After the Syracuse football upset of No. 2 Clemson Friday night, I think “sorry, but we got it wrong” is something a lot of sports writers are saying (or maybe just thinking and not actually saying, though, because we like to be right and try to be right for our readers).
But all bets were off this weekend as the Orange topped the Tigers in thrilling fashion (if you’re a Syracuse fan, that is). And, to be honest, it is kind of good that we were wrong on this one—it was a much better game to watch than the 41.25 to 17.375 Clemson blowout victory the Fizz staff average prediction suggested it would be. (And I do write for a Syracuse sports blog after all, right?)
The funny part, though, at least for me, is that I was one of the people giving Syracuse a chance! Here’s how Syracuse beats Clemson, I said. Did I think it was actually going to work out that way? My 48-13 Clemson prediction suggests otherwise. But it happened!
The game could have easily gone the other way, but Syracuse played an excellent game that will be remembered for a long time.
It came down to this:
The Orange was able to string drives together against Clemson. SU was able to move the ball down the field better in this game than it has in a long time. The offense completed plays when it needed to. Syracuse picked up yards on the ground in short yardage situations and completed big pass plays in dire situations.
Eric Dungey was able to hit receivers down the sidelines, and the Orange wideouts were able to exploit the Tigers’ coverage in order to catch the ball and hold onto it.
There were many penalties on Syracuse on big plays that slowed SU down a little, though. Two notable ones were the passing touchdown that was called back in the third quarter as well as pass interference called on the Orange after a 2nd and 20 pass for a first down that instead wound up leading to a 3rd and 19, then a 3rd and 33, then a 4th and 41.
Clemson did get good field position to open multiple drives, but the SU defense was able to dampen the Tigers’ production.
Clemson missed two field goal attempts within 40 yards, distances that should be easily covered, especially by the second-ranked team in the county. It’s hard to predict what could have happened, but had Clemson made those two field goals, it is possible it would have been Syracuse down three points in the final minutes of play.
Clemson did not have one passing touchdown. In fact, the Tigers only had two touchdowns all game, and one came off a Dontae Strickland fumble that was recovered and run back by the Clemson defense.
Yet, Syracuse led at the end of every quarter. As each passed, the ultimate upset appeared more and more likely.
At halftime, Dino Babers—who usually answers one or two media questions relatively quickly and then runs into the locker room—used the oppertunity with the microphone that was broadcasting to all the Carrier Dome speakers to speak to the Syracuse fans, telling them he and the team needed them and their support through the rest of the game.
In the end, it was those fans who got to celebrate one of Syracuse football’s biggest victories in program history right there on the field with Babers and the players.
So, we were wrong this time. But don’t worry. We plan to be right again next week.
Published: David Edelstein