It may not jump off of the page when someone scans Syracuse’s schedule and sees that they squeaked by the Pittsburgh Panthers at home on October 7. However, what the scoreline may not tell you is that it was actually Syracuse’s best and most complete game that they have played this season and one of the best under Dino Babers. For the most part, good football teams win because they do many things well, even if they do some things better than others. Last season, the Orange were all offense. For the most part this season, the offense and defense have failed to click in the same game for any sort of extended period of time. Well, both worked against Pitt.
The Orange put up 500 total yards of offense and out-gained the Panthers in every major offensive category. This is not necessarily entirely new but if the Orange had been out-gaining teams in the past it was because they put up huge numbers and the defense gave up slightly less huge numbers. Well, Saturday the Orange actually played a good, old-fashioned, football game. The Orange also were, most importantly, able to close a game out, with Eric Dungey expertly leading a final drive to kill the clock.
Now, the Orange face an entirely new monster in the Clemson Tigers. The defending National Champions have not missed a beat this season, despite losing Deshaun Watson to the NFL. Syracuse will have to take everything they did well against Pitt and amplify it to the nth degree. Syracuse did not turn the ball over last week and this will be the minimum that Orange can do to have any sort of a chance in this game. Even the most optimistic fan is likely picking the Tigers to beat the Orange Friday night, but if you are looking for a reason for optimism, look no further than the most recent, and most complete game, that the Orange have played.