- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now that Syracuse is back as a competitive team in the Big East, we can expect the Orange to start talking about getting revenge in a grudge match this week against Connecticut, right?
Remember how the Orange's season ended in 2009. They trailed UConn 42-31 with under a minute to play when the Huskies called a passing play on fourth down, resulting in a 28-yard touchdown catch by Marcus Easley. Connecticut recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the final seconds to make the final score 56-31.
After the game, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone looked animated and exchanged some choice words with UConn coach Randy Edsall. Neither coach ever disclosed what was said, but it was pretty clear Marrone didn't ask how Edsall's family was doing. Some Syracuse players called it a cheap shot and said that play would be remembered.
All right (rubbing hands together). Let's get this on when the two teams meet Saturday in the Carrier Dome and ... wait, what's this?
"There is no storyline behind this game," Marrone said. "There is no grudge, there is no payback, there is none of that. The storyline behind this game is that were facing a team as good as anyone in the Big East now that is coming off two big wins."
Well, that's disappointing, but perhaps it's just a coach being political. Let's get a player's take on things. Create some copy for us, Derrell Smith.
"That's in the past," the senior linebacker said. "We're just focused on getting another win. It's over with, and basically we're just going to go out there and play our game."
Nothing adds juice to a game or makes a writer's job easier than some good old-fashioned hard feelings. The Orange were quite obviously peeved with the play at the time, but you can see how things might have cooled down. First of all, Syracuse is 7-3 and qualified for a bowl. UConn has won two straight to position itself in the Big East title hunt. The winner of this game has a good chance of earning at least a share of the league championship and possibly the BCS bid if things break right. So there are bigger fish to fry than some running-up-the-score allegations.
Plus, it's hard to buy Marrone and Edsall as heated adversaries. Edsall is a Syracuse alumnus who was a graduate assistant when Marrone played for the Orange, and the two later coached together as assistants at Georgia Tech. Marrone talked this week about happy he was when Edsall got the UConn job.
"I probably talk to him more than anybody when we’re at the Big East meetings because we know each other so well," Marrone said. ".I wouldn’t say that [there are bad feelings] at all. If anything we have a great amount of respect for each other and we work together. I root for him every week, except for when they play us.”
OK, fine. It's puppy dogs and ice cream. But if one of you throws a touchdown pass at the end of the game with a big lead, you'd better give us some good quotes afterward.