Isaiah Pead and Antwon Bailey both had career days in the Carrier Dome in the Syracuse 30-13 loss to Cincinnati, but it was ultimately Pead whose contributions led to a win. Pead finished the afternoon with 80 yards rushing and another 112 yards receiving.
Pead had both of the back-breaking plays that doomed the Orange after their defense had started the game by holding the Bearcats to field goals in the red zone.
In the third quarter, Pead ran right up the middle of the Syracuse defense 24 yards for a score to respond to an Orange touchdown. Later in the fourth, Pead made the most of the open field on a 69-yard touchdown reception to make the score 30-13.
Not to be forgotten were Antwon Bailey's contributions to the Orange. Although the Orange lost by 17, Antwon Bailey did all he could to keep the score close. Bailey fought hard on 27 carries for 135 yards, many of those after contact.
Bailey also added another 43 yards receiving to be the only real piece of the Orange offense that showed consistency.
Ryan Nassib struggled to find receivers, who were open. Often when there was an open look Nassib missed the read. Nick Provo scored the lone Orange touchdown, but he had a rough day trying to make plays.
The defense did miss suspended safety Phillip Thomas, but the issue for the Orange was effectively slowing down the Bearcats on third down. The Orange could not get off the field on defense early and could not stay on with the offense (4-for-15 on third down conversions themselves).
Overall,Syracuse simply was not good enough to win. While the talent and potential may be there, the Orange have not shown it over the last four weeks. They came out flat once again on offense and the defense eventually cracked under the pressure of having to shut out the high-powered Cincinnati offense.
The Orange need a win this week against Pittsburgh to be bowl-eligible, but the general consensus among Orange fans is that even if this were to happen the Orange are not playing at the level necessary to earn a bowl win.
Doug Marrone has won one Big East home game in the last two years. The Orange are a rebuilding program that needs to infuse talent if it is going to compete.
Games like this show that Syracuse simply does not have the talent at this point.