It was far from pretty. Number two Clemson showed Syracuse why the Tigers are ranked as highly as they are and are in contention to return to the College Football Playoff. The 54-0 final showed every bit of how bad of a game the Orange played as well as each break it couldn’t catch. From Dungey’s injury, to the three interceptions, to Cole Murphy’s botched 30 yard field goal, nothing went SU’s way all game long. But a Syracuse bowl appearance is still in the cards. With three games remaining, the Orange needs to win at least once to be in consideration and twice to solidify bowl status.
So far, SU has only proved it can be occasionally great, as evidenced by its upset win over Virginia Tech. The team needs to be consistently good down the final stretch with three very good teams left on its slate. The three picks in the Orange’s loss against Clemson were very uncharacteristic of the team. Quarterback Eric Dungey has been intercepted in each of the last four games after throwing it to the other team in just two of the first five games. Even with Dungey’s status up in the air for the remainder of the season, the Orange has to avoid beating itself, because other teams will take advantage like Clemson did.
Defensively, the Orange had a solid showing for the first two drives, but everything went south after that, mostly against a second string quarterback instead of a Heisman candidate in Deshaun Watson. The secondary could not contain the Tigers’ deep ball, which Syracuse needs to do against potent offenses for the remainder of the season. The big play has been SU’s Achilles heel all year, but when the team is at its best, Syracuse has been solid defensively and forcing short drives.
A bowl is not out of the question for the Orange, but the team needs to follow Dino Babers’ “consistently good” model for the remainder of the season.