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SU plays final Big East regular-season game today


SYRACUSE — The Syracuse University football team has already locked up a .500-or-better record and a bowl berth this season.

But in today’s regular-season finale against Temple, the Orange (6-5 overall, 4-2 conference) is looking to end its Big East tenure with a record above .500.

Syracuse, which will join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, has 75 wins and 75 losses all-time in the Big East.

The Orange was a charter member of the conference when it began in 1991.

Today’s game, its final Big East battle, is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, and will be televised on ESPN2.

“Having grown up in the Northeast, having chosen a school to attend in the northeast, to represent northeast football, you’re talking to someone who is very old school when it comes to northeast football,” said Syracuse head coach and alum, Doug Marrone.

“For me, it’s a little bit difficult to see everything that’s gone on, but my time in the Big East has been great. They’ve been very good to me as far as communication and being up to date with what‘s going on. It’s been, obviously, an honor and a privilege to compete in this conference against the coaches and the players. I have a great deal of respect for them. And I look forward to the challenge of going to the ACC, a conference that I have been a part of before during my career,” he added.

If the Orange wins, it would stay in position to potentially tie for the league championship and finish with its best conference record since 2001. The team was picked to finish seventh in the eight-team league in the annual preseason media poll.

With a loss, the worst Syracuse could finish is fourth.

When it was 2-4 two games into the conference schedule, that seventh-place finish looked like a possibility.

But the Orange went on to win four of its next five games, two by scoring last-minute, go-ahead touchdowns.

“This team has done a nice job of sticking together,” Marrone said. “They realized what had gotten them in trouble early on in the year, why we have lost those games. Turnovers, penalties, obviously things that we all have gone through. We’ve gone through a level of frustration, and they’ve taken all those things and really worked on becoming better.”

Syracuse’s current run has taken its toll. Today’s matchup will end a stretch of eight straight weeks with a game, and four games in 21 days.

Over half of the starters appeared on the injured list earlier this week, but on Wednesday, Marrone said he expected everyone to be available for today’s game.

“It’s difficult. I don’t want to miscommunicate and woo is me and here we are and, here’s the coach trying to create some excuses. No. We’re ready to go,” Marrone said.

Temple’s style of play won’t help the banged-up Orange. The team runs the ball over 65 percent of the time, and plays a very physical game.

The Owls (4-6 overall, 2-4 league) are coming off a 63-32 win over Army last Saturday. Senior Montel Harris ran for a Big East-record 351 yards and seven touchdowns, just one score away from the NCAA record. They attempted just four passes in that game, and average less than 17 throws a game.

“I think they just knock you off the football. They’re extremely physical up front,” Marrone said. “Those kids are tough, tough kids and they just knock you off the ball. It’s not anything magical.”

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