Admit it. About an hour into Syracuse's game at South Florida Saturday, you were not only finally, officially, ready to give up on the 2012 Orange season, you were ready to give up on head coach Doug Marrone.
It seems like every other day, every other game, we're wondering, or wondering if we should wonder, about Marrone. But I'll own this one, I was ready to throw in the towel on Orange football 2012 and I was cursing out Marrone. "What the hell!? They're making BJ Daniels look like Otto Graham!" (I may be a little dated when it comes to comparisons.)
Then, of course, there was that second half. A breath-taking two quarters. Two quarters that completely summarized this season.
First, when all hope looked lost, the Orange blazed its way from down 20 points to up one. Then, with its fans starting to feel good about their life choices, the Orange allowed South Flordia to take control of the game, again. Subsequently, gut-punching the SU fans who had foolishly allowed themselves to feel confident. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a familiar scenario for Syracuse football.
I mean, to win, the Orange needed 75 yards AND a touchdown? No way. No freakin' way, especially without any timeouts. Still, we watch, knowing it wasn't going to happen. Ryan Nassib, zips a strike to Jarrod West. 19 yards, a first down, and West gets out of bounds. OK, great quick play, but still, no way this is happening. Three more plays, two completions, and all of a sudden the Orange are knocking on something special and you're thinking, "Maybe!"
Some maddening decisions by the officials, some weird decisions by the Bulls, and just like that Nassib finds Alec Lemon in the end zone with seconds left on the clock. What. The. Hell!? Syracuse won, on the road, against a conference foe, needing a huge comeback and clutch touchdown? Unbelievable.
And now, all of a sudden, this Orange team is riding high at 4-4 overall and 3-1 in the conference. Hell, win out and SU is crashing the BCS party like the husband of a co-worker who shows up to the company party wearing jeans and a wolf t-shirt.
But for now, the big question becomes, what did Saturday's win mean?
Let's throw it out to the Twitterati - Is 2012 saved for Syracuse?
@OrangeChuck I vote saved. I think most figured 5-6 wins so if they beat Temple at least, they are on par.
Hmm..not the most inspiring tweet out there, but probably the most realistic. No one was thinking 10 wins back in September, and given the way the Orange started the year, five wins may actually be a true benchmark of success now.
Let's get to some more responses to truly get a pulse on what SU fans are thinking after watching their team fight and battle back to .500.
@Shue_Box: Question: Did you go to ESM?
OK, let's continue:
@jcainiii: I don't know about saving the season, but I predict they finish at .500 and get an invite.
Which, after watching this team lose several winnable games, is a pretty big accomplishment, no? So 2012, to this point, is kind of saved, right?
@DMait44: I'm just so happy that the next game means something so I say saved.
Loved this one. Like a tournament, the win-or-go-home approach to the rest of the season. Donald's tweet was the first in a series of cautiously-optimistic responses. A fan base that's been kicked in the face, punched in the gut, and left for dead multiple times finally starting to dust itself off, starting to get hope.
@RenegadePumkin: A team like this can only save its season one play at a time. But it saved my faith in its season.
(There is a one-hundred percent chance, o-n-e h-u-n-d-r-e-d, that I'm going to include someone with the tweeter handle RenegadePumkin.)
@ej62564: saved it for the moment, a loss would've ended relevancy still need to build on it not done yet
Notice something here? A reluctance to fully accepting hope. A hesitancy that this is legit.
Very understandable. The Orange fan has been duped too many times to fall for the ol' three wins in four games, an offense led by a fifth-year senior who's putting up big numbers, legit weapons at wide out and tight end, is enough to make it to a bowl game.
Still, any bowl game would do, not a BCS game, but any bowl, the Idaho Potato thing, would suffice.
But that's the thing, you either have expectations or your don't. For years Orange fans haven't been lucky enough to have any, or when fans do have some hope, it's quickly dashed away.
Which could happen again, possibly Saturday afternoon in Ohio. Cincinnati could get up a couple of scores, Nassib could throw a couple of picks, and the SU defense could try its special Swiss Cheese defense. Should that happen, no one will be thinking about whatever hope is. Everything will go back to normal.
But until then, there may be something special brewing here. Not 1987 special, obviously, but, who knows, maybe SU will end up with a Big East title, in its last year playing in the conference. For now, the question of, When does basketball start? can wait.
Actually, like Donald's tweet demonstrated, for fans, this Syracuse football season is much like basketball's March Madness. A loss wouldn't really end the season a way a loss does in the NCAA tournament, but a loss would put an end to these expectations.
But for now, there is hope, there is meaning. Just a week after giving up on 2012 and cursing out Marrone, the SU football team is still fighting, still breathing. A season saved, for now.