The Syracuse Orange made history on Saturday. The type of history that no fan would like published in the The History Of Syracuse Football textbook.
For the first time in the Big East Conference, a team, the Orange (7-4, 4-3 Big East), won all four of its conference road games but lost all three of its league home games.
SU's 23-6 loss to Connecticut practically eliminated any chance of winning the Big East title and earning its BCS bowl bid to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 in Glendale AZ. -- the miracle scenario in which SU can win the conference isn't worth typing out.
Big East Conference Standings
It's not fun being a fan and watching your team's hopes and dreams slowly slip away. That's what happened Saturday as UConn running back Jordan Todman, second in the nation in yards per game, methodically gashed the Orange defense.
|vs Syracuse / 11.20.10
The Syracuse offense couldn't answer as it failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season.
"The sins were numerous: poorly thrown passes by Nassib, who admitted he didn’t play very well; dropped passes by SU receivers, one bouncing out of the hands of tight end Nick Provo into the hands of UConn defensive end Kendall Reyes to set up a Husky field goal; drive-killing penalties that surfaced seemingly every time the Orange began to find some rhythm," wrote Dave Rahme of the Syracuse Post-Standard on Monday. "The cumulative effect was a season-low 235 yards of offense against a Connecticut team that entered the game ranked last in the Big East in total defense, allowing 364.1 yards per game."
Give credit to UConn's defense for holding stout. They played very well holding the Orange to just two trips into the red zone. But it was a matter of time that the sputtering SU offensive -- which averaged just 11.4 points per game against Big East opponents -- was going to hold the program back from making a historic run. Yes, the SU defense could keep them in games but its offense needed to show up to help the program take another step. It didn't.
"So it’s frustrating," Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said. "Everyone has to remember that it is a young offense."
"There are things we’ve done well that are past a progression of where we should be; and there are things that we haven’t done well that we should be ahead of."
The worst thing for a fan is to watch their team struggle. It's gut wrenching to witness. It's worse when your team is in the game, which SU was after freshman kicker Ross Krautman made 35-yard field goal to cut UConn's lead to 10-6 with just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
"We just need a defensive stop and just ONE good offensive drive," SU enthusiasts were thinking at the time.
Earlier in the season, those drives had come: Tied 10-10 at Rutgers, SU used 11 plays to march 66 yards to set up the game-winning field goal by Krautman; Down 9-6 against South Florida in the fourth quarter, Nassib led a 98-yard TD drive to take a 13-9 lead, which led to a victory and 4-1 start to the season.
The Orange defense did its job, forcing a three-and-out and a punt. Syracuse's offense couldn't take advantage of the momentum.
The next two plays featured running back Delone Carter running for six yards on two carries, then quarterback Ryan Nassib was sacked and stripped of the ball, which was recovered by UConn's Trevardo Williams at the SU four-yard line.
One play later from the two-yard line, Todman helped increase the Huskies lead to 17-7 by scoring his second rushing TD of the day.
Game over. BCS bowl dreams over. Hello, NYC.
Not all of it is disappointing. Of course, it would be great if SU could have mustered some sort of offensive cohesiveness in the final two games, which might have led to a share of the league title. That's all grand but not realistic.
Pittsburgh is still a long ways ahead of the Orange when it comes being an all-around program, West Virginia is just more talented and UConn proved on Saturday that they know how to win big games. All of that comes from experience. Currently, the Orange have very little.
The truth is, really good teams don't lose three conference home games. But that's history now. Onto the next chapter in the History of Syracuse Football textbook: "How To Win A Bowl Game".