Let's face it, 2013 was a strange year for the Syracuse Orange. Two losses to start the season took away any momentum that previous years had built up, and subsequent games against the likes of Wagner and Tulane, two wins mind you, didn't really invigorate the fan base.
But when all hope looked lost, or was just forgotten about while everyone counted the days down to basketball season, SU quietly won some important games. Even though most of the nation assumed the Orange would ultimately come up short of six wins and a bowl trip. Wins at North Carolina State and Maryland and that comeback win against Boston College at the Dome all led to a Texas Bowl win against Minnesota -- a successful season even if it didn't totally feel like it.
So which game was the turning point, the most important, the best? The entire TNIAM staff, save for me, picked Syracuse's win over those Eagles. And really, it's probably the only choice, isn't it? The entire season was on the line, a win and a bowl berth was likely, lose and the season would end with three straight losses, two of those in the Dome against fairly middling foes. And the drama surrounding the game was actually overshadowed by the in-game theatrics. Terrel Hunt putting the team on his back, Josh Parris' TD grab with time waning, Alvin Cornelius doing Alvin Cornelius things.
So why didn't I pick it? Well, partly to be different, no doubt, and also because Syracuse's win at Maryland left such a big impression on me. That's right, I picked Syracuse 20, Maryland 3 as the best game of the season for the Orange.
There weren't any pregame made-for-TV stories, and the game absolutely lacked the in-game fireworks of the Boston College contest. But, with the stink of the Georgia Tech game still lingering like...well, the stink that can only come from losing 56-0 to a pedestrian Georiga Tech team, a win at Maryland was no gimme. Bowl eligibility at that point was no gimme. Which is exactly why I remember that dominate win, even with Hunt's struggles and a fairly ugly overall game, against the Terps all the more.
It was a little unexpected, a lot ugly, and perfectly Syracuse.
Of course, I see why the Boston College may carry more weight, or even that unbelievable win over Minnesota in Houston. Or, well, any of the seven wins, really. You probably could make a case for any of the victories. Now, I only put a few in the poll but if you have another W in mind just leave it in the comments because 2013 was a bit odd. My "Best Game" or the TNIAM staff's "Best Game" may not be Syracuse's best game to you.
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