Start me up: After 23 years, Raiders come back to Dome to renew New York rivalry

first_img Comments Published on September 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img When Doug Marrone speaks about Colgate, he does so with the utmost respect. Respect that comes from being a part of a tradition that embodies football in upstate New York. From the tradition the Raiders have with SU. But it goes beyond that. The most recent memory of Syracuse-Colgate was Oct. 24, 1987. The Orangemen rolled to a decisive 52-6 victory at the Carrier Dome, the prelude to what would eventually be an 11-0-1 undefeated season and Sugar Bowl championship. But the game will likely be remembered because of the fights and player ejections that ensued. The game has since been remembered as a gridiron brawl. SU subsequently ended its rivalry with Colgate, and the two teams haven’t faced each other since. Now 23 years later, Syracuse (2-1) will renew that storied rivalry Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN3), when Colgate (1-1) makes the trip to the Dome — a place where it has never won. The memories remain for those familiar with the history of either football program. For some, the wounds have healed. For others, Saturday’s contest will be a celebration of what was once the most heated football rivalry in upstate New York. ‘A lot of people are going to come from Colgate to our game,’ said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, who is familiar with the rivalry as a former SU player. ‘I expect them to have a great turnout, and we should have a great turnout. … It is a good game. It is a good game for Central New York.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text The series is the second oldest in Syracuse football history, dating back to 1891. Colgate won that game, 22-16, and currently leads the series with a record of 31-29-5. But the Raiders haven’t ever won inside the Dome. And it hasn’t won a game in the series since 1950 — 14 consecutive losses. Still, there’s history there. There’s a lot of bad blood. But now, there’s respect. Even today, SU players know that. They’re taught that by those who have come before them, and they embrace it. ‘This being the second biggest rivalry in Syracuse history, it means something,’ wide receiver Alec Lemon said. ‘I haven’t witnessed a Syracuse-Colgate game, so I don’t really know the history behind it. But it’s kind of big for the alumni and Coach Marrone, so we’re going out and playing for them.’ As Marrone and members of his staff who were close to the program during the days of the rivalry have emphasized, Saturday’s game will be another step in restoring the proud traditions of Syracuse football. Another step in bringing back what has been lost over the years. And Colgate is a part of that. Even 23 years removed. ‘Every team has my respect,’ running back Antwon Bailey said Thursday. ‘(But) because of the history and the rivalry and what the coaches have been telling us, it gives us a different level of respect for those guys.’ Syracuse will be looking for its best start since 2003, when it started 3-1 before losing 51-7 at Virginia Tech. The Orange is hoping to use this game as an opportunity to enter the bye week with some momentum before opening Big East play in two weeks. But before looking too far ahead, Bailey and his teammates have some business to take care of. They don’t want to be the team that ends SU’s winning streak in the series with the Raiders. ‘One thing that sticks out is that they lead the series,’ Bailey said. ‘That’s something that we’ve got to get back on our end, and it starts with this game on Saturday. There’s no taking this game lightly.’ Yet it might be easy for the Orange to see this as ‘just another FCS team.’ The Orange dropped 38 points on Maine last weekend, and that was after a slow start. Colgate has allowed an average of 37 points per game. To Monmouth and Furman. Syracuse proved last week it could play a horrendous first half of football at the Dome against Maine, another FCS team, and still come away with a three-touchdown win. It’s something that would tug on any team, especially before a bye week. Syracuse safety Phillip Thomas doesn’t see things that way. He’s been well-briefed in the history and importance of Syracuse-Colgate. For Thomas and his teammates, it’s the tradition and the history of the rivalry that makes overlooking this game impossible. ‘Coach Marrone, he respects this series,’ Thomas said. ‘And with him as our coach, we respect this series, too. We’ve learned a lot about the history of this series and (Colgate) has our respect, and we’re looking forward to being a part of this rivalry. ‘With all the tradition between Syracuse and Colgate, it’s a good series. … Because we respect Colgate, we feel like we have to approach this week like any other week.’ And by approaching the game like every other week, the Orange puts itself in a position to not only get to 3-1 heading into the bye week, but also restore something that had fallen by the wayside. Something that was lost from its storied past. ‘They’re a team from up the road, so that’s just another thing we’re thinking about as we renew this series, or rivalry if you want to call it that,’ Bailey said. ‘It’s a big deal. It’s definitely a big deal. … We want to be the best team in New York, so that’s definitely in the back of our minds.’ Naturally, a lot of that comes from Marrone. The respect for Colgate is exuded in the reverence Marrone has when referring to his down-the-road counterparts. That’s why Marrone speaks about Colgate with respect. Even now, Marrone respects the way Colgate coaches. The way Colgate plays. The way Colgate fights. Not just then, but now. ‘They have a great system, they really do,’ Marrone said. ‘We have to be very sound in what we do. They play extremely hard, they’re extremely well-coached, and they have an excellent system with what they do.’ Syracuse will be celebrating Legends Day at the Dome Saturday, honoring the 1984 Orangemen squad who shocked then-No. 1 Nebraska, 17-9. With that, several of SU’s past football greats will be in attendance. Many of them remember the Colgate rivalry from playing the Raiders in 1982. And it’s a rivalry that has been renewed — finally. ‘There are a lot of good things going on with Syracuse and Colgate,’ Marrone said. ‘It is Central New York.’ [email protected]last_img

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