Syracuse‚Äôs come-from-behind win over Virginia Tech was as unexpected as it was impressive. Here are a few key numbers that helped lead the Orange to a surprising victory at Lane Stadium.
Garrett Shrader‚Äôs 410 total yards were the primary driver behind a solid day for the Syracuse offense. Apart from another end-of-half snafu at the Tech goalline, SU executed its gameplan well. Shrader was a major part of that plan and had the best day of his collegiate career so far, throwing for 236 yards and running for 174 more on 22 carries. If that wasn‚Äôt enough, Shrader also accounted for five touchdowns.
How good was it? Shrader‚Äôs five scores marked just the fourth time since 2000 that a Syracuse player accounted for that many in a game. He joins a short ‚Äúwho‚Äôs who‚Äù of 21st century SU offensive stars. The others to match that feat are former running back Walter Reyes (2003 vs. Notre Dame), wideout Amba Etta-Tawo (2016 at Pitt), and Sean Tucker (last month against UAlbany).
Shrader‚Äôs strong play was indicative of an all-around successful day for the Syracuse offense. There wasn‚Äôt much to nitpick or second-guess: SU‚Äôs offense exploded against VT in a rare way. For just the ninth time since 2000, Syracuse finished a game with 500 or more yards and zero turnovers.
‚ÄòCuse pulled off the feat for the first time since 2018, when they racked up 500 and kept the ball safe against NC State (more on that game in a moment). Of those nine times since 2000, yesterday‚Äôs game was the first time the Orange had this good of a road offensive game since 2012, when they scraped past USF 37-36 thanks to strong days from quarterback Ryan Nassib and running back Jerome Smith.
Interestingly, games this good for SU have mostly come against conference foes. Only three of the nine opponents on that short list were non-conference – UNC in 2003, USF in 2012, and Wagner in 2013. The rest on the list are current ACC members who were in the Big East at the time (BC in 2001, Louisville in 2012) or actual conference opponents when both Syracuse and its opponent were in the Big East (UConn in 2012).
10 and 7,301
These numbers look jarring next to each other, but I pair them together for a reason. They both represent the end to long, frustrating streaks for Syracuse.
10 represents the number of consecutive October games Syracuse had lost before Saturday. Dating back to 2018, Syracuse went 0-for-October in 2019, 2020, and in its three prior October games this year against FSU, Wake, and Clemson. Anyone‚Äôs best guess is likely that SU just hasn‚Äôt been ready to transition from easy non-conference games into ACC play in years past, but it‚Äôs hard to explain 10 straight L‚Äôs any way you slice it. By beating the Hokies, Dino Babers and company are finally off that schneid.
The other, much larger number is the number of days it‚Äôs been since Syracuse won in Lane Stadium. 7,301 days passed between SU‚Äôs second-to-last trip on October 27th, 2001 and October 23rd, 2021. On that day in 2001, SU shocked the No. 5 ranked Hokies 22-14 behind a 102-yard rushing day from James Mungro and a sparkling defensive effort led by future NFL star Dwight Freeney.¬†
A day prior to that 2001 game, the United States government signed the PATRIOT Act into law. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm Real‚Äù by Jennifer Lopez led the Billboard charts, while Barry Bonds had hit his record-breaking 71st and 72nd home runs just three weeks prior. Needless to say, it‚Äôs been a hot minute since the Orange have won in Blacksburg.
Finally, it‚Äôs worth mentioning just how seismic Syracuse‚Äôs game-winning touchdown was. When Syracuse found itself down 36-27 after a 47-yard Tech score with 5:36 to go in the game, things looked bleak. After the score, ESPN’s win probability model gave the Hokies a 95.2% chance to win the game. Being down two scores with five minutes left is usually a death sentence.
However, the Orange didn‚Äôt fold. Even after a touchdown pass to Courtney Jackson and an ensuing defensive stop, Tech still looked to have the game in hand against Syracuse‚Äôs run-first offense. A Shrader incompletion with 58 seconds to go in the game gave Tech 87.8% odds to win.
However, the big swing came on the Alford touchdown pass. Tech‚Äôs odds went from 67.5% to Syracuse owning a 99.9% chance to win in one play, or a 167.4% swing. It‚Äôs an appropriately miraculous figure to bookend what might have been a season-saving day for the Orange.