It wasn’t the prettiest game of the year, but Syracuse’s regular season & run in the Big East Conference is officially over on a good note. The Orange are going bowling (but we already knew that) on the heels of a 38-20 win at Temple, bringing their record to 7-5 on the year and officially kicking off the chatter about who our next opponent will be.
After some early miscues with two fumbles ending promising drives, the Orange finally got out of their own way by scoring on 3 of their last 4 possessions of the first half. The 2nd half was a lesson in smash mouth football. Syracuse just began to out-muscle Temple mid-way through the 3rd quarter, and carried that over into the rest of the game. The trio of Prince-Tyson Gulley, Adonis Ameen-Moore, and Jerome Smith were outstanding, rushing for 234 yards (!) and 3 touchdowns between them.
The Orange clearly displayed that Temple didn’t have the guns to stick with them, seemingly swatting them away like a fly after the inspired 10-0 start to the game. Even Cuse’s 10 penalties for nearly 100 yards didn’t matter (gotta clean that up moving forward though). After Temple took a 20-17 lead off a nice drive with just under 9 left in the 3rd quarter, Syracuse didn’t let them threaten again. I LOVED the call by the Orange on the next possession to go for it on 4th down inside their own 10 yard line. Just as he’s done all season, Jerome Smith barreled forward to get the first down, leading to the Syracuse go-ahead touchdown. They never looked back from there.
The huge sack off a safety blitz by Durell Eskridge with 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter effectively put the nail in the coffin on the Owls. Well, so did Keon Lyn’s two interceptions and touchdown, but you catch my drift. While the defense didn’t play amazing, they definitely kept the Owls in check for most of the game, considering 10 of the 20 points came in the first quarter. You want your defense getting better as the game goes on, and Syracuse’s definitely did that.
Ryan Nassib was an efficient 17-28 with 215 yards and a touchdown, which was a nice homecoming for him. He didn’t need to do much else since Syracuse decided to pound the ball by running 49 times. As we come to the end of the season, I realize how much I’m truly going to miss having Nassib as our quarterback next year. I think we sometimes take for granted how great it is to have a competent quarterback, and Nassib was far better than that. Obviously a bowl win would truly hammer this home, but Ryan was really one of the best quarterbacks we’ve ever had on the hill. He’s gotten better every single season he started, and I really hope he can go out on a high note for with his second bowl victory.
Syracuse finishes their final Big East campaign with a 5-2 record, which should be good enough to finish 3rd in the conference. Is a second trip to the Pinstripe Bowl looming for the Orange? We’ll have to wait and see the official matchups, but I think HC Doug Marrone and the team finished the year with some great momentum the last three games. Here’s to successful end to Thanksgiving week and the season, and hopefully our second bowl win in 3 years coming in a month!