Christmas came early in Central New York last week when Syracuse and Dino Babers reached a contract agreement, showcasing Babers’ commitment to the program and the university. Since Babers arrived in 2016, he’s slowly but surely delivered on his faith without evidence remarks. The Orange’s leap from four to nine wins this year gives followers of college football all the evidence they need.
Syracuse officially took the next step as a program this past fall, but Babers has been delivering big wins since the moment he walked on campus. Three of them stand out above the rest.
1. Stunning Upset over #2 Clemson on Friday the 13th
Undoubtedly the biggest win in Babers’ career. One that no one saw coming and officially put SU football on the map, even though the Orange didn’t win a single game after that in 2017. After this win, interest in the football program skyrocketed both locally and nationally. How could it not? The Orange knocked off the defending national champions and looked like the better team throughout the game. And oh yeah, Babers had a pretty good post-game speech as well. All of that makes this one of the biggest wins and upsets in the history of Syracuse football.
2. Breakthrough win against #17 Virginia Tech
On a similar note, the upset over the Hokies raised eyebrows across the country. Rarely does a first-year coach of a rebuilding program pick up a top-25 win in his first year. That’s exactly what Babers did. Wins like this help expedite the rebuild process and we’ve seen that come to life this year. Without this win, the Orange probably do not beat Clemson the following year. This was the first building block of many that have helped Syracuse become relevant again.
3. First win after the bye against North Carolina
This is the only one of the three that is even debatable. Without this win, who knows how SU’s season would have ended this year. The Orange were searching for their first win after the bye under Babers and on paper it looked like the Tar Heels weren’t going to get in their way. Then the game started, and a win was far from certain at halftime. Babers made the switch to Tommy DeVito at quarterback late in the game and boy did it pay off. Not only did that move give Babers his first win after the bye, but it set the tone for a successful second half of the season. Not all coaches make that decision. Not all coaches make SU Football relevant in just three seasons.