Tomorrow, the Syracuse football team has a chance for one of the biggest wins in recent program history as the Orange host Florida State with a chance to improve to 3-0. And given Syracuse has actually been a bit of a hot choice among the talking heads, and FSU is a bit down this year, the Seminoles seem like an opponent the Orange can, in fact, take down.
Obviously, the Orange have won bigger games in the not-so-distant past. Clemson rolled into Syracuse hoping to make a National Championship run and left with an L just last year, and Dino Babers got his first signature win with a defeat of Virginia Tech the year before.
But this one feels a bit different.
This one feels like momentum could conceivably start building for the Orange. Sure, we’ve been here before, getting excited after that Clemson game last season, and Virginia Tech the year before. It’s felt like we were about to turn the corner on both occasions, only to have the rug yanked from under us.
Obviously, a lot of that has to do with the fact that Eric Dungey went down with injuries not long after either game.
Still, there is reason for optimism. Outside of one abysmal quarter in the season opener at Western Michigan, the Orange offense has been clicking pretty well. Naturally, you can’t take a lot from the Wagner game given the level of the opponent, and it’s concerning that, against WMU, our receivers outside of Jamal Custis were non-existent.
And yes, the defense still has holes, which Florida State is going to try to exploit and run through with Cam Akers tomorrow in the Carrier Dome. But the Orange have a chance, and if they get the win tomorrow, it could snowball into the following week when Syracuse plays UConn – a game that, I think, we can all agree is almost certainly a win. Getting to 4-0 would be pretty amazing considering we haven’t been 4-0 to open a year since 1991 when Marvin Graves was slinging it around on opponents. That season ended with a January 1 bowl win over Ohio State, by the way.
The key for Syracuse is going to be getting an early lead. While the Orange certainly have the kind of quarterback who can put his team on his back and lead them from behind, if Syracuse can get out to a 7-0, 10-0, or even 14- 0 lead, it would get the crowd energized. When the Dome crowd is energized, the Loud House lives up to its name and becomes a weapon for the players to feed from. Just ask Clemson.
The Orange also have to win the turnover battle, because despite having a pretty high octane offense, the defense… leaves something to be desired. Florida State has the talent to take advantage, so if you’re going to get into a shootout, you want to fire your shots first and can’t afford to give away any scoring chances.
It will be interesting to see what the vibe in the Dome is tomorrow, and how the Orange open the game. The early going will more than likely dictate how things are going to play out, and this time, at long last, for real this time I swear… we might finally be on the verge of turning the corner.