The Syracuse Orange had won only two games at home this season and both of those came against FCS opponents. On the other hand, the UConn Huskies came into Saturday night's game 0-4 on the road. So something had to give between these two teams.
Someone from either team would need to step up and get the job done. And on this Saturday night at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY, it was UConn's defense who came ready to play.
A strong defensive effort by the Huskies coupled with the running of Jordan Todman led them to a 23-6 win over the Orange in front of 41,465 and a nationally televised audience on ESPNU.
With the win the Huskies move to 6-4 (3-2 Big East) and stay alive in the race for the Big East's BCS bid. The win also makes UConn bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season. The Orange fall to 7-4 and finish their Big East portion of the schedule at 4-3. This also marks the fourth straight time that UConn has beaten Syracuse.
Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib will probably have nightmares of Kendall Reyes and Trevardo Williams when he sleeps. It seemed like they were constantly in his face on every passing play. Even Scott Lutrus looked like the Lutrus of old as it really seems to have put the stinger injury behind him. It was a solid effort from the front four to the linebackers to the secondary of the Huskies.
Offensively, just like last week, it was the offensive line and Todman who got the job done. The passing game was ineffective once again as Zach Frazer was 13-of-21 for 98 yards. And even with the Orange putting eight to nine guys in the box, the offensive line opened up holes for Todman and he took advantage of them.
After forcing the Orange to punt on their first possession, the Huskies put together a very nice opening drive as Frazer hit 3-of-4 passes for 38 yards and Todman rushing for 42. The drive culminated with Todman taking it in from the one yard line to put the Huskies out front 7-0.
The Orange would get a field goal to end the first quarter as would the Huskies at the end of the second quarter to take a 10-3 lead at the half.
UConn would go three and out on their first possession of the second half and then would force the Orange to punt on theirs. But Nick Williams fumbled on the return with the Orange recovering it at UConn's 31 yard line. The Huskies defense would hold strong though as the Orange were only able to get 13 yards total and had to settle for a field goal.
Reyes would end up making the key play in the third quarter that turned the game to the Huskies for good.
Syracuse had the ball 3rd and 4 at their own 15 yard line. The Huskies blitzed on the play with Reyes sacking Nassib and forcing the fumble that Williams recovered on the Orange four-yard line.
After the Orange were called for an offside, the ball went to the two-yard line and Todman punched it into the end zone to put the Huskies in control 17-6. From there the defense would cause the Orange fits along with Syracuse making special teams miscues that would help the Huskies out.
UConn would add two field goals in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Since the Louisville game, this UConn team has looked like the team that everyone expected to see this season. It's amazing how they can play now that all the distractions are behind them. They've battled a lot of adversity this season but are now peaking at the right time.
They have two games left that are both winnable. If they can with both of them and have someone beat Pittsburgh along the way, the Huskies would find themselves in a BCS bowl game. But they can only control what they do. And that's all that should matter right now.
It'll be an emotional day at Rentschler Field next Saturday afternoon as it will be Senior Day. It would have been the last home game for the late Jasper Howard. So as they have since his tragic passing, they will continue to go out and give it their all. And if they do, they might find themselves crashing the BCS party.
CON - 5:16 - Jordan Todman 1 Yd Run (Dave Teggart Kick) - CON 7 SYR 0
SYR - 0:02 - Ross Krautman 42 Yd Field Goal - CON 7 SYR 3
CON - 0:31 - Dave Teggart 45 Yd Field Goal - CON 10 SYR 3
SYR - 8:21 - Ross Krautman 35 Yd Field Goal - CON 10 SYR 6
CON - 4:41 - Jordan Todman 2 Yd Run (Dave Teggart Kick) - CON 17 SYR 6
CON - 14:06 - Dave Teggart 35 Yd Field Goal - CON 20 SYR 6
CON - 3:00 - Dave Teggart 23 Yd Field Goal - CON 23 SYR 6
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