Part II of Syracuse Orange football versus Purdue Boilermakers: Electric Boogaloo had it all — controversial calls, close moments, an impressive defensive performance, a (very) dark horse Heisman performance from Garrett Shrader and so much more.
Orange fans held their breath right from the start up until basically the very end, but a combination of Shrader’s program-record four rushing touchdowns coupled with a turnover-forcing night from the defense propelled the Orange to a 35-20 road win over the Boilermakers.
And yes, that means Syracuse has now started off 3-0 in back to back years for the first time since 1959 and 1960 (!!!). It couldn’t have come at a better time — primetime on NBC versus Purdue coming off last season’s unforgettable finish.
We’ve got a lot to discuss, so let’s jump right into our three takeaways from Saturday night’s insanity:
The Mob isn’t playing around
The Orange’s game versus Purdue featured a lot of chaos — two incredibly controversial calls on fumbles by the Boilermakers, 230 combined penalties between both teams and a lot of back-and-forth changes in momentum.
But in the end, it’s hard to not be impressed by The Mob’s defensive performance given the stakes of this one. After all, Colgate and Western Michigan was one thing, but playing Purdue in West Lafayette is a completely different beast.
Four forced turnovers on the night — including three recovered fumbles and an interception — gave Syracuse’s offense the cushion it needed to get through some of its second half mistakes.
Marlowe with the pick!— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) September 17, 2023
4th takeaway of the first half. pic.twitter.com/MBMXXcc0zY
Seeing the defense continue to generate turnovers in this type of environment is a great sign to see as Syracuse’s schedule slowly gets more competitive with the looming Clemson/North Carolina/Florida State trio of games on the horizon.
The state of the receivers post-Gadsden
Syracuse fans got the worst news scenario possible right before kickoff with All-American and All-ACC tight end Oronde Gadsden ruled out for the season with a Lisfranc injury he got early during the Western Michigan game.
That begged the question heading into the Purdue game — who would step up among the rest of the Orange’s receiving options.
Saturday night proved that Syracuse does have multiple options to go too. Damien Alford (four catches for 70 yards), LeQuint Allen (six catches for 62 yards) and Donovan Brown (four catches for 52 yards) all stepped up and at least kept Purdue’s coverage honest.
But Coach Dino Babers (finally) unleashing Allen as a receiving option coupled with his running game (17 carries for 80 yards and one touchdown) proves that the anticipated hype around the Orange’s new starting running back is starting to show up in the stat sheet.
Speaking of rushing, Syracuse out-gained Purdue 271-80, a testament on offense to all three of Allen’s capabilities as a runner, Shrader’s scrambling ability and (most notably) the fantastic run blocking by the Orange’s receivers.
Life without Gadsden will be tough, especially because Shrader lost his primary target down the middle of the field. Getting these types of performances on offense across the board in a West Lafayette-like environment at least means there’s still potential for the Orange’s offense to sustain itself.
Shrader marches Syracuse forward
Babers needs every ounce of playmaking Shrader can provide both with his legs and in the air. He set the tone in the first quarter — Syracuse’s first scoring drive saw Shrader account for 85 of the team’s 94 total yards and some Peyton Manning-like trickery near the end zone:
Outside of Shrader’s record rushing touchdown day, 25 carries/scrambles for 198 rushing yards (7.8 yards per run) is insane. But it’s a testament to the importance of a healthy Shrader; his ability to make plays out of the pocket can’t be overstated.
Losing Gadsden absolutely throws a wrench into the Orange’s offense attack. However, keeping Shrader in one piece is a must for Syracuse to have a chance against some of the tougher ACC opponents.
The bottom-line: we’ve got a baseline for the Orange on both sides of the ball and a big-time win on the road. Good night, West Lafayette.
Now it’s your turn: what were your takeaways from Syracuse’s 35-20 primetime win over Purdue?