In the NFL, there is a huge emphasis on performance off the bye week. But the same can be applied for college football. Syracuse has a full two weeks to prepare for its matchup with a reeling Florida State team. With the Orange searching for two wins to secure a bowl for the first time, a win over the Seminoles would be huge, especially with two home games remaining. This year is Dino Babers sixth as a head coach and he has been extremely good off of bye weeks.
In Babers first season with the Panthers, he handily beat an 18th ranked Eastern Kentucky team 24-7. Granted it was an FCS ranking, but still impressive nonetheless. The next year, Babers had the same success. He smashed Austin Peay 63-7. Both of these wins of course wouldn’t have been possible without a stellar quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo spearheaded those EIU teams.
When Babers got his shot against FBS opponents, it was a lot of the same. The Falcons beat Akron 27-10 on the road in year one under Dino. Then in Babers’ second season at Bowling Green, they crushed a bowl-bound Ohio team 62-24. That second year beatdown was, once again, lead by a star quarterback. This time, it was Matt Johnson, who threw for almost 5,000 yards and 46 touchdowns that season. Now, Johnson is an offensive quality control coach with the Orange.
Year one at SU was much different off a bye. Babers faced national runner-up Clemson, who ranked third in the country. The 54-0 thrashing the Tigers handed may have fueled the Orange’s upset this season. This is an unusual circumstance for Babers. It’s safe to say he never faced a team as good as Clemson in his entire head coaching career. Along with that, a bye week doesn’t prepare you for your starting quarterback to get knocked out early in the game.
All of this adds up to a 4-1 record with the lone loss coming to the defending champs. And Babers doesn’t just beat teams. He demolishes them. His average margin of victory off the bye is 32 points. Syracuse couldn’t catch Florida State at a better time. FSU is fresh off of a 35-3 loss to Boston College. Babers has blown out teams in his second seasons off the bye. With the way the Seminoles have been playing that trend could continue.