I am that really optimistic fan most people are but try really hard to ignore when walking out onto the Vegas Strip. I pick the Steelers to go 16-0 every season, have waited for the Pirates to go .500 for the last 19 years, and wrote this about the Orange last season. Before you all discredit everything I am about to say let's clear up some major premises of my article that I think most people will agree are fact at this point: 1) Overall, this team is better than last year's team. 2) Ryan Nassib is putting together a season that may go down in Syracuse lore as one of the best EVER by a 'Cuse QB. 3) 'Cuse is by far and away the best 0-2 team in the country.
Alright, are we ok with all that after just two weeks? Good. Because these three premises are a huge part of why I honestly believe Syracuse can and will make a solid push to win the Big East.
There are two major forces at play if the Orange are going to win the Big East: Syracuse and everyone else. First, for the Orange. The offense is finally what we wished it would be. Bud Poliquin made a point in last week's Bud and Brent show that I philosophically agree with. The Orange are blessed with a Domed stadium that turns electric when the offense airs out the ball. This in turn can create one of the best home field advantages in sports. (Trust me, the 20,000 or so left for Northwestern beat the 60,000+ at Steelers games by a mile.)
This season, with a veteran quarterback and coordinator playing to his signal caller's strengths, Marrone is tapping into those years he spent with Sean Peyton and bringing an air raid to 'Cuse. As of now, it looks like no one will stop the Orange with this attack. So long as Syracuse doesn't shoot itself in the foot, there is no reason they won't score 25+ a game. Furthermore, Prince Tyson-Gulley and Jerome Smith look like a great complimentary duo to keep the defenses honest. The best part of this? The offense line WITHOUT Justin Pugh looks remarkably solid. Front to back, the offense is establishing itself as one of the best in the conference.
The defensive discussion is tied into the discussion on everyone else in the Big East. Again, time for some basic principles: Temple and Pitt look awful. Pitt has hope, Temple has none. There are two wins right there. UConn has absolutely no offense whatsoever, so even the mediocre Orange defense should hold the Huskies enough for Nassib to put up 30 and win.
Next is the tier of mid range Big East talent: USF, Rutgers, Cincy. USF just lost Sterling Giffin and should have lost to Nevada. They gave up over 500 yards of total offense. I smell a career defining day for Nassib in South Florida. Rutgers is in the same boat as UConn except with a much better defense. But once again, back to the Orange offense: 25 points or more. That should be more than enough for the Orange to put away a stagnent Rutgers. Finally Cincy. I throw them in this mid group because that's where everyone thought they'd be preseason and all they did was beat Pitt. There's no way Marrone loses to a guy named Munchie. Can't happen. Orange find a way to win that one.
So with only Louisville remaning, I see the Orange looking at an undefeated Big East campaign. Oh and that game happens to be
Homecoming Orange Central Senior Day and should be a packed Dome. It should be an ESPN highlight game with about 1,000 combined yards and of course, optimistic me takes Syracuse at home.
Now, can all of this change in a heartbeat? Of course, that's football. But teams don't make dramatic changes once the season has begun unless they're desperate. We know enough about Syracuse to say this team has more talent than we thought and is better coached than lat year. The defense is going to play bend not break but they will only face one more really good offensive team all year. The Big East is always a crapshoot so why can't Syracuse get hot and rip off a string of wins behind Nassib's new arm?
I'm not going to say put your money on Cuse to win the whole shebang. But, the logic is there for a $20 bet to play the numbers at your local casino. Heck, maybe extreme optimism finally pays off and we leave frolicking for ACC fields with a nice shiny trophy.