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Syracuse football: shorthanded Orange survive late scares in challenging victory over Purdue

For being so banged up early, 'Cuse is in good shape where it counts the most.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Syracuse Orange fans can breathe a little easier following another thrilling back-and-forth battle with Purdue. The 35-20 win moves SU to 3-0 on the 2023 season and halfway to bowl eligibility.

'Cuse did a lot of things right, but what was just as impressive is how the team rebounded after key moments where they messed up.

Right from the start, it seemed that luck wasn't on SU's side. First was the dreaded "false start" penalty from the offensive line, then soon after came a shanked punt that set the Boilermakers up near midfield. Not ideal, right?

Well, the Mob picked up the slack and kept the Boilermakers just outside a goal-to-go scenario on a 4th and short. A gutsy decision to go for it by Ryan Walters paid off... for the persistent Orange defense, that is.

Leon Lowery fell right on top of a Hudson Card fumble for the first of four turnovers (nearly five, but we'll get to that). It was the first instance of an immediate response to adversity early this season, and it repeated throughout the night.

That was also one of three turnovers which directly translated into Orange points on the board. Players from the d-line to the linebackers and secondary all did their jobs to keep Card and the Boilermakers in check in front of a sea of black.

Garrett Shrader also answered the call, setting a program record with four rushing touchdowns, including the final one to ice the game late in the 4th quarter. While Purdue’s strength was supposed to be in their run defense, carefully calculated designed QB draws kept them on their toes all night, and while his wideouts were not the most consistent with catching the ball, their downfield blocking did not go unnoticed.

Before Shrader could finish things, the Mob had to make one final stand after Purdue ended up retaining possession of a fumble. Even with the unfavorable call, they once again forced a turnover on downs, getting the offense back out for their insurance drive.

Looking at the bigger picture: there are plenty of opportunities to get another three wins and earn a 13th game. It starts with Army this upcoming week, whose transition to the shotgun hasn't exactly been seamless.

As for the ACC: VT and GT are, as expected, at the bottom of the conference. Boston College is down there as well, and although they played well against Florida State, it could easily have been a mirage. Even Pitt is looking quite Pittiful, with QB Phil Jurkovec already on the verge of being run out of town.

Wins may count the same in the final standings, but the steps taken to get this particular one show the potential this Orange team can still reach in spite of added difficulties.