Counting down the readers’ top 10 favorite moments of Syracuse sports in 2012
10: Ryan Nassib sets almost all major single-season and career quarterback records
The career touchdowns list is the only Syracuse quarterback list that Nassib does not head. He owns the records for most passes, completions and yards, and his 3,748 yards of total offense in 2012 are good for the highest single-season total in SU history. His 68 career touchdown passes are just nine short of Donovan McNabb’s Orange and Big East record. Nassib is also second in career total offense with 9,215 yards in his four years under center at SU.
9: Men’s soccer to Sweet 16
After a three-win 2011 season the Orange was voted second-to-last in the Big East preseason coaches’ poll. Then a team welded together by long-suffering seniors and highly touted freshmen went 5-3 in conference play before nearly upsetting then-No. 7 Notre Dame in the Big East quarterfinals. The Orange squeaked into the NCAA tournament despite the loss, though, and upset then-No. 11 Cornell in the first round. The run continued in Richmond as Louis Clark’s 108th minute drive found the corner of the net and sent SU to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. The Orange nearly made it to the Elite Eight, only falling to Georgetown in the regional semis on penalty kicks.
8: Women’s lacrosse first national championship game
For more than 50 minutes during the national semifinal against top-seeded Florida on May 25, it appeared as though Syracuse would have to wait at least one more year for its first national championship appearance. But the Orange rallied back from a seven-goal deficit in the second half to win in overtime and advance to the final. There, SU was reacquainted with the stall tactics that have made Northwestern one of the most successful programs in all of college sports. The Wildcats used that strategy to come up with an 8-6 victory over Syracuse, but simply reaching the game was a major milestone for the Orange, which begins the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in the country.
7: Football becomes bowl eligible with win over Missouri
Down three with less than two minutes to go, Syracuse needed to go 81 yards for a touchdown to win its sixth game and become bowl eligible. Ryan Nassib hooked up with Alec Lemon four times to span all 81 yards and give the Orange a go-ahead touchdown. Two plays into Missouri’s ensuing drive Corbin Berkstresser threw an interception to seal the 31-27 victory for SU and clinch its second bowl appearance of the Doug Marrone era.
6: SU announces Big East exit
Syracuse announced it agreed to a deal with the Big East that allows the school to leave the conference for the ACC in July 2013. The move means SU will leave a year early, as the conference requires a 27-month exit period. After negotiations, the athletic department agreed to pay $7.5 million to leave early. The $2.5 million more than conference bylaws require effectively bought the Orange an extra year in the ACC. Six more teams have announced their departure from the conference since. Texas Christian agreed to join before leaving without playing a game.
5: Football clinches share of Big East championship
When Louisville knocked off Rutgers on Nov. 29, Syracuse clinched a share of the Big East championship. A 7-5 record meant the Orange had little shot of reaching a Bowl Championship Series game – as turned out to be true – but a share of its first conference championship since 2004 was still a monumental moment for the Doug Marrone era at SU. With Syracuse leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference the Orange now has momentum heading into its new, more difficult conference.
4: Boeheim No. 3 in all-time wins
On Feb. 8, Jim Boeheim passed Dean Smith to become the third-winningest coach in Division-I history with 880. And it couldn’t have come against a more fitting opponent. Kris Joseph scored a career-high 29 points including a game-winning 3-pointer as Syracuse knocked off Georgetown 64-61 in overtime. Boeheim has won 16 games since then, putting him four wins away from becoming the only third coach with 900 wins and just six victories away from matching Bob Knight for second on the all-time wins list.
3: Football upsets Louisville
SU hosted the then-No. 11 Cardinals on Nov. 10, beating them to the tune of 45-26. The victory began a three-game winning streak with which SU finished the season to become bowl eligible. It was a historic day for the Orange. Alec Lemon’s nine catches and 176 yards with two touchdowns launched him up to fifth on SU’s all-time receiving touchdowns list, and Ryan Nassib became the Big East’s career completions leader, ending the senior-day upset with 738.
2: Men’s basketball’s 20-0 start
There are only so many firsts for Jim Boeheim, but last season’s undefeated start was the best in program history. The Jan. 16 71-63 win against Pittsburgh let the 2011-12 Orange pass the 1999-2000 squad for best all-time start. It was also Boeheim’s 876th career win, tying him for fourth all-time with former Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp. The following Saturday, Fab Melo’s suspension was announced. He missed the Notre Dame game in South Bend that evening and SU lost 67-58.
1: Men’s basketball in Elite Eight
The Fab Melo-less, No. 1-seeded Orange overcame a nail-biter against No. 16 UNC Asheville in its NCAA Tournament opener before wins against Kansas State and Wisconsin brought SU to within one game of the Final Four in New Orleans, where the Orange won the national title eight years ago. But Ohio State proved to be too much in the Elite Eight, emotionally ending the SU careers of Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph and SU basketball’s winningest season ever.
– Compiled by Jacob Klinger and David Wilson, asst. copy editors, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
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