Last week, before ACC play got underway, it was easy to write off this Syracuse team. A year ago, the Orange beat one of the four best teams in the country to go to 4-3 and then lost out to finish the season 4-8.
And with good reason. Syracuse just walloped Florida State, beating the three-time national champion 30-7 for their first victory over the Seminoles since 1966. It’s the first time ‘Cuse has been 3-0 since 2015.
The Orange play Connecticut on Saturday, winners by seven against Rhode Island this past weekend. The Huskies have a dismal 118-24 scoring record against FBS teams. Very conceivably the Orange could be undefeated through four games for the first time since 1991.
Is it time to start believing yet?
While there is evidence for hope, there also plenty of water to pour on this building fire. In 2015, the Orange began the season the same way, cratering in eight of the last nine to fail to make a bowl. Last year’s high followed by the crash to a losing record is also still fresh.
Eric Dungey’s health is not exactly 100 percent. Dungey had both a perceived shoulder injury throughout the FSU game and another concussion scare after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Seminoles safety Cyrus Fagan.
Quarterback health has been a defining factor in Syracuse’s recent football success. Thankfully sophomore Tommy DeVito has shown flashes of being able to keep the ship at least afloat in Dungey’s absence. DeVito scored his first rushing and passing touchdown of his career against FSU, proving that he can be more competent than back-ups in recent years.
Signs of promise
There are things to be excited for concerning this offense: the QB situation feels better, Jamal Custis is breaking out as a true number one receiver and the offensive line did a reasonable job of keeping a solid FSU defensive line at bay.
The defense also showed up, sacking Deondre Francois four times and hitting him a total of 16. Linebacker Kielan Whitner won ACC Player of the Week honors for his career day (11 tackles) and Chris Frederick came down with the Orange’s sixth interception of season; two more than last year’s entire season total.
So while there are niggling reasons to doubt the Orange’s ability to make a bowl, there is more hope than in 2015 when they were in the same position. This week, they even received a Top 25 vote for the first time since 2011. Even if the Orange win comfortably on Saturday, they probably won’t receive more votes (nor should they), but the hype train will keep rolling.
The last time they made a bowl was 2013. The same year the team they just dominated won a national title. Is it time to start believing yet?
It very well might be.
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