It's Maine week! And truth be told, I don't really like the week leading up to a game like this. It's a classic, nothing-to-gain-everything-to-lose game. I know it will be helpful for the team and should get us back on track, but...you know. The worrying begins to set in.
The Orange aren't preparing as if this a cakewalk. They're treating Maine as if they're the No. 1 team in all the land. That sounds fine, I'd much rather see the Orange come out and feel like they need to put 50 up on the Bears in the first half than tap-dance around them all day, like last year.
The Daily Orange's Brett LoGiurato disagrees. He thinks the Orange shouldn't treat Maine like they're Alabama. They should treat them like they're...well...I'm not quite sure.
But it’s another step to cynically look at each opponent like the No. 1 flavor of the week. For obvious starters, Alabama has the returning Heisman Trophy winner lining up at running back. And for kicks, Maine lifelessly lost its home opener 3-0. To Albany. Needless to say, the Crimson Tide would turn the Black Bears black and blue.
Those types of words try to preemptively put the program leaps and bounds ahead of where it is. And it’s why losses like the sorry one to Washington happen. It takes a different mindset, a different approach, to face Washington than it does Maine.
I feel like Brett's taking this way too literally. I mean, he's right in the sense that Alabama and Maine are about as far apart as two football teams can be. But what is the alternative? To prepare as if Maine is "kinda good?" To prepare as if Maine "is a 8-4 team from the Big 12?" I don't see how the alternative translates in the real world. You either prepare for your opponent 100% or you don't. It's not really about seeing Maine as the best team in the nation, it's about seeing Maine as a credible threat to beat you. And that's all HCDM is trying to instill in his players.
As for those expectations, Marrone remembers what happened last year when the Bears pulled out every trick in the book. The Orange will be ready this time.
"We know we’ll get their best when they come in here," Marrone said. "I have a lot of respect for (Maine head coach Jack) Cosgrove and that football team. … They’re always big, they’re always tough, they’re always physical and then, after last year, we have to expect the unexpected anywhere on the field."
The players agree with that assessment:
"You don't know what these guys could do," says Hogue, "they could do anything, they could do a toss pas like in high school, things like that. And it kinda reminds you that anything could happen on any given Saturday, so you've got to be excited, you gotta be ready for anything."
As for the Black Bears themselves, they're preparing. To get PAAAAAID.
The University of Maine will get a guarantee of $300,000 to play Syracuse on Saturday night, the kind of paycheck that has made a once-a-year BCS opponent a staple in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The Black Bears have received over $2 million in guaranteed money from its BCS opponents after this year's game at Syracuse. The Black Bears had received $1.9 million coming into this year, including $200,000 from Florida State and the ACC after the Seminoles dropped Maine in favor of Miami last year.