Usually a win over a team that was 1-3 in conference and .500 overall isn’t one that particularly stands out. But for Dino Babers and the Orange, it certainly did. Nobody is going to look back on the 2018 Syracuse football season and remember this win, but it certainly is one that should be remembered as a building block of what’s to come for the program under Babers reign.
This was a clear trap game for Syracuse. Everything set up against the Orange. First off, this was a conference road game. That alone has given the Orange fits in the Babers era. It was the first time SU beat an ACC foe since 2016 against Boston College. Along with that, the Demon Deacons were fresh off a season-high 368 rushing yards against Louisville. Wake Forest has multiple weapons on the ground, but Syracuse held them in check with just 159 yards on the ground.
This win also showed the payoff of one of Babers’ favorite sayings: “consistently good, not occasionally great.” That’s exactly what 2018 has been. In the past two years, if Syracuse was fresh off a big win then going on the road against a lesser opponent, they probably lose the game to turn off the fanbase. Not to mention that the calendar currently reads November, a month that the Orange is 0-8 in under Babers. But that isn’t the case with the 2018 Orange. They look different.
Right out of the gate, Syracuse had adversity on the road. Down 10-0 early on and Eric Dungey himself not picking up a single first down on the first three drives was concerning. Is this the return of the Dungey Orange fans wanted benched? Would DeVito come in to try the save the day? Nope. He figured it out enough to win, albeit looking ugly in the process.
But the offense wasn’t the only unit to step up. After getting punched in the mouth early on, SU’s defense recovered and only allowed 14 points in the final 51 minutes. This is the most underrated win under Dino Babers and Ryan Guthrie is looking like the most underrated defensive player Babers has had at SU. He was all over the field with a team-high 11 tackles to go along with 2 sacks and a pass breakup.
But maybe the thing that will get lost in the shuffle from all of this is the fact that by the time the latest College Football Playoff rankings come out this Tuesday, Syracuse football is all but guaranteed to be ranked ahead of Syracuse basketball by the time the under 12 minute timeout hits in the first half. It will be the first time that has happened since November of 2001 when SU football checked in at 14th and basketball came in at 18th.