2003. It was the last time Syracuse started a season 3-1. It was also the last time Syracuse football was two games over .500.
Crazier things have happened, especially this college season, but the expectation is that SU will emerge from this weekend, and September, with a 3-1 record. For a team that hasn't won more than four games in a season since 2004, that's something. I don't care how we get the wins, right now its just all about getting them.
The Orange will want to take care of this one just like the last time they played the Raiders, a 52-6 drubbing in 1987. Some might not remember but it was actually a pretty nasty game, complete with fights and ejections.
While Colgate didn't have the physical talent the Orangemen had, the players stood their ground. And then some, said Syracuse defensive tackle Ted Gregory, who left the game with a bruised knee after what he considered to be a cheap shot.
"They obviously didn't come to play football, and the score indicated it," Gregory told the (Albany) Times Union after the game. "They were terrible. I'm very complimentary to the opposing team, always. This is the first time … I have absolutely no respect."
Respect aside, to win this time around, the Orange are going to have do one thing especially well...stop the run.
The Orange defense is built to stop the run. Colgate’s option offense is built to run the ball and control the clock. If it succeeds, SU is in trouble. To stop it the Orange will have to channel its aggression and make sure the dive, the quarterback and the pitch are accounted for on every option play. The Raiders are a disciplined bunch who will pounce on any crack SU gives them.
On the other side of the ball,the Raiders are giving up a massive amount of rushing yards per game (259.5). If Delone Carter the offensive line were looking for an opportunity to break out, this is it. The SU passing game is clicking but it would be so much nicer to have both options available.
Speaking of the passing game, all of a sudden the Orange have the look of a pass-first team. Doug Marrone doesn't exactly see it that way.
"I got a text message from someone afterward saying, ‘Have you turned into a passing game guy?’" Marrone said with a laugh. "I sent back, ‘No. I’m turning into the guy who does whatever he has to do to win the game.’ I know this: I don’t have an ego. All I care about is how we go about winning the football game."
Defenses so far have keyed in on Delone Carter and forced the Orange to beat them through the air. That strategy might switch if Nassib & Co. keep it up. And if they do keep it up, expect walk-on Cody Morgan to see more action. With Aaron Weaver gone, there's more room for growth in the WR core and Morgan is taking advantage of it:
"I've got to work twice as hard," he said. "But it's easy for me, because that's who I am. I'm a hard worker."
Mike Holmes has been named Big East Special Teams Player of the Week twice and yet there's still concern over his punt return abilities. Not to mention whether or not his focus should be on defense. Steve Rene, who has split some time on kick returns, might be seeing an increased workload at the punt return spot this week.
"Honestly, we're really looking at both," Marrone said."We want to get Steve Rene started, but we've got to make sure he's able to catch the ball first."
I would say that's a good thing to confirm. If there's any other area the Orange should keep their focus on heading into the game, it's penalties.The Orange are currently ranked 113th in penalty yards (234) and have 29 flags to their credit.
Brian at Orange44 says the Orange will roll 45-7.
The Cuse Connection says if all goes according to plan the Orange will be victorious.
The Idiots are all in a agreement that the Orange will crush the 'Gate.
Otto's Army is more concerned with over/unders and think the running game breaks out today.
As for me? I'm on board with a stomping, I'll take Syracuse 41 - 13. Gotta allow for some garbage points at the end.