The radio talk show guys were wondering what Syracuse’s 27-24 upset over Clemson on the night of Friday the 13th compared to in the Orange’s Carrier Dome history.
They were young post-game hosts, a former player from this decade and a radio station guy not far removed from his SU graduation. So their frame of reference was quite naturally limited to contests since Syracuse joined the Atlantic Coast Conference just a handful of years back, settling around the first time Clemson came to the Carrier Dome and the game actually was close.
The series has devolved into Clemson landslides since, both with Scott Shafer as head coach and Dino Babers’ initial year last season, when Clemson went on to win the national championship for Dabo Swinney.
I have more years watching Syracuse in the Dome, starting with my time in the press box and corner-section seats when I worked in the sports department at the big daily, and continuing to the season-ticket years with my dear wife Karen when Doug Marrone took over as coach and onward.
I thought about the night in total and shuffled through big victories past.
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The passion was there for both sides of the line of scrimmage. One corner of the stadium was filled with fans pulling for Clemson, and Tigers orange was sprinkled throughout the rest of the stadium, too. By the way, the attendance was announced at 42,475, the largest of the season at the Carrier Dome by far, but still some 7,000 below capacity. Against the defending national champions, a team still undefeated, that disappointed me.
There was plenty of pomp surrounding the play.
And, oh, the action between the sidelines.
Syracuse looked crisp from the start.
I had my iPhone 6s clicked to video to catch the touchdown for quarterback Eric Dungey and running back Dontae Strickland on the opening drive of the game.
From there, Syracuse had what it took to keep with the Tigers.
On offense, defense and special teams, they played up to what fans have been hoping for since Babers took over from Shafer before the start of last season. Clemson was able to tie the game, but Syracuse bounced back to regain control each time. The Tigers were never ahead.
It was thrilling football.
If Dungey stays healthy, I think he should be in Heisman Trophy talk before the start of next season. He’s that good of a quarterback.
When Syracuse ran out the clock, the fans reacted big-time.
The anticipation and celebration look like something fans have awaited for some time, do they not?
So I’ll compare this win to a pair of games I witnessed Wayback.
The first is the famous upset of Nebraska, which came in the No. 1 team in the country and had drubbed the Orange by 50-plus the season prior. Yet Dick MacPherson’s squad come up with a controlled, balanced game to shock the Cornhuskers. Todd Norley to Mike Siano sealed it in Orange history. I’ll credit it for Mac’s Mojo turning the corner into something special.
The second came a few seasons later, when Mac’s team throttled rival Penn State midway through the Orange’s magical 11-0-1 season. Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions had been the Eastern Independent thorn in Syracuse’s side since the twilight of Ben Schwartzwalder’s years, and Paterno enjoyed lording over Mac, AD Jake Crouthamel, the entire Orange Nation. Even-Steven scheduling? No, you come to State College twice to get one game at the dome …
And then Rob Moore caught a long TD pass from Don MacPherson to start the scoring parade, and the firehose had been turned on the internal demons. Syracuse believed in itself, totally.
I’ll admit there’s some wishful thinking in this comparison. Miami will pose a tough game on the road next Saturday. But now the Orange players should really know what they can put together.