If you left your home to do something else after watching the Syracuse Orange go down 14-0 in the first two minutes of this afternoon's game against the Clemson Tigers, I wouldn't have necessarily blamed you. Following a two-play, 75-yard Clemson scoring drive and a fumble on SU's first offensive play that led to another Tigers score, it looked like the no. 1 team was going to cruise at the Carrier Dome.
But then Syracuse caused a fumble and Ervin Philips dashed into the end zone for a 28-yard score shortly thereafter. And then another fumble! And QB Zack Mahoney got himself on the board as well with a 14-yard TD. Half way through a wild first quarter, the Orange were suddenly tied and what looked like a blowout became a game once again.
Clemson would correct things by early in the second quarter, as Deshaun Watson put up the expected record numbers (20-for-26, 266 yards and two scores through the air) and the Tigers made it a 14-point game once again. But despite zero luck moving the ball through the air, Syracuse was still able to keep it that way, and found itself down 31-17 at the break.
No, this is not a victory for the Orange to be down by two touchdowns. Considering the injuries on both sides of the ball (Jordan Fredericks has also left the game with an upper body injury today) though, they've fought pretty well. I didn't expect it, and you didn't either, I bet. But Syracuse has fought and clawed their way into what's at least an entertaining matchup if nothing else.
The onus is still on this team to win, however. If for no other reason than to keep bowl eligibility alive. They'll need an incredible upset to do so, but as Sean's discussed, stranger things have happened. Had Steve Ishmael's big gain not been called back, or if Cole Murphy's first field goal hadn't been blocked, or if Riley Dixon's long pass had connected downfield (it still drew a key pass interference call), this game could potentially be tied. That's insane and unlikely on the one hand. But SO college football on the other.
Big second half ahead for Syracuse as they try to erase this deficit and maybe move the ball a little bit better through the passing game (just 27 yards throwing so far). Add that to some more help from the secondary, and at the very least, it could be a fun one to see through to the end.
This is your second half thread. G'ORANGE!