Syracuse took #5 Clemson down to the wire, but not every one believes it was a moral victory or validation for questions surrounding the 6-0 start. CBS Sports writer Shehan Jeyarajah lamented the chance SU let slip away.
He chose to make Syracuse one of his losers in the Week 8: Winners & Losers column:
“Frankly, the Orange wasted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Saturday in Death Valley. Clemson entered the day with a 36-game home winning streak dating back to the 2016 season. The Tigers have won six of the past seven ACC championships. Syracuse has not won a conference title since 1998 as a member of the Big East. The Orange led 21-7 in the first half on the road and 21-10 entering the fourth quarter, and everything was lined up for the program to take control of the ACC Atlantic race. Unfortunately for Syracuse, Clemson backup quarterback Cade Klubnik came in the game and scored 17 unanswered points to pull away for the win. Syracuse had three separate drives to win the game and couldn’t deliver. The Orange are still having a historic season and should remain in the AP Top 25, but this loss will hurt for a while.” – Shehan Jeyarajah
I’m not sure you can qualify this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since four years ago we watched almost the same exact scenario play out (backup Clemson QB comes in for dramatic defeat of the Orange at home). Certainly being the team to break Clemson’s remarkable home winning streak would have been a great feather in the cap of this team. And staying in the driver’s seat for the ACC would have been absolutely enormous. But I have a tendency to believe if you watch ACC football for long enough, every team eventually wins the annual game of Plinko to go to the championship game.
Since SU joined the conference every school in the Coastal division has appeared in at least one ACC Championship Game. That includes such stalwarts as Duke (2013), Virginia (2019) and Georgia Tech (’09, ’12, ’14). It’s much tougher on the SU side since Clemson and FSU have monopolized the division, but more than likely we’ll all see Syracuse appear in an ACC Title Game in our lifetimes (unless you plan on croaking soon). Last year the ACC Championship Game featured Pitt and Wake Forest.
The issue is that the defense played well enough to win, and the refs made some (ahem) questionable calls. But SU can hold its head high. That was a terrific effort from a 6-0 team on the road that we expected before the season to have another losing campaign.