The Orange got back to a bowl game in 2010, but the program is still building. USC may be on probation, but the level of talent on its campus is a lot better than what Marrone has in upstate New York.
The big difference was that when USC made mistakes, they could generally get their way out of them based on their athleticism. They gave up yards in dribs and drabs, but few big plays. The Trojans, on the other hand, picked on the Syracuse secondary to the tune of 324 passing yards and five passing touchdowns.
As a result, Syracuse dropped its first game of the season, and now heads back East to play Toledo. The coaching staff will spend much of the seven days breaking down film and looking for strategies to ground the Rockets.
But they are unlikely to have to answer many questions about the MAC opponent. Instead, they're going to get a ton of questions about the shift in leagues and what that means in the long-term, while they themselves are focusing almost entirely on the short-term ... the showdown at noon ET this Saturday.
--Syracuse's offense did well on third downs, making eight of its 15 conversion attempts. However, that paled in comparison to what USC did against the Orange defense. The Trojans went 10-14 on their third down attempts.
--Doug Marrone broke out the trick play catalog, letting Alec Lemon throw a pass after getting the ball on the lateral. Lemon hit Van Chew for a 28-yard touchdown, the first non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass since Kevin Johnson did so in the 1997 season.
--Both Van Chew and Nick Provo caught passes against USC, extending their streak of consecutive games with a reception to 16. That ties them with Pat Woodcock for the 10th-longest streak in school history.
KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Antwon Bailey -- Bailey didn't get many carries against USC, as the Orange spent the whole game playing from behind. He finished with just 11, turning them into 47 yards. However, he also got work as a receiver out of the backfield, catching five passes for 40 yards.
LOOKING GOOD: Ryan Nassib was generally effective, leading the team on three scoring drives of 70 or more yards. The Orange made their presence felt on defense, delivering some potent hits. Alec Lemon threw his first career touchdown pass, while tight end Nick Provo and running back Antwon Bailey again proved to be valuable safety valves for Nassib.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Syracuse's passing game is limited by dropped passes and the lack of confidence in testing the defense deep. None of the wide receivers have shown that kind of game-breaking ability and Ryan Nassib isn't going throw the ball downfield in the hopes that something good happens, so it allows the safeties to cheat closer to the line of scrimmage. The secondary also continues to struggle, although at least they can take solace in the fact that the USC wideouts are better than what they'll typically see in the Big East.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Joining the Atlantic Coast Conference puts us in a strong position for the future. The ACC has quality schools academically and athletically. I look forward to competing against them." -- Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, in a statement released by the University, after the school's decision to depart the Big East for the ACC.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--TE Nick Provo moved into fifth place in Syracuse history for receiving yards by a tight end. He had a career-best eight passes for 85 yards against the Trojans, and now has 612 receiving yards for his career.
--QB Ryan Nassib threatened an NCAA record before misfiring on a second-quarter pass attempt. That ended his streak of consecutive completions, which began the previous week at Rhode Island, at 22. The NCAA record is held by Aaron Rodgers at 26.
--P Jonathan Fisher got his first snaps as a collegiate, as Shane Raupers was ineffective on his three punts. Fisher got to boot the ball twice, averaging 43.5 yard with a long of 48 and a punt inside the 20.
--S Shamarko Thomas left the USC game early with an undisclosed injury, and did not return.
--CB Keon Lyn, who's been banged up all season, missed the end of the USC game with an undisclosed injury.