The View From Here: The September Schedule |

The View From Here: The September Schedule


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
SU fans are fond of saying “Other than the USC game, there’s no game we can’t win.” Actually we can win all the games if we outscore the other team. And even in the USC game, if the team goes into the game feeling it has no chance, they will perform poorly and get beat worse than if they thought victory was possible. So we can win all the games. The downside is that we’re beatable, too and there aren’t any teams we can just assume we’ll beat, except perhaps Rhode Island, who will be in the same position we will be in vs. USC. But that’s OK- you don’t win games because of assumptions. You’ve got to go out and make the plays that will win the game.

Thursday September 1st 8PM (all times EDT or EST)in the Dome vs. Wake Forest TV: ESPN 3 (which you get through their internet site)

Five years ago G-Rob’s second team opened at Wake Forest, one of the perennial doormats of college football and got beat 10-20. After a 1-10 season the year before, this was a disappointing beginning to Robinson’s second year. It turned out that was the best team Wake has ever had, one that improbably won the ACC and went to the Orange Bowl. Our loss was actually the 4th best performance against Wake Forest that year. Only twice in his career here did a G-Rob team rank better than that in point differential.

But the Demon Deacons seem to have fallen back to historical norms., going from 11 wins to 9 to 8 to 5 to 3. Last year they were 3-9 and all nine losses were in a row, some by scores like 24-68, 21-52 and 14-62. This is one we should win but we’ve lost our last 8 games in the Dome vs. ACC teams. Strange things always seem to happen like in 1997 when Dee Brown, a freshman, tried to stick the ball over the goal line as we were setting up for a game winning chip shot field goal, trying to win it with a touchdown. The ball got slapped out of his hand and we lost in overtime. (That was the night Princess Diana died and I made a very bad joke some years alter that they crashed because they were listening to the SU-NC State game at the time.). Then there was 2002 when a kid from New York State playing for North Carolina became the only player in history to hit three 50+ yard field goals in a game to beat us 22-30. What’s going to happen this time?

Last year Wake was a very young team. They had a freshman quarterback, Tanner Price, who struggled and a freshman running back, Josh Harris, who didn’t. Harris, a 4.3 man in the 40, gained 241 rushing vs. league champion Virginia Tech. There are several speedy receivers, including Chris Givens who has TD catches of more than 40 yards. They have a big, (320 pound average from tackle to tackle), veteran offensive line with four seniors and a junior- and that’s what gave SU such trouble last year. But the Wake line has been a weakness , rather than a strength for them.(Maybe those are a G-Rob like 320 pounds.) It remains to be seen if getting the same guys back will help them this year. I suppose however, you could say the same thing about Syracuse.

Similarly, Wake returns most of a defense that gave up 36 points a game, including 29 touchdown passes. Like us, they are rather smallish up front but quick: how will they match up against more physical teams? And can we be that kind of team against them? Wake’s defense is probably best at linebacker where they have an All-ACC linebacker in Keith Wilber, who had 14.5 tackles for a loss. The secondary was full of freshmen last year but they are “talented and fast” per Athlon.
The Deacons have a good place-kicker in Jimmy Newman but have problems punting and returning kicks. They hope to bounce back strongly with more experienced players and Doug Marrone is warning everybody about them. They will probably stop the trend of winning fewer games than the previous year for the last five seasons but I think they are back to being Wake Forest and we are getting back to being Syracuse so we should beat them but…who knows what will happen this time!

Their stats from last year:
Offense- rushing 158.5 (54th) passing 143.8 (114th), total 302.3 (108th) scoring 22.8 (91st)
Defense- rushing 192.5 (99th) passing 238.2 (92nd) total 430.7 (101st) scoring 35.8 (110th)
Turnover margin: even (55th)
Saturday September 10th 4:30PM in the Dome vs. Rhode Island No TV

The Rams are predicted to be the 10th best team in the Colonial League. The last time we played them, we won 63-17. That said, the Colonial league is the best FCS conference in the country. Four of it’s 11 teams have won the FCS national championship in the last decade. Last year’s Rams beat three nationally ranked FCS teams. Maine of that conference, (not one of the four), gave us fits two years ago. QB Steve Probst ran for 600 yards and passed for 1876 more last year. Former QB Anthony Baskerville had 48 receptions. (Too bad we don’t have defensive back Mike Holmes any more to cover Baskerville).

Still we should be 2-0 when we travel to Los Angeles. We’d better be.

Their stats from last year: (Rankings are FCS, not FBS)
Offense- rushing 146.3 (60th) passing 170.5 (78th), total 316.9 (88th) scoring 19.7 (90st)
Defense- rushing 126.4 (25th) passing 238.7 (102nd) total 365.1 (73rd) scoring 24.4 (55th)
Turnover margin: +1 (52nd )
Saturday September 17th 8PM at Southern California TV: FX (Fox)

When this game was scheduled, it was to be a confrontation of two old buddies and college roommates, Pete Carroll and Greg Robinson. Our AD, Daryl Gross, had come here from USC and asked Carroll who he thought Gross should hire for the SU job and he immediately said “Greg Robinson”. Both are now gone from the scene, Carroll escaping NCAA sanctions by jumping to the NFL and G-Rob having been ridden out of town on a rail after going a pathetic 10-37. Ironically Lane Kiffin was mentioned for the SU job after Robinson left. Instead he got a job he liked better at Tennessee and one he liked even more at USC. The guy has a career head coaching record of 20 wins and 26 losses yet he keeps getting these great jobs, mostly because he brings his father, legendary defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, with him.

Both teams were 8-5 last year. That’s where the comparison ends. At Syracuse, that was a major accomplishment. At USC, that was a disaster they are trying to recover from. USC is facing probation that will deprive them of scholarships and keep them off TV for a time- but it hasn’t been put into effect yet. They went out and recruited one of the nation’s top recruiting classes to tide them over until the sanctions wear off. This game will be a battle of our 2 and 3 star recruits vs. their 4 and 5 star recruits. I’m sure our guys will be reminded of that and they will be motivated to prove those ratings wrong. But an entire team of more highly rated players is going to be tough to beat. If you combined the teams the vast majority of the starters would likely be their guys.
Quarterback Matt Barkley had the kind of year last year we are hoping Ryan Nassib will have this year: 236 of 377 (62.6) 2791 yards, 26TDs, 12 interceptions. His top target is the Pac 10 offensive freshman of the year, Robert Woods, who had 65 catches but for a somewhat modest 792 yards, (12.2) and 6 TDs. Marc Tyler and Dillon Baxter are “a devastating tailback tandem” per The Sporting News. But they lack experience in the offensive line losing three starters.

Monte Kiffin’s defense gave up a shocking 400.1 yards per game last year. His legend comes from his stint in the pros and sometimes pro coaches have a tough time adjusting to college talent and schemes, (G-Rob had two Super Bowl rings as a defensive coordinator). Athlon: If there is a strength to this unit, it’s up front, where there is a talented group of experienced players led by end Nick Perry. The linebacking was somewhat less than credible a year ago. “. TJ McDonald is a” a star in the making” at safety.

They’ve got a freshman place-kicker and punter, so their kicking game is a question mark.

Five teams beat these guys a year ago, three of them in the LA Coliseum. When SU last played there, 11/25/67, Rick Cassata and Larry Csonka walked all over Gary Beban’s UCLA team, 32-14 a week after their famous confrontation with OJ Simpson‘s USC team. So we can win there. We probably won’t but we have to believe we can to play well at all.

Their stats from last year:
Offense- rushing 189.3 (25th) passing 242.2 (41st ), total 431.5 (26th) scoring 31.0 (37th)
Defense- rushing 140.5 (49th) passing 259.5 (109th) total 400.1 (84th) scoring 26.7 (63rd )
Turnover margin: +4 (36th)
Saturday September 24th Noon in the Dome vs. Toledo TV: Big East Network

This is another battle of two teams that were 8-5 last year but Toledo is not USC. They are, however, a formidable team, with 9 offensive and 8 defensive starters back from a team that beat Purdue 31-20 but also lost to Arizona 2-41. Still, they will be a contender for the MAC championship and we’ve had trouble with MAC teams in recent years. Basically, if we are good again, we should win this game at home. If we aren’t, we are vulnerable to a team like this.
A key to their success is for the same reason we had such a good record in 2001: a +11 turnover margin. But that’s the kind of stat that can change quickly. They out-gained their opposition last year by exactly 8 yards. They had two quarterbacks last year: Austin Dantin was the starter for the first nine games, then hurt his shoulder. Terrence Owens then took the team to three wins in four games to finish the year. Both are back They have a tailback named “Adonis”, just like we do: Adonis Thomas gained 1098 yards on just 175 carries (6.3) and 8 scores. Back-up Morgan Williams gained 1010 yards rushing in 2008. Eric Page “is arguably the best offensive talent tin the MAC”, per Athlon. He had 99 receptions for 1105 yards and 8TDS. He also returned three kicks for touchdowns last year That’s as many as we’ve had in the last 8 years.

They’ve got four year starters at offensive tackle. Defensively they have all conference performers in end TJ Fatinikun and “old school” middle linebacker Dan Molls. And, “there’s plenty of talent in the secondary.”

This is a dangerous team. We could be coming back from LA with our tails between our legs. If so, we could be in for a very unpleasant surprise from the Rockets. In a way, winning this game may be as important as the USC game- we’ve got to win the games we are supposed to win if we are going to have a good season and this could be a very tough one.

Their stats from last year:
Offense- rushing 167.4 (43rd) passing 198.0 (77th), total 365.4 (74th) scoring 27.9 (54th)
Defense- rushing 133.5 (36th) passing 231.3 (86th) total 364.8 (86th) scoring 28.5 (73rd )
Turnover margin: +11 (15th)
Toledo faces a tough stretch to open.. after New Hamp the play Ohio state and then Boise . they could 0-3 or just plain beat up.

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