs. So loaded on offense that they finished the year 13-3, the Chiefs were undone by their miserable defense that never corrected its many problems. Both teams have something in common...Greg Robinson. The same guy responsible for all those crappy aforementioned Syracuse seasons. Now, Michigan fans are calling for Robinson's head in his second season in a turn of events so predictable, I wish I could have put all of my assets and possessions on 10-1 odds that it would happen.
That Robinson's meltdown at Michigan and Syracuse's revival are happening at the exact same moment is no coincidence. Say what you will of curses, karma and omens, but you can't help but notice it. The spector of Greg Robinson continued to hang over this program for two years since he was let loose. Doug Marrone has moved heaven, Earth and more than a few unwilling football players off the team in order to correct the many mistakes in Gregger's wake. For a while there, you started to wonder if he could truly wipe the slate clean and start returning SU to its rightful place.
The job isn't done. Not by a longshot. But its safe to say that for the first time, Syracuse fans feel the Greg Robinson Era is behind us.
The Syracuse-USF series was a perfect metaphor for the GRE. We started playing in 2005, when Robinson took over. He never beat them in his four years. This start-up program that didn't even exist when Syracuse won a national title or when Dick MacPherson was leading the Orange to Sugar Bowls and 10-win seasons, dominated us in a way that just didn't seem logical. Last season, Doug Marrone hadn't yet removed the stench of Robinson and the Orange lost still.
Finally, now with the program actually moving in the right direction, they defeated the Bulls and ended a streak that represented everything terrible about the Greg Robinson Era. All the while, Robinson's shortcomings become too much to bear at Michigan where, for some reason, they found him a suitable replacement for Scott Shafer. Shafer, meanwhile, is the brilliant defensive architect of that Syracuse win over South Florida and is en route to becoming a head coach himself within the next three years.
Maybe "curse" is the wrong word. The Orange weren't cursed by Greg Robinson. But he did leave behind an impending sense of dread. That things will always go wrong. That is over now.
As for where we go from here, who knows. There isn't a team in the Big East that scares us. Boston College doesn't scare us either. The sky is the limit, except when we're in the Dome and then the Dome ceiling is the limit. But you get my point. I don't know how many games we're going to win this year, but we're already back on the road that Syracuse football is supposed to be on. There may come a day soon when we don't go insane because we beat USF. We reserve that for winning conference titles and bowl games. But until then, we'll appreciate every win. And the knowledge that the Greg Robinson Era truly died this weekend.
Syracuse vs South Florida Recap: The Sunny Side...Brent Axe
Syracuse vs South Florida Recap: The Dark Side...Brent Axe
Syracuse vs South Florida Recap: This, That, and The Other Thing...Brent Axe
Orange checks South Florida off list of teams it needs to beat with 13-9 win in Tampa...Nolan Weidner
Kickoff return ignited South Florida, but the feeling soon fizzled in loss to Syracuse football team...Dave Rahme
DRIVE THROUGH: Syracuse marches full field for breakout Big East win, holds off USF...Daily Orange
Lamar's 94-yard TD return wasn't enough...Greg Auman
What We Learned In The Big East: Take Syracuse Seriously...Brian Bennett
Don't look now, but the 'Cuse is loose!...CFT
|Sunny day for SU at South Florida|