Syracuse used a balanced attack both through the air and on the ground in a dominant 40-10 win over the Connecticut Huskies last night in the Carrier Dome.
Quarterback Ryan Nassib threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Alec Lemon had 8 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. Jerome Smith averaged 7 yards a carry for 133 yards on the ground. Everything clicked for the Orange, who improved their record to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big East. Everything clicked for the Orange, who had a big day that consisted of no turnovers for the first time all season.
The defense played great as always, keeping Connecticut in negative yards rushing and forcing eight punts on the day. Huskies quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw the ball 41 times for 296 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a lone bright spot for UConn. Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni credited the run defense, and wished his team could have made more moves on the ground:
“SU’s run defense was very good today and compounded by the fact that once we got down by the other two scores, we started throwing the ball; we felt like we had to throw the ball. We talked about it before we made the decision to do it and we just felt we had to do it. I wish we could’ve challenged the run defense a little today.”
This game was an absolutely critical win for the Orange, and an absolutely devastating loss for the Huskies. With the win, Syracuse keeps its bowl hopes alive and get one game closer to a .500 record. For Connecticut, the loss puts them at 0-3 in the conference, and their five losses on the season requires them to go 3-1 down the stretch with two games against top 25 teams.
For Syracuse, the win is huge in their push for a bowl game. The Orange absolutely need to win next week at South Florida, with back to back match ups against Cincinnati and Louisville to follow their trip to Tampa. The Orange need to win three more games to become bowl eligible, and this game was big in their mission to get there. Doug Marrone said that he was proud of the way his team played given the enormous pressure to win this game:
“It was a big game. You are fighting. The kids did a good job during the week. Whether you’re pressing or whatever you want to say. Let’s call it like it is. We were 2-4 and that’s not good enough. The pressure is turned up. You have to try and brush it off. You have to go out and fight. You go out there and you have to win a game. The kids did a good job and they won. That doesn’t take the pressure off. If anything it shows, let’s take this next step. I think that’s what we will be working on, in the same sense this can’t be a comfort zone. There are still a lot of mistakes out there that needs to be corrected.”
Paul Pasqualoni’s return to Syracuse was anything but gleeful for him, where he saw his team have a -2 turnover margin for the game. On his return to the Dome, Pasqualoni spoke about his love for Syracuse fans but that was overshadowed with his disappointment in his team:
“The people were great, the people were awfully nice. We just felt we could’ve done a lot better tonight. We’ve played a lot of years of football and it was good to be here tonight. The Dome is a good venue, a great place to play.”
The Orange next play a night game Saturday against South Florida down in Tampa at 7:00.