So we might be dealing with a cold November.  Virginia and Virginia Tech are a combined 5-8 with their Thanksgiving weekend showdown likely determining which school heads to the St. Petersburg Bowl–if they’re lucky.  Thank goodness for the Commonwealth colleges in the CAA:  James Madison and Richmond battle amidst the backdrop of ESPN’s College Gameday this Saturday.  The 7-0 Dukes are led by ex-Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee, who’s simply passing for 270 yards per game while running for 99 yards a contest.   Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta ranks second in the conference in passing yardage and efficiency…and the Spiders lead the league in turnover margin (+9).  Waiting in the wings after this weeks showdown?  William & Mary, who came within 6 points of upsetting Virginia while boasting the CAA’s #1 rusher in Kendall Anderson (118 yards per game).  In a year where both ACC institutions could find themselves home for the holidays, we could have three teams advance to the FCS Playoffs if everything lands just so.

Alma Mater Update– yeah.  So the 3-0 Syracuse start was an Orange Mirage…as the team is 3-3 with three games over the next month against ranked teams.  Instead of dreaming of a potential Pinstripe Bowl banner, SU nation has to figure if Scott Shafer is the right guy to lead this program.  He’s 13-18 in two-plus years at the helm–and is 0-8 against ranked teams with none of those losses coming by fewer than 10 points.  One is not unrealistic about 10-win seasons…but progress is necessary.  You don’t want to hang on to a failed regime longer than necessary–as a private school in the northeast takes longer to climb out of a crater than public schools in the south.  But you didn’t bail on Dick MacPherson after a 12-20-1 start, and he got you into the Sugar Bowl four years later.  On the bright spot, Saturday’s tailgate was everything one could ask for:  the crew sporting blue and orange caps, #44 jerseys and orange earrings enjoyed more than their share of brats, beverages, potato salad and pumpkin cupcakes.  Yes, it was discouraging to fail to produce offensively in the second half.  And of course, it was aggravating to not be able to stop the Cavaliers from scoring the last four times they had the football.  But for one afternoon it was nice to not worry about deadlines, live hits and sending sound…enjoying good times with Orange family and friends.  Bye the way, it’s 4:58…

Virginia beats Syracuse 44-38 in triple overtime.  Is the season about to be salvaged?  They might be 2-4 but their losses are to teams that are a combined 20-6;  each was ranked heading into last weekend’s action.  Coach Mike London’s team faces a remaining schedule that’s a composite 21-17–not as daunting but when you haven’t beaten North Carolina or Virginia Tech this decade, a bowl may still be a pipe dream.  Cavalier Congrats– Taquan Mizzell notches 58 yards rushing and 10 catches…while Matt Johns came up huge on an 88-yard gametying drive in the final minutes of the 4th quarter.    The defense kept the Orange out of the endzone in the second half… and forced stalled drives in their end twice before intermission.  Cavalier Concerns– two turnovers led to 14 Syracuse points.  One of the seven penalties was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in overtime against Eric Smith that placed the ball on the 12 and a half yard line for the Orange;  another was a targeting penalty against Zach Bradshaw that pushed Virginia’s drive start back to the 40.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30pm against North Carolina (Tar heels are 5-1 and 2-0 in the ACC after routing Wake Forest 50-14).

Virginia Tech lost at Miami 30-20.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  A second ACC loss in three weeks?  With Duke and North Carolina already separating themselves from the pack in the Coastal?  Is there any hope of a bounceback 8-4 campaign or are we stuck with a 6 or 7 win season in Blacksburg?  Hokie Highlights– Travon McMillan rushes for 99 yards while catching a touchdown pass.  Andrew Motupuaka paces the defense with 10 tackles (one for a loss).  A.J. Hughes averages 49.5 yards a punt.  Hokie Humblings– the offense converts just 3 of 10 third downs and turns the ball over four times (leading to 13 Hurricane points).  The defense fails to generate a takeaway.  Special teams are held to minus yardage on punt returns and under 18 yards per kickoff return.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30pm against Duke (Blue Devils are 5-1 and 2-0 in the ACC after routing Army October 10th).