In a way, the Syracuse Orange's 16-6 loss to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday evening was a perfect microcosm of the entire 2014 season.
The Orange were presented with multiple breaks and situations that, if they could take advantage of them, they could have pulled off the upset. But they didn't. So they didn't.
The Orange took a 6-3 lead into the half thanks to multiple Tiger turnovers and stalled offenses on both ends. Down 9-6 headed into the fourth quarter, it still looked possible if only SU could find a way to capitalize on good fortune. But every defensive stand was followed with an offensive stall and every Clemson turnover was followed with a Syracuse giveaway and the Tigers' first touchdown of the game sealed the deal.
Here's the thing. We took a freshman quarterback making his second-ever start into Death Valley against one of the toughest defenses in the nation, so...it's something to keep in mind. Of course, knowing that, and knowing how winnable the game still felt in the third quarter, that doesn't make it feel any better.
Bless this defense for someone not strangling their counterparts on offense during timeouts. They played well, caused turnovers and bent but didn't break for most of the game. They did what they could and gave the offense plenty of chances. Very few of those chances were taken advantage of.
Perhaps this is a gripe for another time but the only thing more galling than the Syracuse offense was Clemson fans booing Syracuse player injuries. A lot of Clemson fans on Twitter told me that there is a "history" of teams faking injuries against the Tigers, which sounds like such a Clemson thing to think. Irregardless, it's a classless and tacky move. I listened to a lot of Clemson fans all week tell me how great their fanbase is, but, sorry, that's just shitty. If you're keeping score, our head coach telling your head coach to f*** off is bad, but booing an injured 19-year-old kid (who later left the field on crutches) is much, much worse. Shame on you.
We walked away from the Florida State loss feeling like there was something of a moral victory in it. On paper, I suppose you could say a 10-point loss in Death Valley is one as well. But I gotta side with Brent Axe on this one.
I can't compliment "moral" or "they were close" victories either. I just can't. Syracuse needs to prove they can win these games. Period.— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) October 26, 2014
Scott Shafer will be the first to tell you that excuses are for losers. And you know what, it's true. It's time to start winning games like this. Clemson's a great football team. But we could have won the game tonight if we didn't get in our own way. I'm getting tired of writing that.