Picture if you will...
A Syracuse football team that's of no major significance.
An opponent that comes into the Carrier Dome undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the nation.
A year earlier, said opponent had held Syracuse to single-digit points in an easy victory in their home stadium.
A betting line that favored the visitor by more than three touchdowns.
Such were the circumstances in 1984 when the No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers came to the Dome and such are the circumstances Saturday when the No. 1 Clemson Tigers comes to the Dome.
Back in 1984, the No. 1 team left with a shocking loss. Saturday, well...we'll see, won't we?
I know, I know. You haven't seen anything out of this Syracuse team to suggest they're capable of shutting down Clemson's offense or doing much of anything against the Tiger defense, especially if you assume Eric Dungey won't be playing (Ed. - Which he will not).
But this is college football, after all, where "stranger things have happened" isn't just a saying, it's a matter of truth.
It's interesting to look back on that Nebraska victory at times like these. What's usually lost in the lore is that Syracuse didn't suddenly become great again after winning. In fact, the rest of that season was pretty mediocre (6-5 record). It was followed by two more seasons hovering in the middle (7-5 and 5-6). 1987 kinda came out of nowhere and all of a sudden Syracuse was a national power again.
So if lightning strikes and magic happens this weekend, it'll be something to celebrate and the kind of result we'll talk about for decades to come. But the Nebraska win doesn't just remind us of how great of an upset it was. It also reminds us how much work was still left to be done afterward.
This year's squad already got a taste of that with the LSU game earlier this season. The Orange hung tough and made a game of it against one of the top teams in the nation and the Heisman favorite. But within a few weeks, after a couple bad SU losses, no one outside of us even remembered that it happened.
The big victory isn't the big win. It's when you succeed after the big win.
The odds and Syracuse's own history against elite teams tell us that the Orange will almost certainly lose on Saturday. In fact we lose by 40 I don't think many people will be too surprised. Losing by less than 20 might be considered a moral victory by most.
But, hey, "stranger things," right? At least that's what we'll tell ourselves until it's clear otherwise.