While for the second straight week Syracuse was absent from the BCS discussion, they are starting to make some noise.
The Orange received 57 votes in the Harris poll and 10 in the coaches poll, both used in the BCS equation. Furthermore, Syracuse received 40 votes in the AP poll, setting the Orange up to make a top 25 appearance with wins over the next two weeks.
With WVU being the only ranked Big East team, it will be interesting to see where Syracuse, Rutgers and WVU fall in relation to each other, especially after this weekend’s game between the Scarlet Knights and Mountaineers.
Most importantly, with that upset win over West Virginia, Syracuse’s bowl outlook becomes much more optimistic.
The best-case scenario for the Orange now looks much more obtainable. With Rutgers falling to Louisville and USF falling to Cincinnati, Syracuse now sits tied for 3rd place in the Big East standings. However, to use a phrase from former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, the Orange are in control of their own destiny.
If the Orange win out for the rest of the season, they will finish second in the Big East. If Rutgers loses one more game (they face WVU this week in New Jersey) then the Orange can run the table and take the Big East.
Why is this suddenly so attractive?
UConn looks absolutely horrible this season and their only Big East win came over a USF team that is falling apart at the seams. Louisville was thrown into that horrible group before this past week, but a win against Rutgers should motivate the Orange to work hard in practice this week. Pitt and Cincinnati are both legitimate contenders as well, but they both utilize the spread offense West Virginia has perfected and sputtered against the Orange. Furthermore, Cincinnati and USF come to the Dome to play their games.
That means that the only foreseeable obstacle for a Syracuse BCS bowl birth is Pitt in the last game of the year, pending they don’t lose to either the Bearcats or Mountaineers. The reason this seems so likely is because Syracuse brought out all of their potential on Friday.
The secondary is good enough as a unit to shut down anyone thanks to great safety play with Shamarko and Phillip Thomas, the defensive line under Chandler Jones can dominate, and Ryan Nassib and Antwon Bailey lead a balanced offensive attack that methodically moves on anyone.
Ultimately, if the Big East continues as is, Syracuse can run the table all the way until Pitt, who I could see upsetting the Orange in the season finale in Pittsburgh. Even then, West Virginia should be able to win the Backyard Brawl in Morgantown. Even if Pitt also runs the table, the Orange should still finish second or third in the Big East, earning a spot to the Camps Sports bowl or Belk Bowl.
The wild card will be Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish get an invite to the Champs Sports bowl pending a 7 win season, though that is looking dubious with games against Stanford, Wake Forrest, and yearly upset Navy still to come. Even then, the Orange’s resume will be much more impressive for either bowl and should create the better matchup, regardless of how well Notre Dame fans travel.
So yes Orange fans, get the sun tan lotion out, there’s going to be a winter break trip down to Florida.