The Big East race has officially been flipped upside down.
Syracuse registered a shocking 19-14 upset against No. 20 West Virginia in Morgantown, making us throw everything we thought we knew out the window.
More on that in a second, but first things first. The Orange deserve scores of praise for coming into the toughest environment in the league and pulling off the win. And to do it one week after getting blown out at home against Pittsburgh really speaks to this team's resiliency and toughness. We thought Syracuse might be turning a corner after the 4-1 start, then scoffed after last week. Now at 5-2, the Orange are looking like a bowl contender -- and who's to say they can't win the Big East?
The defensive effort from Scott Shafer's crew was outstanding. The Mountaineers didn't score in the second half, and the Orange kept coming after quarterback Geno Smith and not allowing him to lead another comeback. On the final two offensive plays for West Virginia, Smith was hit as he threw and then sacked on fourth down. He also threw three interceptions.
The Orange sold out on the blitz against South Florida with great success, but with no luck against Pitt. On Saturday, they did a terrific job of disguising coverages and keeping Smith off balance all day. Syracuse didn't score in the second half, either, but it parlayed those first-half turnovers into a lead and then played field position. Even more impressive, it held on without Delone Carter, who didn't play after getting hurt on a second-quarter run. Antwon Bailey stepped up and contributed 94 yards.
This is not going to be a fun week in Morgantown. West Virginia fans are understandably up in arms after their team flopped. Many of the same complaints about the offense and its reliance on short passes will be raised again. Bill Stewart had finally earned some respect after a 5-1 start, but now much of that has been eroded again.
West Virginia still has enough talent to come back and win the league, but it must now navigate through what looks like a surging rival in Pittsburgh.
Saturday, however, belonged to Syracuse. As big as the Orange's win against South Florida was, this one was twice as large.