Syracuse lost the turnover battle, penalty battle, big-play battle, field-position battle, and just about every other battle one team could on a Saturday afternoon against Pittsburgh. The 33-20 loss was the fifth in a row for the Orange, wrapping-up the season at a dismal 5-7 after such a hot start.
After the game, the players admitted that they thought a win would be pulled out somewhere on the way to a second-straight bowl.
It wasn't the case.
"I really feel for the seniors," coach Doug Marrone said after the game. "I wanted to make sure that they can go out and feel good about themselves the right way – by going to a bowl game two years in a row."
The underclassmen also felt for their elder teammates, though the losses seeminly took each by storm.
"Not in a million years," Jerome Smith said after the game when asked if the team finishing 5-7 was even a possibility after the big win over West Virginia on October 21. "We were ready, just beat West Virginia – team was together.
"Ready to win just one more game."
That mentality wasn't a solo one from Smith as players looked back at the year after the loss to Pitt.
"This one hurt the most," Chandler Jones said. "It ended our season, ended out chance to make history (by makin it to consecutive bowls)."
"After you start off that great and you have a 5-2 season (after the WVU win), you go 0-5 from there…" Dan Vaughan said. "We had an opportunity and there were high expectations and ready for this game.
"It just didn't work out. "
Vaughan, Jones and the defense played well in tight spots on Saturday, but the early hole proved to be too much. Syracuse would not get closer than to within three points the rest of the way. The biggest disappointment comes from the top – like senior Antwon Bailey.
"It's hard to explain," he said. "It's sad to see (the season and his career) come to an end."
The only thing left to do is for the coaches to get on the recruiting trail and move forward in preparation for the 2012 season, something Bailey is looking forward to keeping up with.
"They are going to come back with a vengeance next year," Bailey said. "I feel sorry for anybody who is on the schedule next year.
"No matter who it is, no matter where they're playing – it's going to be something to pay."