On Saturday, Syracuse clobbered Colgate 65-0, the largest win in the Dino Babers era. But where does it stack up with Babers’ other season openers in terms of dominance, importance, and entertainment?
8. 2020: North Carolina 31, Syracuse 6
Baber’s lone loss to open a season is an obvious choice to take the last slot. The Orange actually trailed just 7-6 late in the third quarter, but that’s when the wheels fell off. This game kicked off a forgettable 1-10 season, and it was a warning shot for what was to come for SU fans.
7. 2019: Syracuse 24, Liberty 0
It’s hard to believe that an SU shutout would rank this low, but this game didn’t have a lick of entertainment value. Orange QB Tommy DeVito didn’t throw for any touchdowns, his completion percentage was under 50%, and he threw two interceptions. Syracuse scored once each quarter, nothing more. Given SU finished the season with a 5-7 record, the win didn’t push the Orange across the finish line to a bowl game either.
6. 2021: Syracuse 29, Ohio 9
The Orange should have beaten the Bobcats by a much higher margin. Ohio finished the season 3-9, including a loss to an FCS Duquesne squad. For some reason, SU had to keep it close. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Syracuse played the game at Ohio for some reason. The redeeming quality for this game was getting to watch Sean Tucker set a then-career high with 181 rushing yards.
5. 2017: Syracuse 50, Central Connecticut State 7
Who doesn’t love watching Eric Dungey account for over 350 total yards and five touchdowns? This was a game Syracuse was supposed to win, and Babers was happy to prove his team’s dominance by keeping the starters in for so long.
4. 2016: Syracuse 33, Colgate 7
Similar to the following year, Syracuse let the starters loose for most of the game. Dungey impressed with two passing touchdowns, including a 43-yard bomb to Amba Etta-Tawo. Moe Neal also got in on the scoring action with a 49-yard rushing score. While SU should have beaten Colgate by more, this game gets bonus points for being Babers’ first career win with Syracuse.
3. 2018: Syracuse 55, Western Michigan 42
Due to a big third quarter from Western Michigan, this season opener was much closer than it should have been. However, that had its upsides. The starters played the entire game, and fans didn’t leave at halftime like they often do in Week 1 blowouts. This duel featured the closest final score on this list, which helps it rank so high. It was also the first piece in the puzzle of a 10-3 season.
2. 2023: Syracuse 65, Colgate 0
This game was over before the end of the first quarter, but being the largest margin of victory for SU in over a half-century makes it unforgettable. Besides, getting to watch TEN different Syracuse players score a touchdown in one day might not happen for another half-century.
1. 2022: Syracuse 31, Louisville 7
It just means more when it’s a conference game, and adding the element of being an underdog makes a win even sweeter. Despite coming to the JMA Dome, Louisville was favored by six points in this season opener. Even the Fizz had its doubts, with over half of our writers predicting a Cardinals win. The Orange ignored the hate and dominated from start to finish, with the offensive trio of Garrett Shrader, Sean Tucker, and Oronde Gadsden shining together for the first time. This win set the stage for a 6-0 start and a trip to a bowl game, which easily puts it in the top spot.