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SU Football: The Thing About Saturday

A bad loss but it wasn't as bad as they used to be for Syracuse

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

So it won't be ESPN GameDay for the Syracuse Orange. And you can forget about that three wins in three games start to a season, too. Which, as you know, would have been the first 3-0 start to a fall for the Orange men since 1991.

All were possibilities when the Orange hit the field at the Carrier Dome this past weekend. All were out the window by mid-afternoon Saturday.

Instead, Syracuse was beaten by two touchdowns at home by a team that isn't exactly on tips of tongues for Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso. And next up for Scott Shafer's group is top-ten Notre Dame followed by a bunch of teams that could make Maryland look like ITT Tech.

In other words: it may be getting late real early around here.

But the thing is, Syracuse kind of looked the part on Saturday. A little bit, anyway.

Stick with me here.

It's tough to think that about a team that was down 31-13 at halftime, I know, yet I never got the impression the Terrapins were that overwhelming. Actually, until Terrel Hunt's pick-six late in the first half, I fully expected SU to get back within 24-20 at the break. Down four going into the third? Very doable for Syracuse.

And how about the offense? Syracuse just kept moving the ball up and down the turf all day long to the tune of 589 total yards! Hunt accounting for 375 total yards all by himself. Throw in Prince Tyson-Gulley's inspired play (138 yards rushing) and Adonis Ameen-Moore's 68 yards rushing on just nine carries and it's fairly shocking the Orange didn't win.

Then again, in so many different ways, Syracuse shot itself in the foot on Saturday.

There's that defense, which still has trouble covering receivers and tackling, most notably on third downs. Oh, and the offense did seem to get bogged down in the red-zone. Don't forget the penalties, too: 8 called against Syracuse for a total of 89 yards. Yes, the Terps deserve all the credit for the win, but it's not like Syracuse didn't help their cause more than a little.

And that actually fits in line with my feelings for this team, for this program.

Greg Robinson isn't walking through that door! I know it seems like Syracuse has been here a million times before over the last decade, maybe even longer. A loss in a winnable game, a game that carries a little to a lot of levity to it. A chance to show the world, and more importantly the fans, that Syracuse is not only back but worthy of national attention. In the past Syracuse has been punched in the mouth in those games. But this time, the Orange kind of beat the Orange.

Failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities? Check. Missed easy tackles? Yup. Mental gaffes? Oh yes. But overpowered? No, not really.

This loss isn't because we're dealing with "the same ol' Syracuse" here.

More than the frustrating football and the questionable play-calling by George McDonald, what we witnessed on Saturday were fixable mistakes. So many fixable mistakes. If those errors didn't happen Syracuse may still have lost, true, but I genuinely don't know about that. I can't get that Hunt to Likely interception out of my mind. It was just a completely errant toss that completely changed the course of the game. Just the same, Norton's missed field goal and the complete flake-job on tackling Brandon Ross' what-should-have-been-a-five-yard-completion 90-yard touchdown catch were also crazy game-changers.

So where does Syracuse stand now, sitting at 2-1 and looking at a tough stretch ahead? As Sean points out, that's kind of an interesting question. But we do know is Syracuse is much better than it showed against Maryland. And that's a good thing, despite what we saw.

Ultimately, it won't get you on GameDay but that's never been an issue around here anyway.