Football Friday - Connecticut

The Orange (4-7, 1-5 Big East) plays its final game of the 2009 season at Connecticut (5-5, 1-4) on a wet track in an NFL-size stadium before a sold-out crowd. Any chance of victory rests on the SU running game.

Syracuse football comes to a close Saturday afternoon. Halftime Snack ushers out the old and looks ahead to the new.

FINAL ANSWER:  Syracuse graduate student-senior and local boy extraordinaire Greg Paulus will play his final collegiate game in Hartford, Conn. Saturday.  His previous final collegiate game, also in New England, was a basketball game in the NCAA basketball tournament this past March in Boston; Duke fell to Villanova, 77-54. Paulus played just 10 minutes and sank a three-pointer for his only points. The biggest game of Paulus' five-year college career came over two years ago, when the Blue Devils lost in the national championship semifinal against this same Connecticut school. The irony wheel keeps spinning: Duke and Connecticut will play basketball Nov. 27 for the first time since that night in Atlanta, squaring off in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden (Halftime Snack predicts the Huskies will win that game as well).

EMOTION POTION: The Connecticut football team endured a senseless tragedy earlier this season when junior cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed at a campus party. Howard, the 2008 Big East Special Teams Player of the Year, was a stabilizing force in the lives of many: his unborn baby, a large family in Miami, Fla., and his Huskie teammates in Storrs. The UCONN football players plowed during this emotional season, enduring a series of tough losses before finally breaking through last week with a 33-30 double overtime victory at Notre Dame. The team sent the game ball south to Howard’s family.

THAT’S A WRAP: Coach Doug Marrone completes his first season at Syracuse and hopes for a five-win season. Orange fans should have confidence that winning SU football is not far away, but the final ingredient will be talent. All the other intangibles of a strong football program have been put in place: discipline, hard work, responsibility and execution.

Connecticut 24, Syracuse 13 – The Orange has shown no ability to put together a consistent offensive attack on the road. The touchdown at Penn State came late in the game after good field position, and the long run by Delone Carter on the first series was the only offensive highlight of the Pitt game.

Game of the Week – Post-Thanksgiving games offer some of the best action of the season, highlighted this week by Pittsburgh at West Virginia, known as the Backyard Brawl. The Panthers need to defeat their border rivals to keep pace in their pursuit of the Big East title (Cincinnati completed its slate unblemished). Halftime Snack views the world, and college football, as cyclical; the Mountaineers will spoil Pittsburgh’s party this weekend and then the Panthers will squash the Bearcats' dream next week. All the more reason for the NCAA football championship to be determined on the field and not in the polls.

Heisman watch
– Texas quarterback Colt McCoy did his best Vince Young impersonation Thursday evening, running away from the Texas A&M defensive backs on his way to a four-touchdown effort. If he goes on to win the national championship (as Halftime Snack predicted in September), McCoy will supplant Young as the top QB in Longhorn history.

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