That title is for nc44.
It happened right around the middle of the third quarter. There was no denying it. It didn't happen on the field. It didn't even happen in the Dome. And yet, there it was.
Syracuse Orange fans had, for the most part, officially given up on this season.
Look back on Twitter. Look at the gamethread. Look on the message boards (if you dare). Whatever hope that most Orange fans had to turn this season around disappeared for good somewhere around the 8-9 minute mark of the third quarter.
The season isn't over (yet) but it sure feels like it. We may yet still play in a bowl game. We might even win that game. Doing so would spread some soothing balm across what has been a disappointing swoon (just like in 2010). But given the 5-2 start and the way the team, especially the offense, has regressed this season, it's going to be hard to find silver linings for many SU fans.
Doug Marrone fell on his sword after the last loss. Now that the Orange are 5-6 and find themselves in a do-or-die situation with a road game against Pitt on the heels of a four-game collapse, Marrone seems officially out of answers.
"Obviously, I’m upset. I don’t think I can even explain how I feel. Losing four straight games is unacceptable. We got beat in all three phases. They outrushed us. They threw for more yards when it counted. They out-physicaled us. They made plays; I thought their running back did a heck of a job. Defensively, they did a nice job in coverage. Early, we were not able to win or hold up long enough in the protection to get the ball down the field.
"I can’t believe that I’ve disappointed the fans, the people, everyone. It’s my responsibility, and that’s why I don’t think people can understand it. If I was selfish, and didn’t care – maybe.
"I care too much about this community, where this program was, where I want to take this program, the administration, the faculty and the players. Right now, I feel like I’m letting them down. So you don’t really know how that feels."
You want game analysis? Go find it at Syracuse.com. The Daily Orange assess the many issues we had on offense and defense. Andrew Pregler talks about Antwon Bailey's big day in defeat. A quick recap from The Juice. Watch the players talk post-game here and watch Marrone's presser here.
And just because I have to justify that title, let's mention that Cincinnati RB Isaiah Pead had a monster day. He rushed for 81 yards, caught 9 passes for 112 yards and picked up 54 yards on punt returns. His big plays included this 69-yard touchdown run and this back-breaking 24-yard run in which he somehow ran through the entire defense untouched.
In spite of everting we've seen, I still think the Orange have a chance to beat Pitt. By all accounts they shouldn't. On the road against a better team that's battling for bowl slotting. And yet, because it's Pitt and because Syracuse does weird things like win games like this, I think they could win a game like this.
"I don’t see anxiety, I see pressure. We’re not nervous, we’re not anxious. We needed a win and we didn’t get it. Now it’s crunch time and we’re going to see how badly we want this sixth win."
Unfortunately for them, the fanbase certainly feels that anxiety and those nerves. Last year, the Orange seemed ahead of schedule with 8 wins and a decent bowl game. While 6-6 might have been the right goal before the season, it certainly doesn't feel like it anymore. We've stepped back. Next week determines if we end up taking two steps back or only one.