Midseason report: Syracuse


Record: 4-2 (0-1, Big East)

You want to talk about cardiac kids? The Orange started the season with a thrilling come-from-behind win against Wake Forest in overtime. The drama was only the beginning. Syracuse has played in three overtime games this season. A fourth game, last week against Tulane, was decided when Ross Krautman kicked the game-winning field goal with no time left. They have won their four games by an average of five points, and have made things hard on themselves against teams from outside the automatic qualifying conferences. That includes a 33-30 overtime win over Toledo that made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Big East admitted after the game that its officials made a mistake when they allowed an extra point from Krautman on the go-ahead touchdown. Replays showed it was wide.

Of course, that has not been the only off-the-field drama for the Orange this season. They also made headlines last month for their surprising move to leave the Big East and join the ACC. On the field, the story of the season has been two-fold. The Orange have had a hard time running the ball, and their young defense has had a tough time getting stops. Syracuse has held just one opponent to less than 300 total yards this season -- FCS Rhode Island -- but even in that game the Orange struggled to win. They have given up more than 300 passing yards in four of six games this season, and have played all but one game without veteran starting defensive end Chandler Jones. Offensively, Ryan Nassib has been more efficient, but a lot has been placed on his shoulders because the run game has not been as good as it was last season. Syracuse ranks No. 7 in the Big East in rushing offense, and is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry. Coach Doug Marrone said everything would be re-evaluated during the bye as the Orange try to become bowl eligible for the second straight season.

Offensive MVP: QB Ryan Nassib. Nassib ranks No. 3 in the Big East in passing yards a game, averaging 215.7. He has 11 touchdown passes to four interceptions, and is completing 64.6 percent of his passes -- on pace to set a career high. No question Nassib looks more comfortable running the offense and has done a nice job in leading some of the comeback wins.

Defensive MVP: S Phillip Thomas. He has been a bright spot on a young defense that has taken its share of injury hits this season. Thomas leads the team with 46 tackles and three interceptions, and is tied for the team lead with three pass breakups. Freshman Dyshawn Davis has come on strong, too, with four sacks and seven tackles for loss.