I can imagine you might have some items of note stuck in your craw after the Syracuse Orange defeated the Toledo Rockets 33-30 in overtime. I can imagine that you might have an entire wheelbarrow full of them.
Before you unload them, four games into the season I think it's only fair to lay some cards on the table.
By this point, we know who this Syracuse team is. They're better as an offensive unit. They're not as good as a defensive unit. They still lack "big-playability" but they seem to know how to take a momentum swing and run with it.
They're the kind of team that's going to struggle against Wake Forest, Rhode Island and Toledo. They're also the kind of team that is going to defeat Wake Forest, Rhode Island and Toledo.
They're not going to be able to compete with teams like USC. They are going to be able to compete with a lot of the teams left on their schedule.
They will not win all of those games. They will win some of them.
They are halfway to a bowl game.
They are 3-1 at the end of September, which if I remember correctly, was our expectation heading into the season.
Syracuse was 3-1 last year with wins over two FCS teams and a terrible MAC team. Syracuse is 3-1 this year with wins over a BCS conference team, a FCS team and a very good MAC team.
They are not "there." They are where they are.
It wasn't always fun but the Toledo game was always interesting. Down early in a 10-0 hole. Macky MacPherson snapping to the ghost of Don McPherson. Ryan Nassib getting PIIIIIISED. Eric Page catching 497 passes for 8,628 yards (approx). Van Chew's perfect spiral. Das Boot putting the fear of God into us with every kick. I-don't-remember-how-many lead changes. Nick Provo looking a lot like John Mackey. Antwon Bailey busting loose. Prince-Tyson Gulley getting you excited about the future. Marquis Spruill straight-up murdering people. Alec Lemon whipping his head back-and-forth after the touchdown catch. Phil Thomas' 4th-down stick. Toledo not quitting. Syracuse not quitting. Overtime. Kevyn Scott's sweet redemption on behalf of the secondary. God damn victory.
It was not pretty to say the least and there are areas of concern so great that I'm not sure they'll be getting much better this season. That said, a win is a win is a win (go ask Louisville, Pitt, Rutgers and so many other teams about that).
There are eight games left on the schedule. Go look at it. Before you tell me you think this team is going to struggle to win three more games this season...have a peek. How many teams do you see that Syracuse can't hang with? Maybe West Virginia? Cincy if their offense is clicking? Other than that, does anyone strike the fear of God into you? And I'm not saying Syracuse is a shoo-in to win those games. I'm just saying for all their faults, the Orange aren't that much worse than most other teams in the Big East (and Tulane, who just lost to Duke).
The final word goes to Mike Vanlieshout, who tweeted me the following after the game:
Sorry, Just for Men Gel, but if you want that perfect blend of gray, just become a
We're going to earn that Belk Bowl bid, you guys.