Orange continue brutal schedule

The Orange will continue a brutal schedule when they play at No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday. Syracuse is coming off a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 2, which preceded a bye week.

The Mountaineers (5-1) should be the fourth and final ranked opponent Syracuse will face this season. West Virginia is the only Big East team included in the Associated Press Top 25 and the Orange have only conference games remaining on their schedule.

After losing 51-0 to Purdue on Sept. 5, Syracuse consistently improved against ranked opponents. The Orange dropped a 31-10 decision at Virginia, then fell just short against Florida State.

"We're pleased from where we started, on Sept. 5," coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "The kids have hung in there. I think we've gotten better and that's satisfying. But we're not satisfied with 3-3."

Syracuse actually had a chance to beat Florida State in the game's final minute, but quarterback Perry Patterson's pass was intercepted in the end zone with five seconds remaining. Patterson completed 19 of 28 passes for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown.

If tailbacks Walter Reyes (92.7 ypg.) and Damien Rhodes (50.2 ypg.) continue to bowl over opponents, Syracuse could make a surprise run at the Big East title. The Orange are 1-0 in league play.


KEEP AN EYE ON: SS Diamond Ferri -- The 5-10, 218-pound junior was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded six solo tackles, forced a fumble and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 9.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just weren't able to connect. We needed one more big play, one more thing to happen. But we came up short." -- Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, on his team's bid to upset then-No. 8 Florida State.


LOOKING GOOD: Syracuse owns the Big East's third-ranked rushing offense at 160.7 yards per game. Tailbacks Walter Reyes (92.7 ypg., 4 TDs) and Damien Rhodes (50.2 ypg., 4 TDs) are two of the best in the league, if not the country.

STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: Syracuse must improve its third-down consistency. The Orange converted just 2 of 13 opportunities in a 17-13 loss to Florida State on Oct. 9. Syracuse is ranked last in the league in third-down conversion percentage (21 of 80).

ROSTER REPORT: WR Steve Gregory has missed four games with a thigh injury and is questionable for the West Virginia game. CB DeAndre LaCaille (hamstring) is also questionable. LB Kellen Pruitt, who missed two games after undergoing knee surgery, should be available this weekend.

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