By Savie Maneen
Reason to Get Excited
6) Marrone is typically good with extra time to prepare
As mentioned earlier, Friday’s game with #11 West Virginia will be exceptionally tough. Head coach Doug Marrone says this is probably the toughest opponent SU’s faced since he arrived as coach. Fortunately for Orange fans, Syracuse enters the game coming off a bye, and coach has a pretty good track record when given extra time to prepare.
In his two-and-a-half seasons as SU head coach, Marrone is 5-1 when given extra time to prep for a game (that means season-openers, coming of a bye week, and the Pinstripe Bowl). That lone loss came in his head coaching debut against Minnesota – a game the Orange lost in overtime, with a QB who hadn’t played ball since high school.
A year ago, Syracuse limped to the end of the regular season, posting a 1-3 record, while averaging just 11.5 points per game. After a few weeks to prepare for the Pinstripe Bowl, Doug Marrone’s Orange put up 34 points and 498 yards of offense against Kansas State.
Friday night against WVU, Marrone and his staff will have their healthiest team of the year, and will have had 13 days to digest the first half of the season and make adjustments. History tells us fans should see a spark in the Orange.
Cause for Concern
6) The second half of the season is tough
Syracuse needs two more wins to become bowl-eligible. We’ve already addressed the problems #11 West Virginia will pose on Friday. After that, SU faces probably the two weakest teams left on its schedule – Louisville and UConn. Both those games are on the road though, and both those teams beat SU in 2010.
The Orange is then home for USF and Cincinnati – two teams it beat in 2010. But like WVU, the Bulls and Bearcats aren’t going to look past Syracuse this time around. And Cincy was without star QB Zach Collaros in last year’s game. This year he’s healthy and has the Bearcats sitting at 5-1. The last time he was in the Carrier Dome he threw for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns.
USF won at Notre Dame in the first week of the season, and eventually rose to #18 in the polls. They’ve now lost two straight, but still feature loads of talent on the roster.
Lastly, SU closes out the year in Pittsburgh. While the Panthers have lost four of five, they’ve still beaten the Orange six years running, and have outscored Syracuse by almost 100 points in those games.
The point is, just because SU is 4-2, one can’t simply assume any wins in the remaining six contests.