Orange crushed: Defense letting 'Cuse down

Syracuse's record-setting defense -- and not in a good way -- and the Rutgers-Pitt showdown highlight this week's Big East notebook.

Updated: October 18, 2006, 5:59 PM ET
By Joe Starkey | Special to ESPN.com
About an hour before Syracuse's 34-17 loss at Pitt last season, first-year Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross spoke of how the rebuilding job at his school was beginning with defense.

"[Head coach] Greg Robinson has brought everything I've wanted as far as defense," Gross told ESPN.com on Oct. 22, 2005. "For me, the three guys that do the kind of defense we wanted were Pete Carroll, Greg Robinson and [Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin. I got one of the three guys. Just like at [USC], we started by building the defense. We want to make sure that we're the premier place to come to play defense."

Actually, Syracuse has become one of the premier places to play offense -- if you're the other team. The Orange defense is ranked 109th in the country, just below Northern Illinois and just above Tulane. Syracuse is 111th in rushing defense, giving up 202 yards per game.

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