The Syracuse University football team is going to miss Matt Grothe, in a way.
The South Florida quarterback went out for the season Saturday, tearing an ACL in a 59-0 win over Charleston Southern. I’m sure – I know – that the Orange didn’t want see Grothe hurt, but his absence from the lineup when the Bulls visit the Carrier Dome Oct. 3 will significantly increase their chances of winning.
Grothe can run and he can throw, and the last three seasons he’s gone off on the SU defense like a Roman candle – nine touchdown passes, a bale of rushing yards and a couple of rushing touchdowns. He’s been almost uncontrollable. He is the Big East Conference’s all-time yardage leader, having passed Pat White, the former West Virginia dynamo.
SU hasn’t beaten South Florida – a team that most Orange fans just a few years ago knew nothing about other than it is located in the southern part of Florida - in four chances, and none of the games have been close. That should be different this time around, even if replacement B.J. Daniels is supposed to be pretty good. I’m not saying a win, necessarily. I’m saying a close game. Certainly, Saturday’s win over Northwestern proves the Orange are capable of playing well.
Of course, SU has to get past Maine next week. I thought that might be a problem until the Black Bears lost to Albany Saturday. Remember, though, strange things can happen. Back in 2004, Maine defeated Mississippi State 9-7. That was not a good Mississippi State team, but the Bulldogs did win two SEC games that year, over Florida and Kentucky.
Here’s the thing, if SU takes care of business against I-AA (or FCS!) Maine, the Orange will be 2-2 when South Florida comes to town. A win that day, and SU would be over .500 for the first time since 2006, when they won three in a two to go 3-2. Could happen.