Syracuse football fans really wanted to be in the big-time Saturday afternoon in the Carrier Dome.
For the Orange’s first ACC game ever, some 49,000 folks — the biggest Carrier Dome crowd in a dozen years — roared to make it the loud house, better to make it hard for Clemson’s offense to hear or even think as it stood at the line before a third-down play. The fans filled the dome with big noise when Syracuse’s offense came through, carrying Jerome Smith along to the end zone on that 66-yard run in the first half and putting an extra jolt in Prince-Tyson Gulley’s ‘s 28-yard TD run to start the third quarter.
In fact, when Gulley’s score pulled Syracuse within 35-14, it indeed felt like a real pressure cooker. Emotions were high in the hope that the Orange could come back against the No. 3 team in the land.
Of course, those big home team moments were too few and that comeback was too short.
Call it too much speed and precision from Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and any number of running backs. Boyd’s 20-of-27, 455-yard performance surely will resonate long enough for Syracuse fans to pull for the talented and wise Tigers QB to be the guy marching up to receive the Heisman Trophy come this December.
And there’s the rub.
Most of the big-time in that big-time atmosphere up on SU’s hill was delivered by Clemson, now 5-0 and hopeful of running the table in the Atlantic Coast Conference and being selected to play in the BCS national championship game.
The mission for Syracuse now is to turn a 49-14 loss into the impetus of raising the big-time meter every time out in the dome.
That means going on the road this coming Saturday and beating North Carolina State. That could happen. The Wolfpack fell to 3-2 after losing 28-13 at Wake Forest.
Speaking of those Demon Deacons, Wake is up next in the dome, Nov. 2.
Syracuse has a trip to Georgia Tech and a bye week before that.
What will happen to the big-time atmosphere if the Orange wins both to carry a 4-3 record into the dome come November?