If the Syracuse Orange played every game on a Friday night in the Dome after a bye week, they'd be National Champions.
For the first time since they beat West Virginia on a Friday night following a bye week last October, the Orange won a football game over a FBS opponent, beating the Pittsburgh Panthers 14-13. The win also ended a seven-game losing streak to the Panthers in the final tilt between the two before they head to the ACC.
It also means, in all seriousness and I swear to God I'm not smirking, Syracuse controls it's own destiny for a BCS Bowl bid. Okay, maybe I'm smirking a little.
I said this morning that this game was the last chance Syracuse had to be able to instill hope in its fans. They did that, even if they did it in their typical gnaw-your-fingernails fashion.
You wanted Syracuse to start a game strong? Well, they gave it to you but then they spent the rest of the night making you wonder why you didn't wish for them to start AND finish a game strong.
Ryan Nassib had his usual game. 75% solid passing and good decision making. Marred by that awful endzone INT and his lack of ability to slide (until the very end) while running. He's as graceful as a buffalo when he's running.He was 19-of-30 for 185 yards, no TDs and one INT. Might have been his worst statline of the year but...do you care?
Huge night for Jerome Smith, who emerged with 61 yards on 10 carries. PTG looked so-so on his 10 carries for 31 yards. And hey, I'm so glad Hackett and Marrone remembered that Adonis Ameen-Moore was on the roster. The big man did what we've all been waiting for him to do, bulldozed his way for a TD and a critical 3rd-down conversion.
Of course, Marrone & Hackett only have enough room in their brains for three RBs so Ashton Broyld was MIA.
I swear, if Nassib could find a way to hit Marcus Sales in stride, he'd score a TD every time. All his catches seem to be turnarounds that mean he has to juke his way for extra yardage. He led the team with six catches for 63 yards. Sir Alec Lemon caught five balls for 42 yards and He Went To Jarrod West caught three passes for 50 yards.
Defensively, it was a coming out part for Iron Brandon Sharpe. The DE garnered three sacks and dominated the Pitt OL along with his teammates.
And the big defensive play of the day came courtesy of Jeremi Wilkes, who stripped the ball from a Pitt WR, allowing Dyshawn Davis to scoop it up and run it back for what would be the game-winning score (via Big East Coast Bias):
Even if they didn't win the turnover battle, for the first time this season, Syracuse used turnovers to their advantage.
Of course, the secondary looked extremely rough otherwise. When he wasn't intentionally-grounding, Tino Sunseri threw for 319 yards, 130 of which were picked up by Devin Street. Street finished with 10 grabs on the day as he took great advantage of the porous Syracuse zone D.
Ultimately this game was all about Syracuse grabbing an early lead and then holding on for dear life to eek out the victory. It wasn't pretty and it might not have impressed many but it's a win and, right now, Syracuse fans aren't allowed to scoff at wins.
Scary moment when #SHAMARKO went down. As soon as it happened I'm assuming you gasped like I did. Thankfully he got up and walked off but consider his return for next week questionable. No doubt, given the concern Syracuse has for concussions, they're going to monitor him closely.
The Orange are 2-3. National Titles are out of the picture. But bowl games are not. Hope is not lost. Not yet. And that's a very good thing.