It has been well established that the Syracuse football team struggles on the road. The Orange are 1-3 (1-4 if you consider the USC game a road game and I wouldn’t hold it against you) away from the Carrier Dome, with their lone road win coming in a massive comeback effort against South Florida. This is a reversal from the 2010 team, who beat Colgate and Maine before losing out for the rest of their home schedule en route to the Pinstripe Bowl. 2011 is where the road troubles began with just 1 away win, and have carried over in to this season.
You don’t need me to tell you that if Syracuse is going to make a bowl, a road win has to happen. Many fans are pointing at the Temple game as the game that Syracuse becomes eligible for post-season play, but I believe that they are more than capable of getting that done tomorrow night in Columbia. This will without a doubt be the most hostile crowd Syracuse has faced all season by a long shot. It is a night game during prime time, and it could make or break the Tigers’ season. A loss for Mizzou means they have to head to Texas A&M on the final week of the season needing to win. Fans recognize this, and that place will be absolutely rocking.
The biggest thing that Syracuse needs to avoid in such an environment is mistakes. Syracuse has 39 penalties for 316 yards in 4 road games this season. This number is absolutely astounding to Syracuse fans, and it needs to change in order for Syracuse to win this game tomorrow. This will be difficult with more noise than the Orange have faced from a crowd all season, but the Orange are going to have to figure out a way to limit their penalties. Field position will be huge in this game, and that is directly affected through penalties.
Another key for Syracuse overcoming their road woes is to jump out to an early lead. Every single road game Syracuse gave up the first points of the game, and in some instances they would find themselves down a touchdown or greater at halftime. When you are against the ropes on the road, fans definitely smell blood in the water and get even rowdier than they already are. If Syracuse can come out hot early and jump on a lead, they are able to dictate the game and it’s tempo, and have a lot more options on what they can do. Tough SEC losses or not, Missouri fans have to have some shadow of doubt in their team with the wins they have. If the Tigers should fall in to an early hole against Syracuse, the crowd can be silenced just as easily as it can erupt.
Syracuse is more than capable of doing both these things tomorrow. Missouri is a tough team at home, but they are absolutely beatable. I believe that people are selling the Orange short based solely off of the fact that a Big East team is playing an SEC team, and I think that although it will be a tough game for the Orange, it is a game that wouldn’t surprise me if it went in the away team’s favor. Road struggles or not, Syracuse has proven they can play with anybody and I look for that to be the case again tomorrow.
Check back tomorrow for our preview of the Syracus-Missouri game.