All Syracuse Orange Football fans should carry an EKG and defibrillator with them at all times. All four of Syracuse’s wins have been decided by six points or less and the Orange has an affinity for playing down to their opponents.
Tulane looked like the one team Syracuse could simply roll over and finally dominate. However, in typical Syracuse fashion, the Orange made it interesting.
Quarterback Ryan Nassib played more like Ben Roethlisberger, rather than his usual conservative self, attempting (and most often missing) deep passes and spending a good deal of time on the ground.
Nassib was sacked, rushed, hit and forced to run as the offense struggled to push back the Green Wave front that surprised even themselves with their ability to disrupt the Orange front.
Nassib threw for two early touchdowns to Dorian Graham and rushed for another, as Syracuse looked ready to hang 50 on the heads of a demoralized Tulane defense hindered by short fields thanks to two Green Wave turnovers.
It wasn’t long though until the Syracuse defense began to show cracks in the armor that had kept the Orange competitive in the Rutgers game. Cornerback Kevyn Scott was completely turned and burned by Tulane's Xavier Rush and suddenly Tulane was alive and ready to play.
As Tulane gained momentum, Syracuse’s run defense, usually the one consistent unit thus far, began to look downright soft as Tulane opened wide lanes that led to 116 yards rushing; not like Tulane needed to run the ball.
Green Wave QB Ryan Griffin threw for 320 yards and at one point had 13 straight completions as Tulane stormed back to tie the game with at 34.
On the final drive, after what looked to be what would be another failed second half drive for Syracuse, Nassib drew a roughing the passer call and kept the Orange hopes alive. Nassib and Coach Marrone then went back to the formula that had worked all day: screens and runs by running back Antwon Bailey to move Syracuse down the field.
Syracuse would finish the day with 170 yards rushing, with 111 attributed to Bailey, who was able to shake off tacklers all day and gain 145 tough, all-purpose yards. All of this led to another Ross Krautman field goal to send Syracuse home a winner.
Was this a great game played by the Orange? No. In fact, it left the team and fans with more questions that will be addressed by many, including myself, with the West Virginia Mountaineers looming in 13 days.
The magic picked back up, but this was a game where Syracuse legitimately could have covered the spread and be come home from New Orleans rowdy and excited, rather than subdued and pensive.