GAINESVILLE FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Jacquain Williams #57 of the South Florida Bulls celebrates during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 11 2010 in Gainesville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Syracuse football might be 3-1 and tied for first place in the Big East, but that doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot to most folks. A quick glance at our schedule tells them that we're untested and unproven. Almost everyone expects the Orange to fade back into the Big East pack once conference play begins. Order will be restored, whatever that means.
SU follows up its easiest four-game stretch of the season with what might just be its hardest. If the Orange want to be taken seriously by their conference peers and around the nation, they'll need to continue this trend of reversing recent history.
A brief glimpse ahead, when the Orange face four teams they are a combined 0-20 against since 2005.
South Florida - The Orange have never, I repeat never, beaten South Florida. Since the first meeting in 2005, the Bulls are 5-0 and have won by an average score of 35-10. Last year's 34-20 loss was the first time Syracuse had scored at least 20 points against them. This year's squad isn't quite as good last year's but the deck is still stacked in their favor.
Marquis Spruill gets it:
"Colgate is a good team," he added. "But South Florida isn't going to be Colgate."
Pittsburgh -The Orange have only beaten their longtime rival once since 2002 and that was way back in 2004. Sure the Panthers looked horrible against Miami but they've got enough talent to turn it around. Besides, Dave "Coach P" Wannstedt does his best work when the expectations are gone.
West Virginia -The last time we beat West Virginia? 2001. The last time we put at least 20 points on the board against them? 2003. This year's game is in Morgantown, which doesn't help matters. The Mountaineers went toe-to-toe with LSU, just in case you want to base your entire idea of them on the Marshall game.
Cincinnati - The two-time defending Big East champs ain't what she used to be, but there's still enough to be afraid of on the other side of the ball. They're 1-3 but they seem to be getting it together as the season goes on...not good.
We've been talking about bowl games and winning seasons like they're a foregone conclusion. They're not. They are earned. Our new-found excitement over this team means we think they're capable of earning it. Whether or not they do it remains to be seen.