After bowl Friday, Syracuse is up, Maryland is down

That was some bowl day for me Friday.

One down, one up.

My alma mater Maryland lost in the Military Bowl by falling apart defensively in the final quarter. I was not happy.

My 30-year hometown team Syracuse took the Texas Bowl title with a last-minute touchdown against Minnesota. I danced around the living room.

I was so right in my Friday declaration that these bowl games do matter to me.

Maryland and Syracuse finish this 2013 season with identical records, 7-5.

And yet here’s my final grades for they year:

Public Domain

Public Domain

I give Maryland a ‘C-‘ for its final season in the Atlantic Coast Conference before it heads to the Big Ten.

They started 4-0, earning a top 25 ranking and raising expectations. And then, in the ACC opener, the Terps were blasted 63-0 by Florida State. Maryland couldn’t break even in the ACC after that, finishing at 3-5.

The Terps lost at home to Syracuse in a pivotal game in my grade book.

They dropped a heartbreaker at home to Boston College to a final-second field goal after coach Randy Edsall called two questionable time outs in the final minute with the game appearing to head to overtime.

The highlights were a 37-0 shutout over hated non-league rival West Virginia in Baltimore for win No. 4, and a pair of league road wins, solidly at snarly Virginia Tech, and joyously at North Carolina State in the Terps’ final ACC regular season game ever.

Yes, the injury jinx visited Maryland hard again, this time taking out star receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, both with broken legs, in an October loss to Wake Forest.

But falling 31-20 to Marshall of Conference USA after failing to stop the Thundering Herd on two crucial fourth-quarter touchdown drives is bitter, indeed. In Edsall’s third season, the Terps still looked confused on defense, made too many mistakes on offense, and lost games that they were leading late.

The two aforementioned wide receivers will be back, and slick-running quarterback C.J. Brown was granted a medical hardship waiver for a sixth season, but entry into the Big Ten will not be easy. The Terps will play in a division that includes Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State. That’s a lot of aura staring you in the face the first time around.

Public domain

Public domain

I give Syracuse a ‘B-‘ for its first season in the ACC.

The Orange started 0-2 under first-year coach Scott Shafer, who got the job in January after Doug Marrone left for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. Syracuse fell to Penn State and Northwestern of the Big Ten. This Maryland alum took notice.

But Shafer got them back to level and found a new starting quarterback in Terrel Hunt with blowout wins over Wagner and Tulane.

The first ACC game ever was a 49-14 loss to Clemson in the Carrier Dome. But even after a dreadful first half, the Orange provided a slim glimmer of hope by standing tall at the beginning of the second half.

It was a see-saw 4-4 ACC season.

The down side featured an embarrassing 56-0 loss at Georgia Tech in which the Orange could not stop the Yellow Jackets’ running game a lick, a 59-3 thrashing at Florida State, and a nail-biter 17-16 defeat at home to Pitt that dropped the record to 5-6.

The highlights are the robust final game performance against Boston College, a 34-31 last-second victory that brought the Carrier Dome to life, and that equally exciting comeback bowl victory over Minnesota of the Big Ten. The Gophers took the field with a record of 8-4 compared to the Orange’s 6-6. It was a thrilling 21-17 victory for the underdog.

Quarterback Hunt returns as a junior, but he’ll have to fight off several talented redshirt or true freshman to start. Mainstay running back Jerome Smith has announced he’s leaving for a crack at the NFL, but slippery Prince-Tyson Gulley has been granted a fifth year of eligibility for medical reasons. Young RBs George Morris II and Devante McFarlane both looked promising when pressed into action when Gulley was hurt this season.

The Orange coaches and players will be more familiar with the ACC opponents next season. Maryland is leaving, but its replacement will be old Big East rival Louisville.

The Orange football curve is on the rise.

What a difference these two bowl games made.

13 thoughts on “After bowl Friday, Syracuse is up, Maryland is down

  1. Congratulations and condolences. I guess both apply in this case, since Syracuse won and Maryland didn’t. My own feeling about football though is that they should each have their own little ball and their own little playing space, and just stop knocking each other down. Of course, it’s getting to be dangerous with the round balls now too, so I could say the same about basketball. But only when UK loses.


      • major understatement mark about michigan’s game, but you were kind to root for them. yes, i so excited on ny eve day, is a double header alumni wings game in comerica park, all of my all time favs will be playing, and then on ny eve day, the wings vs. toronto will be playing in michigan stadium in ann arbor. it should be freezing but worth it, i love outdoor hockey and i love the wings )


      • Wow, Red Wings alumni doubleheader sounds pretty fab. I go back to seeing them against Rangers and Islanders to Frank Mahovlich days, but he’s probably too old to lace them up now. Bet you’ll see Chris Chelios, Chris Osgood, Dino Ciccarelli. Coach Scotty Bowman? Man those Wings Stanley Cup winners were great. And Wings vs. Leafs in Michigan Stadium the next day, real NHL game outside in front of what, 75,000? You are pretty fortunate with that holiday stretch, Beth. I am envious. I hope I can catch the second game on TV.


  2. I can read all the words – but I am lost. I need to study this game to stand a chance of having a clue as to what it all means. Mark, could you do a post that lays out the basics? I shall have to get American football for dummies. (I am hoping someone has written it)


    • That post would be a pip for me to write, Rachel. It would be five decades in the learning process of this game that has my heart. In Syracuse, the coaches used to hold a class for anybody who wanted to learn the basics. A lot of wives who did not want to be left out of the excitement attended, as I recall, although being a true fan of football truly has nothing to do with gender. You got me going now, Rachel.


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