By Savie Maneen
It's now one week until SU begins the second half of its season against #13 West Virginia.
Today we take another look at a reason for Orange fans to be excited about the second half of the year, and another reason fans should be concerned.
Reason for Excitement
3) This team is still 4-2.
Has the Orange played its football? No. Have it caught some huge breaks? Yes. Is this a flawless team? No. Has it been unlucky with some injuries? Yes.
Somehow, though, Syracuse is 4-2. They’ve won in overtime. They’ve won on the road. They’ve won despite not playing a complete game of football. I know it’s a cliché, but this team finds ways to win. The fact of the matter is they’ve still won twice as much as they’ve lost, and they’re two-thirds of a way to bowl eligibility. As mentioned before, no one in the Big East is invincible. It’s still VERY possible that this young and beat-up squad finishes with a .500 or better record and another bowl invite.
As rocky as things have been at times this season (and for much of the past decade), who wouldn’t appreciate that?
Cause for Concern
3) SU has been really, really lucky with some breaks this season.
The Orange came out listless on offense in its first game against Wake Forest, and trailed by 13 at the half. The deficit was 15 in the fourth quarter when Demon Deacons star QB Tanner Price left the game with an injury and didn’t. Who knows if SU’s furious rally still happens had he remained in the game?
Against Toledo, the Orange again had to rally late. They got a monumental lift when referees incorrectly awarded SU an extra point, that kicker Ross Krautman clearly missed. Even after video review, officials still counted Krautman’s PAT. The Big East later admitted it was a blown call. Toledo asked for the win to be vacated. The story gained national buzz. In the end, SU still got the win, but also got a huge break. (Additionally, this game featured a Rockets kick return TD called back for a somewhat questionable block-in-the-back penalty).
Against Rutgers, Syracuse racked up just 295 yards of total offense, completed less than 50% of its passes, committed seven penalties for 80 yards, and turned it over five times (including a pick at the goal line in regulation and the game-ending fumble in double OT). SU also had an extra point blocked, shanked another field goal, and had a field goal blocked and recovered in Orange territory to set up the game-tying touchdown. QB Ryan Nassib also threw an interception with under a minute to play, allowing Rutgers to set up a game-winning field goal (which missed) as regulation expired.
Despite all that – and despite the Scarlet Knights outgaining the Orange and dominating time of possession – SU was still in a position to win. Rutgers turned it over four times (including a fumble that led to a long defensive TD), committed 13 penalties, switched QB’s midway through the second half, and missed three FG’s (including that game-winner at the buzzer). If one of those kicks stays true, or Gary Nova starts under center, who knows if SU would have ever had a chance.
And lastly, SU blew two different 17 point leads at Tulane and was completely lifeless on offense in the second half. However, with under three minutes to play and facing third down at midfield, SU got bailed out again.
Ryan Nassib floated a beautiful sideline fade over the coverage to Van Chew … only to see the pass hit Chew’s chest and fall to the ground. But referees threw a flag for a late hit to the head on Nassib, resulting in 15 yards and an automatic SU first down. The Orange eventually kicked the game-winning field goal as the clock ran out. Had that flag not been thrown, though, who knows if the Green Wave comeback didn’t continue?