The Syracuse team that took the field in September hardly resembles the one that has yet to lose in October, including pulling off an upset of defending national champion Clemson last week.
Dino Babers, miracle worker?
We’ll know for certain after the Orange (4-3, 2-1 ACC) take their talents to South Florida on Saturday to face No. 8/7 Miami (5-0, 3-0 ACC). If they pull off another upset of a Top 10 team, it would be just the seventh time an unranked team has done it in consecutive weeks.
“They have the athletes,” said Babers. “We’re trying to get athletes like they have, and we’re playing at their place. It’s going to be a difficult, difficult game.”
One of the three losses the Orange suffered in their first five games was at home to Middle Tennessee. They then struggled to defeat Pittsburgh 27-24 in another game at the Carrier Dome.
Babers said that upsetting the Tigers in a Friday night game carried added value because of the national attention it brought to the Syracuse program.
“Everyone sees you,” said Babers. “It’s a big moment. It’s a trending moment that everyone is watching. Social media is buzzing and everyone knows what is going on.”
Miami head coach Mark Richt said his players were watching Syracuse’s stunning win from the hotel they check into the night before home games.
“Obviously what happened last Friday was pretty remarkable,” said Richt. “When you think about what happened the year prior – I think they lost 54-0 to Clemson – then Clemson comes to their house and they come out with a victory, it’s just so impressive to have that kind of turnaround in that short of a time.”
The win over Clemson raised the campus profile of Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey even higher. Students surrounded him on the field and were chanting his name during a postgame TV interview.
He’s earned the BMOC status. He’s now passed for more than 2,000 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 400 yards and eight more TDs.
His favorite targets, Steve Ishmael and Ervin Phillips, rank No. 1 and No. 3 in the nation with 62 and 56 receptions, respectively. They have combined for more than 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns.
“I don’t have to explain anything to anybody about how good these guys are. It’s very evident,” said Richt.
Obviously, the Hurricanes aren’t too shabby, either. Miami has knocked off Florida State and Georgia Tech the past two weeks, rallying in the final seconds to remain unbeaten.
“We’re not at the point where we can just line up and impose our will on people. Obviously Florida State was a battle royale until the end, Georgia Tech a battle royale until the end,” said Richt. “We have to battle every week … I’ve said it before, I do think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier is now 6-0 as a starter and has passed for 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He can also run when needed and that may become an even bigger part of the UM game plan with tailback Mark Walton now out for the season after ankle surgery.
Travis Homer rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown in last week’s win over the Yellow Jackets.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
All times Central
Louisville at Florida State, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN
Pittsburgh at Duke, 11:20 a.m. CT, ACC Network
Boston College at Virginia, 11:30 a.m. CT, ACC Network
Syracuse at Miami, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2
Wake Forest at Georgia Tech, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU
- Miami (5-0, 3-0):Last Week – W, Georgia Tech, 25-24. The Impact – Darrell Langham’s miraculous 28-yard catch of deflected pass with 35 seconds left on fourth down set up ‘Canes for another late comeback.
- Clemson (6-1, 4-1):Last Week – L, at Syracuse, 27-24. The Impact – Bye week comes at good times for Tigers after QB Kelly Bryant suffered concussion in loss to Syracuse. The setback ended 11-game winning streak for Tigers.
- Virginia Tech (5-1, 1-1): Last Week – Idle. The Impact – Justin Fuente can get his 16th win with Hokies in less than two seasons, which would set program record. .
- N.C. State (6-1, 4-0):Last Week – W, at Pittsburgh, 35-17. The Impact – Wolfpack’s Nyheim Hines had pair of long TDs – an 83-yard run and a 92-yard punt return – and finished with 249 total offense.
- Virginia (5-1, 2-0):Last Week – W, North Carolina, 20-14. The Impact – Cavaliers have won last four, ended seven-game losing streak to UNC, and are off to best start since 2007. Bronco Mendelhall’s team one win from being bowl eligible.
6. Florida State (2-3, 2-2):Last Week – L, Miami, 24-20. The Impact – Seminoles struggling to put teams away, playing fourth straight game decided by seven or fewer points. Jimbo Fisher just hopes FSU has shot against Louisville, which won 63-20 a year ago.
7. Georgia Tech (3-2, 2-1):Last Week – L, at Miami, 25-24. The Impact – Yellow Jackets struggled again against a Mark Richt-coached team (Georgia, Miami), going 15-2.
8. Syracuse (4-3, 2-1):Last Week – W, Clemson, 27-24. The Impact – Orange beat another ranked orange-clad foe in October, taking down Clemson a year after beating Virginia Tech. Dino Babers’ defense allowed chains to reset on just 2 of 11 third downs.
9. Wake Forest (4-2, 1-2):Last Week – Idle. The Impact – The Deacs are plus-6 in turnover margin, which is second best among ACC teams, and lead the nation with 9.2 tackles for loss per game.
10. Louisville (4-3, 1-3):Last Week – L, Boston College, 45-42. The Impact – Cardinals’ season has unraveled as defensive woes continue and now Lamar Jackson & Co. head to Tallahassee, where a revenge-minded FSU awaits.
11. Boston College (3-4, 1-3): Last Week – W, at Louisville, 45-42. The Impact – Eagles survived attempted fourth-quarter rally by Lamar Jackson and pulled out first ACC win on Colton Lichtenberg’s 27-yard field goal.
12. Duke (4-3, 1-3):Last Week – L, Florida State, 17-10. The Impact – Blue Devils have followed four-game win streak with three-game skid but should find relief with Pitt visiting Saturday.
13. Pittsburgh (2-5, 0-3): Last Week – L, N.C. State, 35-17. The Impact – Struggling Panthers have won during their last four trips to Durham. But these Panthers aren’t those Panthers. Duke is still Duke, though.
14. North Carolina (1-6, 0-5):Last Week – L, Virginia, 20-14. The Impact – Tar Heels’ run of four straight bowl games is over without five-game win streak to end season. Hokies will crush those hopes on Saturday.
Louisville at FLORIDA STATE
Pittsburgh at DUKE
Boston College at VIRGINIA
Syracuse at MIAMI
North Carolina at VIRGINIA TECH
Wake Forest at GEORGIA TECH
Last Week: 4-2