There's a reason Syracuse and Northwestern make good opponents for each other. In many ways, we're the same. Dave Rahme points out the similarities:
Syracuse and Northwestern universities share a common bond in college football. Each is a small, private school with a renowned journalism program. Each is trying to excel in a Bowl Championship Series conference. Each has to compete against state schools that boast state-of-the-art facilities funded by taxpayer dollars. Each is coached by an alum.
He also points out the one glaring difference. They are 2-0. We are 0-2. Granted, Northwestern's wins haven't been enticing (1-AA Towson and barely bearing Eastern Michigan) but at the end of the day they've got two and Syracuse has none. The Orange are out to remedy that situation. The players are saying it. Doug Marrone is saying it. The fans are thinking it. And Brent Axe sums it up:
This Syracuse team, and it's fans, want to see an honest-to-goodness solid win.
This team, and it's fans, need tangible proof of the progress they think they have been seeing so far in 2009.
It seems like we have reached the point where nothing but a win will give them that.
The senior players especially are walking a fine line between hunger and desperation. All the've ever known is dissappointment and losing. The chance to end that is within their grasp and for players like DT Anthony Perkins it's getting to a breaking point:
"I feel like we're right there at the wall and we keep hitting it and it's cracking, and people are seeing that," said Perkins, a defensive tackle. "Sooner or later we're going to punch right through that wall, and you're going to see there it is. That's when people are going to say, 'Wow there it is. That's what they were working for.'"
"We just want to go out and win," Perkins said. "I've been here for going on four years now, and I haven't won that much. I just want to win no matter what, at all costs. I just want to win."
Winning now is the point, of course. But laying the groundwork for the future can't be overlooked as well and Doug Marrone is doing a great job of balancing all of it.
"It's tough," he said, "because it's your responsibility to win and you try to put your players in the best position to win immediately. In the long run what you fight from a conceptual standpoint is is that who you want to be? You want to win now, but the other part of it is you're building a process."
Tackles Nick Speller and Andrew Tiller, wide receiver Alec Lemon, H-back Carl Cutler and quarterback Ryan Nassib, who saw their first college action on Sept. 5 vs. Minnesota, should play significant offensive roles Saturday. Ends Chandler Jones, Torrey Ball and Brandon Sharpe; linebacker E.J. Carter; and backs Phillip Thomas and Shamarko Thomas will see plenty of time on defense. Tailback Mike Jones will return kicks. Kickers Ryan Lichtenstein and Jake Smith are true freshmen. Several other first- or second-year rookies experience-wise will likely see action on special teams, with expanded roles a distinct possibility.
Center Jim McKenzie talks to the D.O. about the task at hand.
Northwestern is currently a 3.0 favorite, down from 6.5 at the beginning of the week.
Axe talks to Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and ESPN's Sean McDonough for insight into the game.
CNYCentral says SU Football hopes third time is the charm.
Prognosticator of prognosticators, Kige Ramsey, picks the Wildcats. For shame, Kige.