Since Saturday was the last Big East game in Syracuse history, I found myself thinking back to my favorite Big East games over the past three years. This Syracuse team has certainly provided some excitement under Doug Marrone. Let me just jump right into starting with number 5:
5. 11/13/10 Syracuse 13, Rutgers 10
Syracuse didn't dominate the opponent or play a very clean game, but it was the Orange's fourth Big East road victory of the season (most in school history) and its seventh win on the year. Antwon Bailey scored the only SU touchdown midway through the first quarter on a four yard pass from Ryan Nassib. The sensational freshman Ross Krautman made two field goals, including the game winner late in the fourth to seal the victory. The win marked the first time the Orange beat the Scarlet Knights at home in nine years. This was also the only time Syracuse has beaten the Scarlet Knights in my time here, so it had to make the list.
Check out the final play here:
4. 10/23/10 Syracuse 19, West Virginia 14
Coming off a beating on homecoming to the Pittsburgh Panthers 45-14 the week before, Syracuse has no chance against 20th ranked West Virginia, right? Wrong. Nassib only threw for 63 yards, but Syracuse still pulled out a victory against a bitter rival on its home field. Prior to this game, the Orange had lost eight consecutive games to the Mountaineers. The stellar Syracuse defense of 2010 sacked Geno Smith five times, and forced him to throw three interceptions. Ross Krautman made four field goals, including three in the second quarter to give Syracuse the lead for good. This one was especially fun to rub into Mountaineer fans' faces.
Check out the banner flip at Varsity:
3. 10/27/12 Syracuse 37, South Florida 36
Syracuse was down 23-3 at halftime. Somehow a calm, cool and collected Ryan Nassib put the Orange in position to score 21 points in the third quarter and 13 points in the fourth quarter to squeak out the one point victory. Syracuse went on the road to play USF after taking care of business against the Connecticut Huskies the prior week and boy did the Orange continue to roll. Jerome Smith had 130 yards on the ground and Marcus Sales had 125 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Nassib had 328 passing yards and four touchdowns, including the game winner to Alec Lemon with three seconds to go in the game. Nassib led the team on an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended in possibly the greatest 1-yard touchdown pass I have ever seen. High fives all around.
Check out fans celebrating in Florida after the win:
2. 11/10/12 Syracuse 45, Louisville 26
Two weeks later, Syracuse hosted Louisville, coming off a loss to Cincinnati the week before. Going into the second quarter, it looked like the game was going to be a shootout ending in Louisville's favor with the score tied at 10, but the Cardinals would only manage three more points before halftime - Syracuse managed three more touchdowns. Louisville running back Senorise Perry went down with an injury, which helped the Orange as it held the Cards to only 48 rushing yards. Nassib had three touchdown passes on only 15 completions and Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley combined for nearly 250 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Offensive coordinator Nate Hackett pulled no punches, as the last Syracuse touchdown went to Lewellyn Coker (the linebacker converted fullback in the tank package) on a short pass out to the flat. With the victory, Ryan Nassib stayed undefeated on Senior Day and Doug Marrone beat Louisville for the first time. And it was Homecoming too. Boom!
Here's a video recap:
1. 10/21/12 Syracuse 49, West Virginia 23
Numero Uno has to go to another beatdown on a ranked opponent. Who better than West Virginia? This time the Mountaineers were ranked 15th in the nation and the game was in the Dome for parents weekend. It was a Friday night thriller in the Carrier Dome, and my brother and I watched Syracuse dominate from the first whistle. Syracuse finished the game without having a single negative yardage play. Nassib had five total touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing), three of them going to tight end Nick Provo. Antwon Bailey had 125 yards rushing and a touchdown as well. The Orange even returned a kick for a touchdown in the second quarter. West Virginia QB Geno Smith threw two picks and was sacked four times.
This game made it two straight over the Mountaineers and a few days later, it was rumored that West Virginia would be leaving for the Big 12. That meant this was the last Big East game between the teams and Syracuse sent the Mountaineers home with a statement victory and the Schwartzwalder trophy. The series now stands at 32-27 Syracuse.
Hopefully the ACC brings just as much excitement in the near future.