Friday night was a moment in Syracuse history which won’t be forgotten in a long time. It was one of the best SU sports moments in recent memory. It may very well be the flashpoint of the next great era of SU football. Many old school SU fans were taken back to the day inside the Dome in ’84 that Coach Mac and the Orangemen stunned top-ranked Nebraska. Where does this upset rank in SU annals? Let’s count it down. Note: We are not listing the greatest wins in program history (’59 Cotton Bowl, McNabb over Miami 66-13, West Virginia ’87), these are merely the most unexpected.
5) Syracuse overcomes #8 Virginia Tech in 3OT, 2002
The last time SU beat a top 10 team before Friday night. The final was 50-42. It took three OTs do pull the trick inside the Dome. The Orange was just 3-6 going into that game, having even lost to Temple a few weeks earlier. No one expected the Orange to get a win. It took 3 OTs to do it, but finally Coach P’s 4-8 SU team did it.
4) SU destroys #10 Louisville, 2012
Ryan Nassib and the offense racked up more than 500 yards, and the previously unbeaten Cardinals got crushed 45-26 at the Dome. Charlie Strong’s squad was 9-0 coming into the game, and would eventually beat up the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. An underachieving Orange squad, which was just 4-5 coming into the game, took out its frustration on one glorious afternoon. The ease with which SU dismantled a 9-0 team puts it above the VT win.
3) SU beats defending national champ #10 Penn State, 1987
The Orangemen were 5-0 before their matchup vs. the #10 Nittany Lions. Most still did not take them seriously because none of their wins had come against ranked opponents. Not only did SU win, but it put 48 points up in a 48-21 drubbing. That would be twice as many points as any team scored on Penn State in the regular season. Joe Paterno’s teams were never blown out. This win made the country believe in the ’87 Orangemen.
2) Syracuse knocks off defending national champion #2 Clemson, 2017
Clemson was 23.5 point favorites and looked to be either the best or second-best team in the country, and a lock for another CFB Playoff. Syracuse had lost to MTSU a few weeks earlier. No one saw this coming.
1) SU stuns #1 Nebraska, 1984
Still arguably the greatest moment in program history, the only time SU has beaten the top team in the country. At the height of the Huskers ’80s dominance, a plucky, scrappy Orangemen team shocked the world and set in motion a golden era of SU football. For context, SU lost to Rutgers 19-0 the week before. Yeah, shocking. The upset by which all Syracuse upsets will forever be measured.