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Syracuse Football: Orange Face Long, Nerve-Racking, Big East Road

-- Visit SB Nation's Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician for everything Syracuse Orange.

Is the adrenaline still flowing? Are you finally excited about the Syracuse University football program, which Friday night routed nationally-ranked West Virginia University, 49-23, in a Big East Conference game at the Carrier Dome that was packed with 45,265 screaming fans? Or, was a win over the then No. 15-ranked program in the Bowl Champion Series rankings, WVU is now No. 25, just a nice spirit lifter before the men's basketball season tips off Nov. 12? 

Did the Orange drubbing of the Mountaineers, which helped SU earn votes in both the AP Poll and USA Today/Coaches Poll Sunday, create enough buzz for you to hold off on those courtside seats? -- "It's BCS bowl or bust!" Or, will another bowl berth be just fine with you? The Orange just need one more victory to become bowl eligible for the second straight season.

These are some of many questions that should be running through fans' minds Monday morning after a thrilling weekend that didn't get overshadowed by a Buffalo Bills victory or new men's basketball recruiting news. This weekend, in Central New York, it was all about the SU football program.

"Chandler Jones is a monster!"

"I bet, Dorian Graham could beat Flash in a race."

"Ryan Nassib is the quarterback that can lead us to the promise land!"

"Did Nick Provo vault himself into the first round of the NFL Draft?"

"Oliver Luck is an idiot!"


These are probably one of the few statements or chants that were being made during the last two days. Some statements were right on (Luck needs to stop talking), others a little ridiculous (Flash is quick, but not as speedy as Graham), but all were about SU football. What Orange nation witnessed Friday was special. Who could have predicted a victory were SU played such a complete game in all phases? -- offense, defense and special teams.

Before the game, most thought if Syracuse was going to win, it was going to be one of those ugly, low-scoring Big East messes that ended on WVU junior quarterback Geno Smith tripping over himself in the end zone and the Orange winning 2-0 because of a safety.

Instead, Syracuse scored the most points against WVU ever, breaking a 51-year-old record. The Orange's 49 points was the largest total since a triple-overtime victory over the University of North Carolina in 2003 -- yes, it took eight years and three more possessions to reach that mark. On defense, it was a complete effort that featured four sacks, two interceptions and allowing only 23 points to a program that scored 40.8 per game heading into the contest. Meanwhile, the special teams helped Graham produce a 98-yard touchdown.

But, my message this Monday morning isn't one to hype up the rest of the SU football season. Instead, it's one of caution with a hint of excitement.

Yes, Friday night's victory was awesome for a lot of you. And, it put Syracuse football back in the national spotlight for the first time in about 10 months -- remember the Pinstripe Bowl? It also put the Orange in the driver's seat for the conference BCS bowl berth, which now they have a very good chance of winning (if SU keeps winning). But, the Orange play in the Big East, a football league that easily is the most unpredictable in all of the country.

In just about a dozen conference games: the University of Pittsburgh beat the University of South Florida, Sept. 29; Rutgers University edged Syracuse, Oct. 1; Rutgers throttled Pitt, Oct. 8; UConn "upset" USF, Oct. 15; the University of Louisville downed Rutgers, Friday night, while SU routed WVU. On Saturday, USF was just 12 seconds away from defeating the University of Cincinnati and making all eight Big East schools suffer at least one loss just two weeks into the league schedule -- yeah, that almost happened.

So far, almost half of the league games have ended with unpredictable results. And, if the Mountaineers, who were easily dubbed the best program in the conference, can't dodge an upset bug just two weeks into the conference schedule, you think the Orange have a shot at not losing one or two more contests?

"We’re sitting here at 5-2, and we have a long way to go. Let’s not confuse this issue," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone after Friday night's victory.

If anyone had a chance to watch the Cardinals victory over the Scarlet Knights Friday night, they saw a defense that is good and can stop the Orange offense, which will be playing on the road. A week later, the Syracuse schedule features the Orange playing at UConn, which has already pulled off a home upset this season.

Right now, the Orange are not good enough to not only take a victory for granted -- something coach Marrone has said many times this year -- or overlook any program in the Big East. Coach Marrone knows this, the players know this, so don't jump the BCS gun because this ride not only just got very interesting, it got extremely unpredictable.

Two weeks from now the Orange could be 7-2 overall, 3-1 in the Big East, but just as easily they maybe 5-4 and 1-4.

My advice: keep talking about Friday night to get people excited about Orange football and hopefully get them to buy tickets to fill the Dome, Nov. 11, against visiting USF, invest heavily in antacids (because your stomach is going to be a mess in the next five weeks) and stay guarded (because this is the Big East and anything can happen, even when, you think it can't.)

All season long, SB Nation New York has been blogging live from press row at the Carrier Dome. During games follow along on Twitter at SBNationNY or Jared_E_Smith.