Orange Fizz


Unbeaten, Unrivaled, and Unreal: SU’s Destiny Is In Its Own Hands

Credit Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

On Saturday morning, I wasn’t thinking about getting an early spot inside the Dome to watch Syracuse decapitate Wagner College. Instead, I moseyed on over to a fan-run tailgate just outside the stadium to film a news package and gauge the mood. While I was there, a bunch of Syracuse football fans made pleasant chit-chat about the team, and many of them shared the same Paul Rudd-esque sentiment with me. 

“Who would’ve thought?”

“Not me.”

Perhaps not the Orange, either. At 5-0 and No. 22 in the AP Poll, SU is one of just 16 remaining undefeated teams in the FBS, along with perennial forces like Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia. The view downwards from Syracuse’s tightrope, suspended in thinly rarified air, is dizzying. However, the fact remains that ‘Cuse sits just one game away from bowl eligibility.

The challenge and sight to be seen are how Dino Babers and company secure that sixth victory.

Syracuse‚Äôs remaining opponents present a much taller challenge than the glorified tackle dummies who staggered over from Staten Island on Saturday. SU‚Äôs 59-0 obliteration of Wagner made you wince to watch despite its historically convincing nature, and Athletic Director John Wildhack would be well-advised to save everyone the embarrassment and schedule an FCS team that‚Äôs won this decade for ‚ÄòCuse‚Äôs next tee-shot game. 

Despite their rollover, the Seahawks did come to town at an opportune time not just to serve as sacrificial lambs, but to give SU a chance to get some of its main contributors healthy. That factor is critical ahead of a ranked matchup against NC State and subsequent tests against Clemson, Notre Dame, and Pitt over a four-week gauntlet. Defensive starters in Ja’Had Carter, Alijah Clark, and Derek McDonald now have the chance to heal up during an idle week Рalong with running back Sean Tucker.

“We really wanted to have a clean game…I thought we got close to it in a lot of areas, although there [were] some mistakes out there.” (Dino Babers Postgame, 10/1/22)

One of those mistakes Dino might be referring to is his mind-boggling decision to leave in Tucker for the second half‚Äôs first drive in a 49-0 game. The predictable result was a frightening injury that Tucker seemed to shake off, but it‚Äôs par for the course for a coach who continues to step on strategic rakes at brutal times. Babers deserves credit for the team‚Äôs turnaround, but his smarminess with the media for preseason doubts minimizes legitimate concern over a squad that is the ACC‚Äôs most penalized and has gotten away with most of its mistakes. 

That‚Äôs the condition SU faces ahead of its biggest tests. Clean up the errors, mental and otherwise, or it won‚Äôt have a great shot to beat any one of its late October opponents. If SU can grab hold of its late-game magic one more time – and likely do it on the road – it‚Äôll go bowling for the first time in four years. 

Destiny is now squarely in Syracuse’s hands with seven tries to grab hold of it. If SU truly wants to party like it’s 1987, now is the time to firmly grasp its goal Рand do it sooner rather than later.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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