What is going on here? The Syracuse playbook is a Nintendo 64 game and Coach Marrone hasn't defeated Louisville or UConn in the last two seasons.
After this weekend's torture, Syracuse fans are assuredly thinking that the game against West Virginia was a fluke and that this team may be one of the worst five win teams in the nation.
What is so disheartening is the hype and enthusiasm that surrounded this team two weeks ago. After the West Virginia win, even yours truly had bought tickets for the Orange Bowl.
One thing at a time. Looking back on the past two losses, the Orange have issues in every fact of their game.
The offense is out of sync and cannot sustain any meaningful drive. This is partially due to the offense's lack of execution, but the offensive strategy has to be called into question. Nate Hackett's play-calling has to be criticized as UConn shut down the Orange offense by simply knowing what was coming off of the pre-snap read.
The defense has been suspect all season, but they have been able to force turnovers and give the offense a chance to score. These past two weeks, they have looked atrocious against the run. In fact, Syracuse should just step to the side and allow USF to run it up the middle until Phillip Thomas or Sharmarko Thomas makes the touchdown-saving tackle.
Anyhow, this brings to mind Denny Green and we must ask, is Syracuse really the West Virginia world beaters or the basement dwellers of the Big East?
In reality, "They are who we thought they were!"
Going into the season, the reasonable expectation for this team (via SB Nation) was a bowl for top half Big East teams at best, at worst the Beef O' Brady bowl. After Syracuse struggled against Wake Forrest, Rhode Island, Toledo and Tulane, the thoughts dramatically shifted to "luckiest" or "worst" four-win team in the FBS.
West Virginia clouded the logic that every fan should have seen with this team at that point in the season: Syracuse is just not as good as last season (via SB Nation).
The offense is talented but relying on unproven players to help Ryan Nassib make plays. The defense has the potential to be really good—next year. Special teams units for rebuilding programs are always hit or miss, and this season the Orange just miss.
This team, on balance, is young and needs mentoring and development. The talent just simply isn't there for the Orange to dominate Big East opponents.
Can the Orange make it to the Pinstripe Bowl? Yes. They have the potential to play like they did against West Virginia every week and win, even if USF, Cincy and Pitt all play their best football.
Could the Orange miss a bowl game? Yes. USF has talent, Cincinnati is playing amazing football and Pitt is a tough team to beat at home.
All that matters for the Orange is to not overlook USF and realize that this week's homecoming game may very well define how this team is remembered at the end of the season.