|I can guarantee you Oliver Luck wasn't smiling Friday night. There's always been Navy and Air Force Ollie.|
Coming into the game West Virginia was the class of the Big East. They are still the soon to be dead conference's only ranked team -- and Syracuse took them apart. It was the most raucous I've seen the dome in years, and it felt great. Let's do some quick observations.
What We Thought: West Virginia was a better team and there was no way SU could keep it close.
What We Know: If you give Doug Marrone two weeks to prepare, you are probably going to lose. Marrone is 3-0 in games after bye weeks, including wins against USF and WVU. The odds makers missed the point spread by 40.
What We Thought: The offensive line, while experienced, hadn't lived up to expectations.
What We Know: The entire offensive line played spectacularly. Ryan Nassib had a clean, clean pocket all game line. In the run game they battered the 3-3-5 Mountaineer set and Antwon Bailey, Jerome Smith and Adonis Ameen-Moore took advantage.
What We Thought: Ryan Nassib, after a quick start, was in a little bit of a funk.
What We Know: He could start his own band - Funk No More (sorry, that was a terrible joke). Nassib played a brilliant game, accounting for 5 tds (4 passing, 1 running). He was especially sharp on 3rd down. When you convert 12-17 third downs, you will win games.
What We Thought: The defense struggles to stop anyone.
What We Know: Chandler Jones returned, the defense was more healthy than it had been all year and holy hell, what a performance by that unit, and Jones in particular.. He was a beast and dominated from start to finish. If he can stay healthy he will be the best defensive lineman to wear Orange since Dwight Freeney. The rest of the unit rose to the occasion. Geno Smith and the Mountaineers accumulated yards, but not enough points -- and SU forced a couple of key turnovers.
What We Thought: Dorian Graham is getting better.
What We Know: Dorian Graham is getting better. A lot better. He made a couple of great grabs and to extend drives and he could the be X-factor the offense needs to stretch the field. You always hear how he's the fastest guy on the team and he really showed it on the kick off return for a touchdown when he was even with a defender and then turned on the jets and ran away from him.
What We Thought: Syracuse fans are terrible.
What We Know: We aren't so terrible anymore. Maybe it was the Friday night start or people used the bye week to re-charge their batteries, but I was pleasantly surprised to walk into the building before kickoff and see it more full than it had been in years. Once the Orange got rolling, so did the fans. When the Dome is close to full and the fans are into the game it is a very, very hard place to play. I was getting flashbacks to the McNabb years, It's an awesome advantage to have and I'm glad it's coming back.
Here's a shaky video I shot with my Droid of the crowd. It hasn't been that electric in the building in a long time.
What We Thought: Most people wouldn't notice or talk about this game after it was over.
What We Know: This win was big enough for to get my 90 year old grandmother's attention. On Sunday we celebrated by beloved grandmother's 90th birthday. She's a remarkable woman. She's kind, intelligent, loving and raised 5 kids under less than ideal circumstances. The whole family is blessed to have her. She is also a big SU fan and used to gently chastise me for being so mean to Greg Robinson....until he got fired and made the dumb little engine that could speech. After she heard that, she conceded I was right and Greg was in fact a dope. She liked him because he seemed like a nice man.
However, he main interest is in the basketball program. She's never been much for football so when I walked in the restaurant and sat down next her, the first thing she said to me was "Andrew, did you see that football game Friday night?" I sure did grandma -- and so did a lot of other people. At 90 she's still as sharp as a tack and her party was lovely bookend to a very good weekend. Here's hoping we've got 5 more of those coming.