Syracuse football is many things, breathtaking to seizure-inducing, but, most assuredly, it's frustrating. What with its propensity for bone-headed mistakes, bone-headed penalties, and all around bone-headed play at the worst possible times. Earlier this week I covered how all these mistakes are becoming the Doug Marrone calling card -- not a good thing, if you were wondering.
But now, in what can best be described as what's done-is-done thinking, let's just enjoy the fact that Syracuse, the below .500 team with so many missed opportunities behind it, has the chance to pull off a major upset. This despite all its shortcomings. Sure we could harp on the bad (and there will be time for that later), but Marrone's team still can keep alive hope for a very unlikely bowl berth.
I mean things could be worse for Syracuse, right?
SU could already be thinking of next season instead of still focusing on what's ahead this year. It could be in a much darker situation with its coach. It could be 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008...well, you get the picture. I've written it before and I'm sure, God willing, I'll write it again: At the very least, SU football keeps things interesting.
In every game this season the Orange have had a chance to win -- even against USC where it was a nail-bitter late in the third quarter. With three games still on the slate, the Orange need just two wins to secure a .500 record and, more than likely, a bowl trip. Again, things could be worse.
So, yeah, watching the missed assignments, the blown tackles, and the countless mistakes on special teams can all be super frustrating, but at least Marrone and the Orange have something to play for. In November. And let's be real here, beating Louisville, as crazy as it sounds, would be a season definer.
The cardinals come in undefeated (9-0), the class of the Big East, with one of the best players in the league (Teddy "Terry" Bridgewater) and one of the best rising coaches in the country (Charlie Strong). In many ways, Louisville is what Syracuse wants to be. What Syracuse expects to be. It's not old school Miami, or even Virginia Tech, but all of a sudden, beating the top tier Cards would be a big deal.
And that's what should be concentrated on now. That shred of hope. The small light seen miles and miles down the end of the tunnel. And that's what I want to focus on here. Will SU, a team that has lost to lesser teams like Minnesota and Rutgers actually rise up and beat Louisville? Probably not. But that probably is a pretty good thing to have. Just ask Connecticut, the Huskies would love to have a little hope right now.
The fact that there even is a probably is pretty damn amazing, when you think about it.
A few years ago there wouldn't be a probably when Syracuse faced a top flight team. Yes, a few years ago SU did beat a highly ranked Cards team, but those Cardinals weren't as good as these Cardinals. Syracuse was all out pathetic, on offense and defense. SU would or could lose to just about anyone, and usually did.
So a glimmer should be enough. Enough to make fans forget about the mistakes and the penalties and the missed opportunities, and concentrate on the the fact this up and down, very flawed, Orange team should at least have chances at beating Louisville.
How will SU do it? Teddy Bridgewater is a problem. The Cards defense has been fairly stout this season, especially when it matters, but, most importantly, Syracuse will have to get out of Syracuse's way to win a game like this. This battle is likely to be close, tough, and a classic "hard fought" game. But the only way the Orange win is if it STOPS committing penalties and STOPS turning the ball over and STOPS screwing up on special teams. Of course, limiting Bridgewater and exposing the Cards defense will also be just as important.
But, mainly, the biggest key for any Syracuse game is for the Orange players not to take themselves out of it. Like they have all year. Like they have for the majority of Marrone's tenure. Should SU actually not commit the stupid plays this game should come down to the final few possessions, and that right there is pretty much a victory.
With Syracuse basketball starting up this week, Syracuse football will need to do everything in its power to stay relevant as long as it can. Beating the Cardinals would help that cause. Something that would really change everything, for now.
It's not too likely, but things could be worse.