|No. 16 Cincinnati can savor title vs Syracuse|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 28 November 2008 11:40|
As he shoved his way through the crowd and headed for the locker room after a 28-21 win over Pittsburgh last Saturday night, cornerback DeAngelo Smith enjoyed one of the oranges.
``I actually picked one up and ate it,'' Smith said. ``It tasted pretty good.''
The Bearcats (9-2, 5-1) clinched their first Big East title on Friday when Pitt knocked off West Virginia 19-15. They're headed for their first BCS bowl, most likely either the Orange or the Sugar.
5), providing their fans a chance to fling a little more fruit at Nippert Stadium.
Another victory would tie the school record of 10 and give fans a chance to get that rushing-the-field thing right. Thousands ran onto the field with a few seconds left in the game against Pitt, had to pull back for the last play, then stormed the field again while Pitt was finishing it off with a lateral play that went nowhere.
``It was crazy,'' defensive end Lamonte Nelms said. ``It was like an out-of-body experience, really. I didn't know how to react to it. The fans were running on the field, then they were running off the field, then there's oranges everywhere. It was like, 'What is going on?' It was really neat.''
Why such giddiness? This has never happened around these parts.
The Bearcats went 47 years between bowl appearances before they reached the Humanitarian Bowl in 1997. The school was attractive to the Big East because of its basketball program, one of the nation's best under Bob Huggins, and entered the conference in 2005.
Since then, the basketball program has wallowed under Huggins' successors - he was ousted in a power struggle with the school president - and the football program has risen to the point that coach Brian Kelly has to try to keep his players focused among the campus-wide giddiness.
ot of oranges on the field,'' Kelly said. ``There must have been an overrun on produce, because it had nothing to do with us getting anything but another step closer to a Big East championship.''
Now they have it in hand, like one of those oranges.
The Orange - the next opponent, not the bowl - could take an edge off the title celebration on Saturday. Syracuse is headed for an offseason of change, having already fired coach Greg Robinson, effective the end of the season. In its first game since the move was announced, Syracuse went to Notre Dame and pulled off a stunning 24-23 upset with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives.
``Know that this is going to be his last game, we'd just like to keep it going, go out with another big win,'' said quarterback Cam Dantley, who threw an 11-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds left in South Bend. ``We don't want them to win. We want to do our best to make them upset, just like we did to Notre Dame.''
That orange-filled celebration in Cincinnati last weekend also got the Orange's attention.
``I don't think they're expecting a lot from us,'' said nose tackle Arthur Jones, who had 15 tackles against Notre Dame. ``After they won the (Pitt) game, they stormed the field. They thought they had won it already. We've got another thing for them.''
vation it can get. The Orange rank last in the Big East in scoring points and giving them up. Their defense is last against both the pass and the run. History is against them, too - Syracuse hasn't won back-to-back road games since 2001.
All of that is part of the reason why Robinson is coaching his last game at Syracuse.
``They've just played a wonderful game, and if they really want to make a mark for the senior class, it's to follow it up with a fine performance,'' Robinson said. ``It's not easy.''
AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y., contributed to this report