Admit it, the LSU game had you fooled, didn't it? Yeah, it fooled me too.
For two weeks, we thought this might be it. Finally, Syracuse Orange football was on the uninterrupted road back to being a solid program. The kind of program that doesn't want for bowl games, it wonders which bowl game it'll play in. It doesn't dream of conference titles, it challenges for them all the time. It has an unflappable quarterback who will never ever let us down no not ever never nope never. The kind of team that goes on the road against an inferior opponent and takes care of business.
Now, I'm the first person to tell you that you shouldn't read too much into one game. I didn't think you should suddenly expect Syracuse to run the table following their good effort against the Fightin' Fournettes and I don't think you should automatically assume they're going to lose out after the South Florida Bulls exposed them.
However, it's pretty clear that the road back to respectability is not as clear as many of us assumed it might be.
Blame our lack of patience. We've been waiting for Syracuse to get back to being a consistent winner for about 15 years now. Since the days of Donovan McNabb, every SU football season has been a crapshoot, more or less. Every time we think the team is going to put the pieces together, something seems to get in the way and we have to start over again. There's only so many decades you can put up with that before you run out of stoicism.
That bring us back to October 2015. I'd say most Syracuse fans expected to be 4-1 at this point, or at least thought it was possible. It sure seemed like a foregone conclusion two weeks ago. It was less a question of whether or not we'd start 4-1 and more a question of whether or not we'd start 6-1.
Now you can't tell me with a straight face that 3-4 isn't possible. And that's before we play No. 8 Florida State (5-0), No. 5 Clemson (5-0), at Louisville (2-3) and at NC State (4-2).
Oh come on, Virginia only has one win this year. We'll beat them.
Pretty sure that's what we all said this week. And the Cavs are ten times more battle-tested than the Bulls.
Sure, Virginia and Boston College look very beatable, but I don't trust Syracuse on the road against anyone right now and the BC game usually exists outside the realm of expectations. Syracuse can hang with Pitt and NC State but then again both teams could easily beat the Orange as well. Louisville's having a down year but they're starting to turn it around and they'll be at home. As for Florida State and Clemson, well...
This is gonna sound crazy but I think playing LSU well has the potential to be one of the worst things that happens to us this season. Whatever short-term gains we felt have been wiped out with the terrible showing in Tampa. It raised our hopes up artificially when in fact Syracuse may have simply played up to it's opponent at home and caught LSU on an off-day. The nation has certainly already forgotten about it. And a close loss to LSU isn't going to matter much if Syracuse finishes 4-8 or 5-7. We won't get a courtesy invite to a bowl game because of it.
I hate to be that guy (actually I don't) but as we sit here at 3-2, it's hard not say that Syracuse would have been better served playing an easy opponent two weeks ago and getting to 4-0 instead of playing the Tigers. Because as we look ahead, it looks a whole lot easier to ask Syracuse to win two more games than it does three.
But that's not how Syracuse does things. That would have been too easy.