How's that for a bounce-back performance?
A week after turning it over four times and ruining an upset chance on the road, Syracuse connected on all cylinders Friday night, riding a 100-yard receiver, a 100-yard rusher and a quarterback who was nearly flawless to victory in a 40-10 rout of Connecticut.
Not the happiest of homecomings for Paul Pasqualoni.
The Huskies' defense entered the Carrier Dome ranked sixth in the nation, but it had no answer for an Orange team that rattled off the game's final 27 points, including a 20-0 second-half shutout.
Ryan Nassib got to call it a day early after completing 14 of 20 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers, adding 20 rushing yards on six carries. Jerome Smith ran for 133 yards on just 19 carries, and Alec Lemon was all over the field, catching eight passes for 166 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter that made it 37-10.
UConn's offense was predictably stagnant, totaling negative-6 rushing yards on the night. Lyle McCombs played but managed just 17 yards on 11 carries. In a rather fitting play to cap the contest, Chandler Whitmer was picked off in front of the goal line by Shamarko Thomas, who then danced around and wasted 17 seconds before finally getting tackled deep in UConn territory with 54 seconds remaining. Whitmer was assessed a personal foul on the return as well.
That was the only throw that Whitmer had picked off, and it marked just the fourth interception of the season recorded by Syracuse. Whitmer completed 23 of 41 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. That score was a 32-yard second-quarter toss to Ryan Griffin that cut the lead to 13-10, but it was all Syracuse from that point forward.
You can't ask for much more than what Syracuse showed in another Friday-night home victory, its second this season. The Orange are now 2-1 in Big East play, getting a win they desperately needed if they want to go bowling for the first time in two years. The forecast is not so bright for the Huskies, who have dropped three consecutive games to open conference play and will have a bye week to try to gather themselves.
An offense averaging just 9 points per Big East contest will get plenty of dissection, but on Friday night it was the defense that let UConn down.