USC opponent preivew: Syracuse Orange

Coach: Doug Marrone

2010: 8-5 (4-3 in the Big East)

Returning starters: Eight (offense), five (defense)

After being picked to finish second to last in the Big East preseason media poll in 2010, Syracuse surpassed expectations, notching eight wins en route to reaching the Pinstripe Bowl — its first bowl game in six years.

Coach Doug Marrone, now beginning his third season, remains optimistic about this year’s team with the return of junior quarterback Ryan Nassib following a fantastic sophomore campaign, where he threw for 2,334 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Although the offense only averaged 22.2 points per game a year ago, it figures to get better this season with many — including Nassib and junior running back Antwon Bailey — gaining valuable experience during last year’s surprise season.