Syracuse vs. Cincinnati: Orange & Bearcats Headed In Opposite Directions

Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE

Two weeks ago, the Syracuse Orange were on their way to the Big East basement and the Cincinnati Bearcats had visions of a BCS Bowl game dancing in their head. Two weeks later...not so much.

Two weeks ago, the Syracuse Orange were on their way to the Big East basement and the Cincinnati Bearcats had visions of a BCS Bowl game dancing in their head.

Two weeks later, the Orange are back on track on a two-game winning streak while the Bearcats' hot start has sputtered in a two-game losing streak.

This Saturday at Noon, one of those teams will want to keep it's current streak going while the other will be looking to start a new one.

The Bearcats feel like if they're going to get back on track, they're going to have to stick with quarterback Munchie Legaux, despite his recent troubles.

The junior has thrown five interceptions in the last two games, leading to losses at Toledo and Louisville that knocked the Bearcats (5-2, 1-1 Big East) out of the national rankings and out of a front-runner position in the conference race. The worst was a lob into the end zone in overtime that was intercepted, helping Louisville pull out a 34-31 win on Friday.

The Syracuse defense has a thing for forcing quarterbacks to beat then with their arms and feet, so they're going to live or die with Munchie for sure.

As for the Orange, they might have saved their season in recent weeks but Doug Marrone wants to make it clear that two wins do not a program make.

"A lot of people write about that stuff, but I’m trying to have a significant season," Marrone said Monday. "It’s very difficult to do that. We’ve taken one step forward at times and then we take a few steps back. Our goal is to become more of a consistent team and program. I don’t put a lot into one game. That’s been done before in the past and I think it’s hurt us a little bit."

The Orange have a lot of obvious heroes, like Ryan Nassib, Marcus Sales and Jerome Smith. But don't forget about Jarrod West, the "other" wide receiver. He might be the No. 3 guy on the depth chart but West is emerging from the shadows of Sales and Sir Alec Lemon this season.

West set career highs with seven receptions and 98 receiving yards in the victory. He got the second-half rally started with a 30-yard touchdown reception on a perfect pass thrown by quarterback Ryan Nassib and set up a second TD minutes later by drawing a pass interference penalty in the end zone.

West is neck-and-neck with Lemon in catches and yardage on the season and will make for a great No. 1 WR next year.

When the Orange take the field Saturday at Nippert Stadium, they'll be doing so during the Ring of Red Game, apparently. What the hell is that? I guess it's a fancy way of saying the crowd will be doing a red-out. Fine. Whatever.

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