Syracuse ended the season on a five-game losing streak and outside the bowl picture. For those Orange fans wishing to forget, you can take some solace in knowing your team was not the only one to collapse after a win over a ranked team.
Strangely enough, the weekend of Oct. 21 changed the fortunes of not only Syracuse but Texas Tech as well.
It all began Friday night, Oct. 21. Syracuse hosted No. 15 West Virginia, and nobody gave the Orange much of a chance to win. But they played their best game of the season and scored 49 points in the win -- the most points they had scored in the series since 1960. Their game plan was perfect, much the way it was in its upset over West Virginia in 2010. Pressure on Geno Smith; endless wheel routes to Nick Provo. Syracuse went to 5-2 on the season, and seemed to be a near lock to go bowling again.
On Saturday, Texas Tech traveled to play No. 3 Oklahoma. The Red Raiders were 28-point underdogs, and facing a team that had won 39 games at home. No way would they pull the upset, right? Just like Syracuse, Texas Tech pulled the improbable shocker, also putting up over 40 points in the victory. The Red Raiders got themselves to 5-2, and also figured to be headed to their 12th straight bowl game.
But alas, both Syracuse and Texas Tech ended the season without winning another game. Both teams ended with five-game losing streaks and 5-7 records. For Texas Tech, this is the first season since 1999 it has not gone to a bowl. Big 12 blogger David Ubben could not decide which was more surprising: the upset win over Oklahoma, or the late-season collapse:
5. Texas Tech ends college football's longest home winning streak then doesn't win again. After suffering close losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M, Texas Tech upset Oklahoma as 28-point underdogs, ending Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak that dated back to 2005 and became the first Big 12 team to win in Norman since 2001. A week later, though, the Red Raiders were whacked, 41-7, by Iowa State and didn't win a game the rest of the year. Which was more surprising? Both were jaw-droppers. As a result, Texas Tech endured its first losing season in 18 years.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said several times he thought that the pressure of having to live up to such a big win was too much for his players to handle. They never played relaxed. Perhaps that affected Texas Tech some as well, though the Red Raiders did have some injuries that really hurt the team.
As for several other unranked teams that pulled upsets this season, they can relate to Texas Tech and Syracuse. But at least they got to go bowling:
Arizona State. The Sun Devils beat No. 23 USC 43-22 on Sept. 24 and followed up the win with two more in a row to get to 5-1. They promptly closed the season 1-6.
Iowa State. The Cyclones ruined the national championship hopes of No. 2 Oklahoma State, 37-31 in overtime, then had a brutal end to the season, with losses at No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 11 Kansas State.
Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat No. 15 Wisconsin, then beat Indiana before losing the final three games of the season at Purdue, then to No. 21 Penn State and at No. 15 Michigan.