Syracuse won the Pinstripe Bowl. They finished the season with eight wins. Delone Carter ended his SU career by damn-near rushing for 200 yards. Doug Marrone completed his hero-arc be returning to the stadium of his boyhood (DRINK!), winning the game and officially resurrecting the program that he's dedicated his adult life to leading.
Unfortunately, no one's going to talk about any of that. No, this will forever be remembered as The Salute Game or whatever name we decide on. So, we might as well talk about it.
Let's get one thing out of the way, it was an awful, awful, awful, awful call. If the roles were reversed and that was Syracuse not getting a chance for a 3-yard two-point conversation thanks to a post-touchdown salute, we would all be in jail right now because Yankee Stadium would be in ashes and 4,000 Kansas State fans would have burned with it.
The shame of the call is that it not only robbed Kansas State of a legit chance to tie the game up (in what was already a fantastic back-and-forth game), but it also cheapened Syracuse's hard-fought victory. The way the story will be handed down, Kansas State lost the game because of the call. The truth is, they didn't "lose" the game because of the call. To be quite fair, they still almost completed the two-point conversion even from eighteen-yards out. Even then, the game would have been tied and Syracuse would have had about 1:20 left to march down the field and kick a field goal of their own.
Who knows how it would have turned out. That's the crime. I don't know who Zach Bloxam is and I think he's just a casual bystander, but I think he astutely sums it up.
I feel for Syracuse. Great win is being marred by a pathetic call. The bad call imposes on both the winner AND the loser.
By making the ridiculous call, the referee not only took the game out of Kansas State's hands but he also tainted Syracuse's victory in the eyes of "the nation." Syracuse fans know we deserved to win the game and we played our asses of to earn it. Unfortunately not many other folks will ever know that.
(By the way, if you're that ref, don't even bother trying to explain it. Just run and hide for six months and pray you never get assigned to a Kansas State home game).
(And if we really want to get technical, Syracuse got hosed on a couple awful calls in the first half, so it's not like the refs were picking on KSU. The timing of theirs was much worse but we both got it bad.)
Alright, doom and gloom over. Like I said, Syracuse did a lot of great things today that warranted celebrating. Let's celebrate them.
1. We just won the Pinstripe Bowl - Syracuse finishes the season with eight wins, the most since 2001. I know that winning the bowl game wasn't "essential" to the rebirth of the program, but I really think it was more important than we wanted to give it credit for. I also think many of us spent the last few weeks downplaying the value of a win in order to shield ourselves from a loss.
Eight wins is such a better deal than seven. It's another monkey off our back. It makes Doug Marrone look even better than before. It's a big light in the sky to every potential recruit in NYC and watching at home that Syracuse is legit. The bar has been raised for the program yet again.
We're not just a year ahead of schedule, we might be two years ahead of schedule now.
2. Offensive explosion - Gotta say, that was a curious and impressive output by the Orange. They start the game by reverting to Robinson-esque play that almost put them in a 14-0 hole way early...and then they rebounded. They scored 36 points. THIRTY-SIX POINTS. This offense! The same one that could barely move the ball against UConn and BC. THIRTY-SIX!
And 500 yard of offense. FIVE HUNDRED (498 to be exact)! I guess we were just saving up for this one since early November.
Five catches, 172 yards, three touchdowns. WTF? It's like seeing a quadruple rainbow. What does it all mean? Has Sales always been this good and Marrone was just being petty cause he dogged it in practice? Is Sales pulling some kind of "final year of his contract" regiment together?
Marcus Sales began the season so far down our depth chart he wasn't even on it. He ends it with a Mike Williams-esque performance that basically carried the Orange to victory in the Pinstripe Bowl. We're going to need a few months to figure this out. In the meantime, congrats to Marcus on an amazing game. Perseverance pays off, kids.
4. Delone Carter - With a Kansas State run defense akin to certain types of holey cheese, you just knew Delone was going to have a good day. Who knew he was going to have the day to end all days. You couldn't ask for a better way to end his Syracuse career and immediately catapult himself into the NFL Draft discussion.
Delone had 198 yards on 27 carries (7.1 YPG) and two touchdowns. It was a career-best for the star RB who almost never got to play this season. Carter also moved into 3rd place on the all-time rushing list ahead of some guy named Larry Csonka. What a way to go.
5. Ryan Nassib - Nassib might not have closed the door on concerns over his long-term ability to run this offense, but he certainly quieted doubters for the foreseeable future with his performance.
Ryan finished with 239 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing. He finished the season with 202 completions, which passed Greg Paulus for the Syracuse school record set last year (194). He also showed some extremely good poise when the Orange needed it most and did his best when the O-line couldn't handle the K-State rush.
6. Ross Krautman - The freshman kicker might have missed that extra point but it was hardly his fault alone. A bad snap and bad hold certainly played a factor. That Krautman came back afterward and booted a 40-yard field goal that ended up being the difference in the game spoke volumes about the freshman's moxie. He finished the season with 18 field goals and having hit 16 in a row. Both of those marks tied records held by Gary Anderson.
7. Antwon Bailey - Syracuse's "second" back and the guy that Delone is handing over the keys to the kingdom to, had another patented "Antwon Bailey Game." Which is to say, he contributed in more ways that just running. Bailey had 50 yards rushing and 29 through the air but he'll likely be remembered in this game for two things.
One, the almost-touchdown he had to Marcus Sales on an option-pass. Something we could see more of next year. Two, the MONSTER block he had to give Nassib time in finding Marcus Sales on a touchdown pass.
Lots more heroes and stories within the game from here but we've got a lot of videos, photos and interviews to get through. Keep the celebration going...I don't know about you but I could get used to this whole winning bowl games business...