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Committee has tough decisions to make

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first_imgCollege football is obsessed with records. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it isn’t a good one either. At times, it can cloud someone’s vision and allow one to overlook the talent and current play of a team just because of its record. Other times, focusing on records completely makes sense. I know what you’re thinking; she’s probably talking about USC. I am, but Penn State also falls into the same discussion. After beating Michigan this past Saturday, it seems like Ohio State is a lock for the playoff. Last week, both the AP and the College Football Playoff rankings mirrored each other. This week, the AP has Ohio State sitting at No. 2, so one could reasonably guess that the Buckeyes will hold that spot for the CFP.So that looks good for the Big Ten, right? Wrong. The Big Ten is in an interesting situation. The Buckeyes are sitting at No. 2 in the nation with an 11-1 overall record, so that means they’re playing in the conference championship, right? Wrong, again. Facing off for the conference title for the Big Ten will be Penn State and Wisconsin. Both teams are sitting at 10-2, and Penn State has a bit of an advantage with its win over Ohio State thanks to a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown toward the end of the fourth quarter. The CFP Committee always talks about how they like conference champions, but with Ohio State as the likely candidate for the second spot in the playoff, that goes against what they typically like. If Penn State ends up beating Wisconsin, they will have a viable shot at the playoff, because Ohio State’s only loss was at the hand of the Nittany Lions. It’s a mess, and the committee could have one heck of a headache going into the release of its rankings on Sunday. While a 11-2 conference champion looks great and is more or less a dream team for the committee based on rankings alone, it isn’t really better than an 11-1 team with quality wins throughout the season. What makes this whole Big Ten debacle even more interesting is that the first protocol — according to the CFP committee selection protocol — is winning a conference championship. The other three are strength of schedule, head-to-head competition (if possible) and outcomes of common opponents (without considering margin of victory). Looking at the committee’s protocol from their standpoint, a Wisconsin win will make their lives easier. Now, what about USC? Its chances of making the playoff are virtually impossible. Just imagine how many people would freak out if a three-loss team made it to the playoff. While the Trojans won’t see themselves playing in one of the semifinals, they could still see themselves playing at the Rose Bowl, somewhere they haven’t played since 2009. USC has played in the most Rose Bowls (33) and has won the most Rose Bowls (24) of any college program. With the Trojans back in the national discussion and a number of analysts, such as Kirk Herbstreit, saying that USC is the one team that no one wants to play right now, other than Alabama. He also made the argument that if the CFP is looking for the best teams that USC should be higher. Vegas even has the Trojans as the No. 3 team in the country. The Trojans’ success makes the case that the playoff should be expanded. An expansion would allow for teams like USC that started their season rough but have completely flipped the script to close out the year. The Trojans that upset No. 4 Washington 26-13 and have handily outscored their rivals 81-41 are nowhere near the team that started its season 1-3 with losses to Alabama, Stanford and Utah. If the committee wants the best teams playing for a championship, a team like USC fits the bill. Through their eight-game win streak, the Trojans have beaten everyone except Colorado by double digits. A surging USC team following a shaky start brings back memories of Pete Carroll’s 2002 Trojans. That season, USC started out 3-2, but finished 11-2 on the back of senior quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer performed so well that he caught national attention and won the Heisman Trophy, USC’s first quarterback to do so. The Trojans finished No. 5 in the BCS and beat No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, 38-17. There are a number of similarities between the 2002 season and this season, such as dominating victories over UCLA and Notre Dame and a quarterback garnering national attention. If the similarities continue, the Trojans could see themselves in the Rose Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl. On top of it, USC would set a foundation for national championships for years to come, cementing it as a national powerhouse once again. Jodee Storm Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “The Storm Report,” ran Tuesdays.last_img read more

Syracuse’s behind-the-cage offense jolts 4-game winning streak

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first_img Published on April 24, 2019 at 10:31 pm Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Graham Nate Solomon toed the yellow line on the back side of the crease, scanned the defense through the twine of the net and stepped forward to his right. Coming across the goal line, Navy’s defense didn’t pick Solomon up as he turned to goalie Ryan Kern and dropped a shot into the back of the net. By initiating offense from behind the crease, Solomon gave Syracuse the lead and unlocked a new offensive style. “He’s a threat to dodge and he’s got his head up and he’s finding open people now,” SU head coach John Desko said of Solomon. “So I think it’s nice to have the attack clicking this time of year.”Though Solomon took the chance himself to open things up against Navy, No. 4 seeded Syracuse’s (9-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) attacks have changed the Orange’s offense in recent weeks by initiating more offense — both scoring and assisting — from behind the net. Since losing to Notre Dame, the Orange closed the season on a four-game win streak in which they’re averaging 2.9 more goals per game than in the first eight. The new scoring element has balanced a previously one-dimensional offense days before SU travels to face No. 5 seed North Carolina (7-6, 1-3) for Thursday’s ACC Tournament play-in game in Chapel Hill.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEva Suppa | Contributing Digital DesignerFor the first eight weeks of Syracuse’s season, its offense relied heavily on midfielders dodging and creating open looks from the top of the offensive zone. The Orange’s most common look was Brendan Curry or Jamie Trimboli dodging down outside of the alley and looking to shoot or pass to an attack waiting near the crease. And more often than not, opposing defenders stayed with the dodging midfielders.The lack of space, though, ultimately hurt the Orange’s offense. With Bradley Voigt posted in front of cage and SU’s other two attacks — Solomon and Stephen Rehfuss — typically hugging the post, close defenders filled the space around them while easily sliding to dodging midfielders up top. When the Orange’s offense truly stalled, Solomon came to the midfield and played with the ball from there, so Syracuse could have an attack in control. Desko noticed the offensive stagnation and tweaked the team’s approach. SU’s new offensive impetus puts the ball in the care of Solomon and Rehfuss most of the time. The Orange trust their upperclassmen attacks to read the whole field from behind the cage, dodge out to one side and look to pass or shoot. “So now if you leave the inside, (Voigt)’s open,” Desko said. “And if you don’t, then you don’t slide to those guys behind. It just opens the whole offense up.”Solomon did some of this earlier in the season, to moderate success, but was largely shut off when he tried to dodge and score for himself. Now, Desko said, Solomon is seeing the field better and looking to pass more. Through the first eight games, Solomon had six assists. He’s tallied seven more in the final four games of the regular season.Eva Suppa | Contributing Digital DesignerRehfuss, the preseason All-ACC selection, also struggled early. Through three games, he had one assist. After the loss to Notre Dame, he’d tallied 14 points to date. He’s scored 18 more during the Orange’s four-game win streak.Rehfuss’ reemergence coincides with SU’s shift to a play style that suits him better because he’s free to use his vision to find cutting midfielders and Voigt inside. He’s also gotten healthier after catching the flu at the beginning of the season and playing through the illness a handful of undisclosed injuries. With less than a minute left in the first half against Navy, Rehfuss dodged left from behind the cage, turned to his right and left and got cut off. He picked his head up saw Voigt by the crease. As defenders hacked, Rehfuss flipped a pass to Voigt, who cradled and bounced a shot in with one second left on the shot clock, tallying one of Rehfuss’ seven points (two goals, five assists). “I’m sure he’s feeling better about himself,” Desko said of Rehfuss. “It’s obviously showing in his performance. I think we’re getting some dodges off him, getting some good assists off him.”Syracuse’s offense has taken off since emphasizing play behind the cage. Not only has the Orange scored more goals in its four wins to end the season, but done so more efficiently. SU’s shooting at a higher percentage, scoring on 7.725 percent more of its shots amid the four-game win streak. Solomon and Rehfuss have shown they can score from behind the cage. If they’re covered well, they can dodge from behind and feed Voigt inside or skip a pass to a cutting midfielder. And, SU’s deep midfield can initiate if the right matchup arises. “We were almost one-dimensional to start the season, dodging from up top,” Voigt said. “And as soon as Stephen and Nate started dodging from behind, it’s helped us out tremendously and it gives a whole new threat.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more