Welp, after watching a zany ending to the first half, we knew this game was going to have an equally weird conclusion. What we didn't know was how listless the Syracuse Orange defense would appear while giving up a 10-point fourth quarter lead en route to a 44-38 triple overtime loss to the Virginia Cavaliers.
Obviously my first reaction is rage, but we'll try to save that for the upcoming week. For now, let's just focus in on the facts of this game:
Following a nice turnaround at the end of the second quarter, Syracuse had a lead and all the momentum. On the team's single third quarter drive, they capped off seven minutes of offense with a field goal. This would come back to haunt them a little.
The Orange defense started showing cracks in the third quarter, but still held firm going into the fourth. That's when everything went to hell. The screens -- held in check enough over the course of the first three quarters -- were suddenly good for 10-15 yards at a clip. This began to look like the USF game all over again, and unsurprisingly, it would yield the same result.
Syracuse still had a shot to win this game with a little over six minutes left. Despite calling a stripped-down, non-existent offense in the fourth quarter, the Orange still held a three-point lead over Virginia with the Hoos pinned at their own four-yard line thanks to Riley Dixon. And it could've even gone the Orange's way, but on a big third down stop, the team committed a key facemask to extend the drive. Virginia took full advantage, setting up the game-tying field goal as time expired in the fourth.
After two dynamic overtimes that saw quick scores for each team, Syracuse stopped doing what worked and left Dungey exposed to dangerous pressure in the third overtime. The result forced Coley Murphy to try a 48-yard field goal, which he (understandably) missed. From there, Virginia walked themselves into the end zone, largely untouched by a gassed Syracuse defense. Orange lose, 44-38, and with that, the team's ability to make a bowl game is very much in doubt.
Plenty more to say here, and believe me, I could've added much more above. Syracuse showed an ability to adapt at the beginning of this game, showing an ability to stop screens at a decent clip. But the pace of things caught up to them. The stupid errors became too much. And the Hoos just overpowered them to win this game. The offense was cut off at the knees for the second half of regulation too -- don't get me wrong, there's things to say there as well. But the defense, tasked with making stops, simply could not and it cost this team a game they desperately needed to win.
This isn't the end. It's the halfway point. But that second half is an awful lot tougher to navigate than the first. This team will need a WHOLE LOT of help if they want to make the postseason. The future looks bright with talent on offense. But... far too many questions to go completely in on that optimism now (especially given the increasingly burning questions about this coaching staff).
Discuss the game below, and don't kill each other. None of us made this happen. Together, we all wish it didn't. And are equally upset about the outcome.