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Big East Football Notebook: Marrone won't take credit for Syracuse turnaround

| Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 7:08 p.m.
Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, right, congratulates wide receiver Alec Lemon (15) after Lemon pulled in a touchdown pass during the first quarter against Cincinnati in an NCAA college football game at Nippert Stadium, Saturday Nov. 3, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)

Syracuse coach Doug Marrone blamed himself when his team was 2-4 and stumbling through a dark cloud of turnovers and penalties.

You really didn't think he was going to take credit for the Orange's current 4-1 resurgence that has vaulted them into bowl eligibility, did you?

“The assistant coaches have done a nice job of hanging in there, and the players have done a good job of believing in what we are talking about,” he said.

But someone had to pull the trigger Saturday night when Syracuse defeated Missouri of the SEC, 31-27, on the strength of a fourth-and-10 conversion late in the fourth quarter.

The play was a 17-yard completion engineered by the Big East's best pitch-and-catch combination — quarterback Ryan Nassib (309.5 passing yards per game) to wide receiver Alec Lemon (98.9). One snap later, they connected again — from 19 yards — for the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left.

“I would like to be able to take the credit for it,” he said.

But Marrone did admit that he gauged the wind speed at Missouri's Memorial Stadium and decided not to try a potential game-tying, 53-yard field goal on the play that turned into the first-down completion.

“We weren't going to be able to make that,” he said. “That wind was pretty good.”

Tough road

Syracuse (6-5, 4-2) has played the toughest nonconference schedule in the Big East, with four games against schools from BCS conferences (Northwestern, USC, Minnesota and Missouri).

“We learned a lot about ourselves, early on,” Marrone said. “We were able to make some adjustments and do some things that helped us down the road.”

Now, Syracuse is one of only four Big East schools assured of going to a bowl. Temple and South Florida aren't going, while Pitt and Connecticut have fading hopes.

“For the team just to hang in there and keep pushing and seeing the results when you don't turn the ball over just confirms what we are trying to do in coaching,” Marrone said.

No quit in Temple

Temple running back Montel Harris scored seven touchdowns — one short of the NCAA record — and had 351 yards in a 63-32 victory against Army.

Temple had scored a total of 54 points in the four-game losing streak that preceded the victory against Army, which has lost 16 in a row to Big East teams.

“It was a statement win, a statement that we still fight,” Temple coach Steve Addazio said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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