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Bad News for Syracuse Orange, Doug Marrone is Heading to the NFL

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After a four year stint as head coach of the Syracuse Orange, Doug Marrone will be migrating across the Empire State to become the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Marrone led Syracuse to a 25-25 record during his time there, and capped off a surprising 8-5 2012 season with an even more surprising 38-14 victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.

A .500 record may not exactly seem like NFL material to most people, but it seems to me that Buffalo is trying to gain support in the surrounding area, and adding a popular coach from a school that is relatively close to home is a great way to do that. The Bills recently reached a deal to keep the team in Buffalo for at least the next seven years, which was likely a reaction to the continuous rumors that the Bills were one of the top candidates to relocate should a current NFL team make the jump to Los Angeles.

The step up for Morrone is a step back for Syracuse, however. The Orange were finally starting to legitimize themselves as a school that doesn’t only play basketball in the Carrie Dome and now they must face the future without the coach that hauled them up out of the basement of the Big East. Replacing a head coach is never easy, but the fact that Syracuse is set to move to the ACC for the 2013 football season makes it all the more difficult. As West Virginia learned this season, stepping out of the Big East and into a big boy conference isn’t all that easy.

The time gap between the end of the NCAA Football regular season and the end of the NFL regular season will also cause problems for Syracuse. The majority of the head coaches worth snatching up from smaller schools have already been poached. Most of the coordinators ready to strap into the driver’s seat have been laid claim to as well. Perhaps the Orange can pull off a reversal of fortunes and snag an NFL coach who has recently found himself out of work.

With Marrone at the helm Syracuse had a bright future, and while it is likely that they would not have been able to keep him around for much longer if he were to continue elevating the play of the Orange football team, losing him at this particular time hurts a little something extra. If I were a Syracuse fan, I would strap in for a bumpy first few years in the ACC. On the plus side, at least you snuck out of the Big East before it folds.

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Duke-Syracuse Game Preview, Prediction

Starting the season outside of the Top 25, the Duke Blue Devils were playing with a chip on their shoulder. Now that they are 7-1 on the year, no one is overlooking the darkhorse favorites to dethrone Florida State for an ACC title. The Syracuse Orange started the season 2-0, but have since lost six of seven to lead to a 3-6 record. While they aren’t a threat for the conference title, the Orange can still play spoiler.

Senior quarterback Anthony Boone has been the spark that has gotten the Blue Devils going this season. Boone has passed for 1,628 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions while rushing for another 243 yards and four touchdowns. Jamison Crowder is clearly the team’s top receiving weapon, catching 49 passes for 636 yards and four touchdowns. Max McCaffrey and Issac Blakeney have been basically equal in the receiving department, both catching 26 passes for three scores apiece while McCaffrey has 261 yards and Blakeney has 259 yards. Freshman running back Shaun Wilson has been a main reason for the team’s run success, rushing for 528 yards and four touchdowns.

Syracuse had been led by a dual-threat quarterback of its own in Terrel Hunt who had 983 passing yards and a touchdowns as well as 292 yards and six rushing scores before his injury. He hasn’t returned yet, paving way for freshman quarterback AJ Long to get the nod as the starter. Long hasn’t been very impressive, however, passing for 727 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions. Jarrod West doesn’t care who’s behind center as he has been effective either way, catching 40 passes for 610 yards. Steve Ishmael has been the second-best wide out on the team, catching 20 passes for 311 yards and three scores. Prince-Tyson Gulley has been solid this season in the run game, leading the team with 526 yards and a touchdown while also catches 20 passes out of the backfield for 107 yards.

Defensively, the Orange have been a bit above average this season, ranking 38th in total yards allowed as well as 43rd in points allowed per contest. In their three wins this season, Syracuse has given up an average of 12 points. Before last week, Duke had done a solid job of keeping opponents out of the end zone. On the year, the Blue Devils rank 13th in points against and a lowly 81st nationally in total yards allowed.

Duke will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange at 12:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, Nov. 8. The game will be broadcasted on GamePlan/ESPN 3.

PREDICTION: Duke 23, Syracuse 21

Want to see the Blue Devils take on the Orange in week 11? Check out ScoreBig for tickets.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at

Duke will travel to Syracuse to take on the Orange in week 11. Who will come out on top?

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