SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse coach Doug Marrone isn't ready to lead any bandwagon just yet. But everyone in and around the Orange has to feel good about the direction of the team after a shaky start.
His Orange (4-4, 3-1 Big East) posted a scintillating comeback win at South Florida to remain in the hunt for the league title. Syracuse came back from a 20-point halftime deficit to win 37-36, one of the greatest comebacks in school history.
But Marrone has seen this act before and doesn't put much stock in it.
I don't put a lot into one game, Marrone said. I think that's been done before in the past, and I think it's hurt us a little bit.
Syracuse is 2-0 at home and 1-1 on the road in the Big East as it prepares to travel to Cincinnati on Saturday. Two years ago, the Orange went 4-0 on the road in the conference and winless at home.
The team's recent history certainly backs up Marrone's thought process. Syracuse was 3-25 in the Big East in four years under Greg Robinson and in two of his first three seasons, Marrone went 1-6 in the conference. The exception was 2010 when Syracuse finished 7-5 in the regular season — two of those wins were against FCS teams — and then defeated Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The Orange reverted to form last year, going 1-6 in conference play despite a promising 5-2 start to the season and finished at 5-7.
That his team rallied vs. South Florida did nothing to dissuade Marrone's outlook.
I think a lot of people write about that stuff, but I'm trying to have a significant season, he said. It's very difficult. We've taken one step forward, at times we take steps back, we take a couple more steps forward, we take steps back.
The South Florida game offered a perfect example.
In the first half it was all backward. The Orange dropped balls, failed to intercept a pass, missed a 22-yard field goal, and was whistled for five penalties. All against a team that had lost 10 of 11. At halftime, the Bulls led, 23-3.
Syracuse regrouped in the locker room, then proceeded to fashion the comeback. Nassib threw two touchdown passes, and Alec Lemon ran one in, all before the 6:00 mark of the third.
And away they went.
My goal is just to try to become a more consistent team and program and play better, Marrone said. And I have to be more consistent in getting them ready.
Syracuse at Cincinnati