Monday, October 18, 2010

Pittsburgh Outclasses Syracuse, Defeats Orangemen 45-14


In front of 40,168 orange-clad Syracuse fans, the Syracuse Orangemen were absolutely dominated in every facet of the game by the Pittsburgh Panthers. There were very few bright spots on this Saturday afternoon, and the loss dropped Syracuse from first place in the Big East back down into reality. Syracuse is now 4-2 on the year, 1-1 in the Big East.

Clearly, Syracuse was not ready to take the next step against Pittsburgh on this Saturday afternoon. After the Orangemen went three and out to open the game, the Panthers scored on their very first play from scrimmage, a 79 yard touchdown pass from Tino Sunseri to Devin Street. Just like that all the excitement and momentum the cuse had been gaining over the first six weeks of the college football season were seemingly zapped from the Dome in that instant.

Syracuse would respond with a touchdown drive of their own to tie the score at 7-7. Alec Lemon caught a 41 yard pass from Ryan Nassib to bring the Orangemen down to the Pittsburgh 13 yard line. From there Delone Carter banged into the Pittsburgh end zone to tie the game. Syracuse's timely response gave Orange fans everywhere a reason to believe again, although it would be short lived.

After Syracuse and Pittsburgh exchanged three and out drives, Syracuse was held to a punt again by the Panther's defense. This time the punt coverage unit for the cuse couldn't answer the call. Pitt ran the ball down to the Syracuse 20 yard line on the return and a 14 yard touchdown pass from Sunseri to Ray Graham with under a minute left in the 1st quarter would give Pittsburgh the lead for good. The game would never be in doubt again.

The Panthers would score three more touchdowns before Syracuse got on the board again in the 4th quarter. The Orangemen had chances to get back into the game, but every time the cuse crossed into Pitt territory, there was a fumble or an interception waiting for them on the other side. In total, Syracuse turned the ball over four times, compared to zero for Pitt.

Ryan Nassib had one of his worst days of the season on Saturday, and he was not alone. Nassib finished the afternoon with 25 of 46 completions, 231 yards 1TD and 2INTs. One of the interceptions opened the 2nd half scoring for Pitt when it was returned 80 yards by Ricky Gary for a Pittsburgh touchdown. Additionally, Delone Carter rushed for just 38 yards on 13 carries and 1TD. Bailey added 25 yards on 7 attempts with 13 receiving yards on 3 catches. Syracuse's dynamic running back duo was completely shut down.

With the lack of a running game, and Ryan Nassib having one of his worst showings of his young career, Syracuse's defense was forced onto the field with very little time on the sidelines. The Orangemen were just 4 of 13 on 3rd down attempts. Syracuse was out hit, out run, out coached, out everything'd in this game.

Syracuse fans watching the game Saturday were left scratching their heads wondering if SU addressed how to tackle in practice last week. Well fear not cuse fans, because I can assure you that they will certainly be working on tackling much of this week! Pittsburgh knew Syracuse's weakness was in the secondary and they exploited it all afternoon. Sunseri finished the day 17 of 24 passing attempts for 266 yards 4TDs and no picks.

Additionally, Dion Lewis torched Syracuse all afternoon, running for 80 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. After a week of shutting down the South Florida Bulls offense on the road in Tampa, the Syracuse defense was no where to be found in the Dome. Perhaps it was just a let down game after a huge emotional road win.

At the end of the day it is only 1 loss against a team that everyone had high hopes for at the start of the season. Pittsburgh shined on this day while Syracuse reverted back into its former self. Still, Syracuse is only three wins away from clinching a Bowl Game appearance for the first time since 2004, and with six games remaining on the schedule Syracuse fans can still be hopeful that we can get there.

A few game notes now:
  • Michael Hay (#74), who I have been hard on, had one of his best games of the season. The entire offensive line did their best job protecting against the pass rush this year.
  • What are the odds that #85 on both teams is named Cruz?
  • After promoting the Homecoming football game all week (or Orange Central) Syracuse still couldn't manage to sell out the football game. Not sure what its going to take to win back the hearts and minds of the locals.
  • Delone Carter's 1st quarter touchdown gave him 21 for his career. That ties Carter with Malcolm Thomas for 9th on Syracuse's all-time rushing TD list.
  • Doug Hogue had a career high 12 tackles and Derrell Smith tied his career best with 9 solo tackles. Of course this was a result of them being on the field all afternoon.

Syracuse's schedule will not get any easier going forward. From here, the Orangemen will travel to Morgantown to take on #20 West Virginia. The game will be televised on ESPN2 live at 12:00PM.

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