It's that moment before the first big battle in Braveheart. The Scots have assembled in defiance of the English but they seem outmatched and outnumbered. And they didn't come here to die for a bunch of lords so they could get more lands. So, they turn and start to walk away. That's when one of the lords yells out, "Stop, men! Do not flee! Wait until we've negotiated!" At that moment, William Wallace shows up, delivers his "Freedom!" speech and the rest is made-up movie history.
But my point is this...just because it looks dark so early in the war, do not assume the outcome of the Villanova game dictates the rest of the season. In fact, Syracuse seems to have a knack for looking a certain way early on only to look completely different by the time November rolls around.
It's that lack of consistency that keeps thing interesting...
2012: The Orange open season with a 1-3 record, which includes a loss at home to Northwestern, a loss to USC at MetLife, a closer-than-it-should-be win over Stony Brook and a loss on the road to Minnesota. It looks like the Orange were doomed. A loss to Rutgers drops the team to 2-4 and bowl eligibility was in jeopardy. Then, the team got it together and rattled five wins in six games to secure a Pinstripe Bowl berth.
2011: The Orange storm out of the gate and, thanks to a shady PAT, went to 5-2 to start the season. Dreams of conference titles and BCS bowls danced in our heads. And then...five-straight losses doomed up to a bowl-less December.
2010: The Orange looked completely overmatched against Washington early, then got it together to get to 6-2 and then the floor fell out from underneath the offense against UConn and BC as we backed into our first bowl game in years.
I know, it's not always shiny and happy, but I suppose the point is, this squad has a way of looking extremely different in September than it does in November. We've seen Syracuse teams win ugly and/or lose only to watch them pick themselves up and win games you wouldn't have thought possible later on. You can't let their first performance dictate what they'll look like in 7-8 weeks.
Clearly, the team needs work. And this "poorly-timed" bye week might end up being the best thing for them. They've seen what's wrong and they still get to walk away with a win in spite of it. Now we can hope they'll get on the path to turning into the team we hoped they be. They might not totally get there, but they can get better. If the last five years of Syracuse Football has taught us nothing else, it is that.
H/T: CFB Data Warehouse