Running out the clock: Week 6 edition

News and notes from Syracuse's 37-34 victory against Tulane.

The Syracuse Orange made things exciting, defeating the Tulane Green Wave with a last-second field goal, 37-34. Courtesy of the Tulane Athletic Department, “We didn’t win big but we won. So it’s a great feeling.” -Antwon Bailey.

The bigger news on Saturday, though, was the passing of long-time Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, one of seven Syracuse University alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Davis was the only non-player of the group, and was enshrined in 1992.

Photo: Lee Saxon / The Tulane Hullabaloo
Ryan Nassib threw two touchdowns against Tulane Saturday.

Despite the pressure of Tulane’s defense, quarterback Ryan Nassib still threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Only 62 of those yards came in the second half, though. 

Add another 100-yard game to Bailey’s resume. The senior ran for 112 and two touchdowns against the Green Wave. More importantly, the running back finished the day without a fumble.

In fact, this was a turnover-free day for the Orange, as the team finished with a plus-two turnover margin. 

Nassib avoided his main receivers for the most part Saturday. The three top receivers for the Orange were tight end Nick Provo, who finished with three receptions for 39 yards, Bailey, who finished with four catches for 34 yards, and Dorian Graham, who finished with four catches for 55 yards.  

Speaking of Graham, he had his best day in a Syracuse uniform on Saturday. In addition to his four catches, Graham had 22 yards on two carries. He also scored two touchdowns, including one on a gorgeous fade from Nassib.

Excluding a 43-yard kickoff return from Robert Kelley, the Syracuse special teams unit had one of its best days on the year. Ross Krautman was perfect on field goals, connecting on all three of his attempts. Jonathan Fisher looks to have solved the problems at punter, with five punts for a 37.6 yard average. Jeremiah Kobena looked unstoppable in the return game, averaging 44 yards per kick return, including a 79-yarder that he nearly brought back for a touchdown.

Your leader in tackles is Phillip Thomas, who finished with 13 on the day. Marquis Spruill and Kevyn Scott tied for second place with five each.

On the other sideline, Trent Mackey had an incredible statistical day. The redshirt junior led everyone in the tackles department, as he finished with an incredible 18 on the day.

Another Tulane player who had a big day? Xavier Rush, a freshman receiver. Despite having just one catch for nine yards in the first five games of the season, Rush had a huge day, nabbing four receptions for 135 yards. He also scored the first two touchdowns of his career. 

At first glance, Tulane running back Orleans Darkwa’s 15 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns looks mighty impressive against a Syracuse run defense that’s only allowed one rusher to top 70 yards on the ground.  But 40 of those yards came on one run, meaning that he only gained 25 yards on the remaining 14 carries.

Ryan Griffin, the quarterback for the Green Wave, had a huge day through the air. Griffin went 24-30 for 320 yards and two touchdowns against the Orange. The completions and yard totals are season highs for the redshirt junior.

Syracuse had three first downs due to penalties, while Tulane had none. So much for the Green Wave’s home-field advantage.

More home-field problems for Tulane: Though attendance was listed at 23,188 for the game, reports from those at the scene say the numbers are inflated. 

Of course, with Tulane in the rear-view mirror, Syracuse can look forward to a bye week. The rest and recovery period will extend to Friday in what will be the Orange’s toughest game of the season, as No. 13 West Virginia and their high-powered offense come to town. The game will be played for the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy. The namesake for the trophy played at WVU from 1930 to 1932 and coached at SU from 1949 to 1973. Syracuse leads the all-time series, 31-27. The Orange ended an eight-game losing streak against the Mountaineers last year with a 19-14 win in Morgantown, W.Va. 

The game will be televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. next Friday. 

It’s true West Virginia has an obscene amount of talent on its offense. Look no further than Geno Smith, who has thrown for 1,709 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, putting him at the top of the watch list for Big East Player of the Year. There’s also the team’s trio of talented receivers: Tavon Austin (35 receptions, 490 yards, 1 TD), Stedman Bailey (27 receptions, 456 yards, 3 TD’s) and Ivan McCartney (28 receptions, 324 yards and 3 TD’s). There’s a reason the team is ranked sixth in passing yards per game in the FBS.

We didn’t even get to Bruce Irvin, the senior defensive end who finished last season with 14 sacks, or the defensive back tandem of Keith Tandy and Terence Garvin, who both rank in the top five on the team in tackles and have two interceptions.

With athletes like these, it’s probably easy to dismiss the Friday night game as another blowout, one that looks like the dismantling at Southern Cal. Too much talent that stops the Orange in its tracks. On the other hand, here are four factors that differentiate this game from the one against the Trojans.

A) The game is at home. One of the positives from the Rutgers defeat was the fact that the fans came out in droves and had a definitive impact on the game. If that happens again for the West Virginia game, (and why not, considering it’s the best team the Orange have hosted in three years) expect crowd noise to be a huge factor.

B) While Torrey Ball, Brandon Sharpe and Mikhail Marinovich have played excellently in his absence, Chandler Jones is the best defensive end on the team. After missing five weeks with a lower-body injury, the lineman is on track to return to the lineup against the Mountaineers.

C) Last year, Syracuse went into Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers, 19-14. The defense had a big hand in that win, forcing Smith into three interceptions.

D) Oliver Luck said this about the Orange on the Big East Network, “In fact, I would trade Air Force or Navy for Syracuse every day of the week in terms of the quality of the football program. No disrespect, but that's just an observation I think most would agree with who understand football.” Know that those words will be on a bulletin board in the Syracuse locker room for the next two weeks.  

On Friday, October 21, everyone will find out if Luck’s words were true or just helped to an Orange victory.


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