South Florida serves up Boca beatdown on Syracuse

SU football beat down in Boca Raton

The error-plagued Orange fell 45-0 in the Boca Raton Bowl, solidifying their second consecutive 6-7 season.

SU Football Boca Bowl
Tight end Dan Villari (#89) struggles to find any open receivers during the Boca Raton Bowl game on Thursday.

BOCA RATON, Florida — With a new era looming, Syracuse football was hoping to end its 2023 season with its first bowl victory in five years.

Unfortunately for the Orange, this wasn’t in the cards. 

South Florida dominated from the jump against Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl, crushing the Orange 45-0 on Thursday night.

“Execution-wise, really poor,” said interim head coach Nunzio Campanile about his team’s performance. “I got to do a better job coaching them and having them prepare, but I did feel like they fought all throughout the game.” 

This was a historic loss for Syracuse being the first ever shutout during a bowl game an largest bowl game defeat since losing 61-6 to Alabama in the 1953 Orange Bowl.

A huge problem for the Orange was the mistakes both with penalties and special teams errors. 

Toward the end of the first quarter, junior safety Alijah Clark picked up a fumble and took it to the house. But because of an illegal blindside block, the touchdown was negated, taking off the only Syracuse points of the night.

Later in that possession, the snap on a 45-yard field goal attempt by sophomore kicker Brady Denaburg was muffed and returned by the Bulls, shifting a potential 7-3 score to 14-0. 

That wasn’t the only scoop and score of the day, as USF’s Tremel Logan took the second Syracuse fumble 61 yards, giving USF a 31-0 lead at the half, completely wiping the energy out of the Orange sideline.

Syracuse had four total turnovers compared to the lone USF turnover, which gave them no chance to complete the drives they brought into Bulls territory.

To add to the Syracuse blunders, USF’s freshman quarterback Byrum Brown had an impressive day. 

Brown went 18-for-25, throwing for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also picking up 65 yards on the ground.

SU Football Boca Bowl
Max Freund
SU Donovan Brown (#87) attempts to complete a catch under pressure from South Florida’s Jayson Littlejohn (#0) during the Boca Raton Bowl on Thursday.

For Syracuse, Garrett Shrader being unable to play left the Orange with a tough decision, ultimately deciding to start the game with redshirt sophomore tight end Dan Villari and sophomore running back LeQuint Allen under center in a wildcat formation.

“We were pretty much in a situation where we had to do what we had to do, and those guys are two of our best players so we felt like that was gonna give us our best chance to win”, said Campanile about the decision to start Villari and the wildcat offense.

After a few unsuccessful possessions, the offensive keys were handed to freshman Braden Davis, who had thrown one pass all season prior to Thursday’s game. 

The entire Orange offense was abysmal throughout the contest, putting up 20 rushing yards and 159 yards of total offense, which resulted in a goose egg on the scoreboard.

The program will hope to move on quickly from this poor showing as the Fran Brown era has officially begun. Syracuse has already had their best signing day in the modern recruiting era. 

Several of Syracuse’s recent transfers and recruits watched from the sidelines including former Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord who is expected to lead new head coach Fran Brown’s squad next year.

Campanile highlighted D.A.R.T, something Brown has already started to establish within the Syracuse culture, which stands for Detail, Accountability, Relentlessness, and Toughness. 

As the new era of football on the hill makes its mark, a lot of the futures of some current SU game-changers are in question. 

SU Football Boca Bowl
Max Freund
LeQuint Allen Jr. (#1) hands off the ball to running back Juwaun Price (#28) on Thursday.
SU Football Boca Bowl
Max Freund
Interim head coach Nunzio Campanile looks over potential plays during Thursday’s game.

“That ain’t what I’m worried about right now,” junior linebacker Marlowe Wax said when asked about his future past this season. As the team’s leading tackler and second in sacks, Wax has been considering whether to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.

While the blowout would put a damper on the bowl experience for some, it seemed the sting of the defeat wouldn’t linger for others in the Syracuse locker room.

“I can tell you we’re never gonna feel like this again,” Villari said. “So I’m excited for next year.”