Syracuse will play in Champs Sports Bowl

Coach Paul Pasqualoni's job may still be on the line, but at least he has guided Syracuse to a bowl game for the first time since 2001. The Orange (6-5) will be playing in the Champs Sports Bowl against Georgia Tech.

Nonetheless, director of athletics Jake Crouthamel has yet to publicly back Pasqualoni. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Crouthamel declined comment as to whether or not he had met with Pasqualoni to discuss the future.

For the short term, Pasqualoni's biggest concern is the health of senior tailback Walter Reyes. Syracuse was able to upset Boston College two weeks ago without Reyes in the lineup, but figures to be a much stronger team with him running the football.

Backup running back Damien Rhodes started for Reyes against Boston College, but sustained a knee injury in the first quarter and couldn't return. Pasqualoni then turned to strong safety Diamond Ferri, who managed 141 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

The Orange, however, hope no further personnel miracles are needed as both Reyes and Rhodes should be available for the postseason.


BY THE NUMERS: 4 -- Losses Syracuse suffered during the regular season to bowl-bound teams -- Virginia, Purdue, Florida State and West Virginia.

GAME OF THE YEAR: Syracuse 38, Pittsburgh 31 (Nov. 6) -- The Orange needed two overtimes to beat the Big East's BCS representative in the Carrier Dome. TB Damien Rhodes accounted for all 25 yards on Syracuse's game-winning drive and capped it with a 2-yard touchdown. Rhodes delivered 103 yards on the ground, while fellow tailback Walter Reyes added 123.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: TB Walter Reyes vs. the Georgia Tech run defense -- Reyes is strong, tough and productive -- when healthy. He ran for 856 yards, but missed the final two games of the season. Head coach Paul Pasqualoni believes Reyes should be ready to play against Tech.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know even from high school I didn't get to finish my season the way I wanted to since we ended up losing in the semifinals for the state tournament. It's really a great opportunity to have a dedicated coaching staff and an even more excited team to go into the last game of the season and prepare for a win." -- Syracuse captain Matt Tarullo, on the postseason.


BOWL AT A GLANCE: Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech, Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Dec. 21

PLAYERS TO WATCH: SS Diamond Ferri -- The senior turned in one the season's most impressive performances, while playing three positions. He rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns, returned an interception 44 yards for a score and made six tackles in a 43-17 win over Boston College on Nov. 27. He also returned punts.

QB Perry Patterson -- The sophomore has completed 147 of 255 passes for 1,632 yards and six touchdowns (against nine interceptions). Patterson is the question mark and must do a lot to prove he can lead this team into a high-intensity situation.

PRO POTENTIAL: TB Walter Reyes -- Syracuse's second-leading all-time rusher averaged 100.0 yards per game during the regular season. He delivered 856 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns.

INJURY IMPACT: Reyes (shoulder) missed Syracuse's final two games, but should be ready for a postseason appearance. TB Damien Rhodes (knee) left the Boston College game (Nov. 27) in the first quarter and didn't return.

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