It was readily apparent early in the season this would be difficult to stomach. From injuries to ugly performances, the Orange were swimming upstream and the rest of the ACC were logs floating with the current. The loss to Liberty was humiliating, not necessarily because of the caliber of the opponent. The Flames have been ranked for much of the season. Instead it was a wakeup call because of the way it happened. Liberty, a recent FCS program, manhandled the Orange at the line of scrimmage and ran roughshod over the defense.
What would that mean for the rest of the season when the quality of talent in the ACC would only increase? It meant bad things. Very bad things, man. Louisville came into Friday night’s affair with only two wins. It left with a 30-0 shutout. The Cardinals 13-0 lead late in the first half was not back-breaking until they went 51 yards in less than a minute and Malik Cunningham scored with :30 on the clock. That 20-0 halftime lead looked like 100-0 with the way the Orange offense has struggled.
Historically speaking this will be one of the worst passing efforts in program history. Jacobian Morgan and Rex Culpepper combined to throw 6/16 for 45 yards and an interception. For an offense that once billed itself “Orange is the New Fast,” things look decidedly very slow. The season has been over for awhile. NC State will likely hand the Orange a pitiful 1-win season, a record that would make Greg Robinson blush. The larger effects are more interesting.
What happens to the goodwill that Dino Babers had garnered in ’17 and ’18 from many corners of the fanbase? Most understood that SU was in rough straits when he took over the program. Doug Marrone and Scott Shafer had tried to sledgehammer SU to respectability, but Babers promised a modernization for a school that needed it. But Babers upset of Clemson at the Dome and magical 10-win season in ’18 seem like distant memories. Yes, there were injuries this season, and they cannot be discounted. Tommy DeVito and Andre Cisco were arguably the two most important players to the Orange. Losing both was devastating. But the season was a debacle even with those two healthy and in uniform.
Syracuse has scored fewer points than any team in the ACC, and yet is the one of the few that has even played 8 games. The Orange have scoring totals of 0, 6, 10, 13 and 14 this season. If Babers is an offensive guru he’s got a lot to prove in ’21. The Orange don’t have the resources to pay his buyout, so he’ll be back next year. For the 4th time and 5 years Syracuse is one of the worst teams in the ACC. and ’18 did not prove to be a turning point for the program. It was an anomaly.
The football season can’t end soon enough, but the questions have only begun.