Could you imagine it? Actually, because it's so improbable, you probably can't picture it. But just try, for a second, to think about the final horn sounding, Syracuse and Southern California heading to mid-field to shake hands, sideline reporters racing to both Doug Marrone and Lane Kiffin. The scoreboard reads Syracuse 31 - USC 28. Or Syracuse 20 - USC 17. Whatever, it doesn't matter, all you know is SU, the program left for dead by practically everyone, just upset U.S. freakin' C.
I've already given you how I think SU could win, or at least stay in the game, tomorrow, but what if it does pull out a W? What would that mean for this team, the program, Marrone? Would it change everything for everyone, or would it just be a big win forgotten about when the Orange miss another bowl game?
I don't think the Orange will win. I do see a feistier game than most people expect, but in the end the Trojans have too much fire power for Syracuse to pull out a victory. But as I pointed out in my last post, there have been a few times where I thought SU had no chance to beat a national power, only to surprise all of us by rising up and doing what no one thought was possible.
If that happens, if Syracuse walks out of the new Meadowlands victors tomorrow, everything will change. Syracuse football as we know it will be, for the foreseeable future, totally different than what we know it as now.
The immediate result would be that the loss against Northwestern was simply a fluke. A game where too many dumb early-season mistakes over-shadowed a team on the rise. Fans can breathe of a sigh of relief as not only will that gaffe be forgotten, but SU will suddenly become a team worthy of national coverage. That's right, a win tomorrow means, at the very least, we'll once again see Syracuse in the "Others Receiving Votes' category of the polls.
Not only that, but a win over Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee, and Robert Woods would change everyone's expectations for this season. Suddenly, Syracuse is the favorite to take the Big East crown, win 8 to 10 games, and, hold on to your...hats(?), play in the Orange Bowl. That's right, the BCS for Syracuse!
And the thing is, a W tomorrow is even bigger than just changing 2012. Let's assume SU wins by running the no-huddle let-it-fly offense it ran so wonderfully against Northwestern. If that's the case; a) holy crap is it going to be fun to watch SU over the next 10 to 20 years; b) the Carrier Dome all of a sudden becomes a top destination for recruits wanting to be showcased the right way; and c) the ceiling for this program, not just this season, gets raised, a lot.
Assuming SU doesn't fall apart after the win, come 2013 Syracuse won't just be a, "Oh yeah, Syracuse joined the ACC." Instead, the talk becomes, "Can Syracuse be a sleeper and compete with Florida State and the Hokies?" In fact, the jump to the new conference will seem less daunting for the fans, too. I think I speak for most of us when I
say write that I'm a little nervous SU will get hammered in Death Valley, or in Tallahassee, or Blacksburg. A win in a fairly, not totally, neutral stadium, against the mighty Trojans erases those doubts.
It also changes the questions about Marrone, who, let's be honest, is starting to get picked apart ever since the Pinstripe Bowl win. And by the way, rumblings have it that either the school is working on, or is at least seriously considering, an extension for Marrone (rumors I can't confirm). A victory in Jersey, however it may happen, makes Marrone worth every penny of any extension, no matter the cost.
Go a head and pretend SU sticks around, fights, claws, makes plays against a really, really good team, and then, shockingly, comes out with a victory tomorrow. Everything changes for team, head coach, and the embattled program. All in an instant. Can you imagine?