I'm here today to tell you that in spite of all my dire warnings, the Syracuse Orange actually ended up giving the No. 8 LSU Tigers a run for their money in front of a loud Carrier Dome and national television audience.
I gladly accept my serving of humble pie and eat it willfully and gleefully. SU proved the value of having LSU on the schedule in 2015, caught the eye of recruits and acquitted itself as a program.
Now comes the hard part.
Oh, you didn't think everything was fixed now, did you? Oh...you did. Oh...
It Was The Best-Case Scenario!
First of all, the best-case scenario would have been to win the game. Let's not forget that. As good as SU played, That said, as far as losses go, it was a pretty good one. A win would have catapulted things into another stratosphere. We'd have been the lead story all weekend. There'd be articles about SU football everywhere. The game definitely got people talking but, if we're being honest, this is the kind of game most college football fans around the nation will forget by next Saturday.
Furthermore, if Syracuse doesn't come out and smoke USF, that'll just drive home the perception that SU boxed above it's weight class for one game and then came back down to Earth. Momentum and consistency have been Syracuse's two biggest enemies in the last decade. Like the 1984 Nebraska win, you have to treat big games like this as building blocks, not events you can just point to and expect people to still care.
The Dome Was Rockin'!
Well, it was, but, I mean, let's be real for a second. The announced attendance was 43K, which is great compared to the previous three games, but compared to other times when a marquee opponent has come into the Dome, it's actually a little low (Clemson got 45K in 2013). Take away the 7K or so LSU fans in the building and you're left with 36K Syracuse fans/locals. The question is, how many of them come back for the next home game? And the next?
Recruits Saw How Good We Are And They'll Remember!
Sure. It's always great to have recruits interested and watching us compete with the big dogs. But do you think all those recruits just turned off their TV and decided, "All set, I'm going to Syracuse." No, of course not. The game, while a great flag to plant in the recruiting ground, is one of a million flags already planted there. And while we can say "we played LSU well" there's a lot of other schools that can say "We actually beat so-and-so." No one is going to commit to SU just because of this game, but it's hopefully the first of many things that accumulate.
This Team Is Going To Win 8 or 9 Games Now!
Maybe! I hope so! But why are you so quick to say the SU team that played LSU tough is the real SU team and not the one that almost lost to Central Michigan? That's a little convenient. More likely, Syracuse is a team capable of playing well enough to beat a top ten SEC squad, but also capable of laying an egg against a lesser team. It's unclear if we'll get this kind of outcome every single time. I know a lot of people want to go ahead and sharpie Eric Dungey in as the starter in 2018 but football doesn't work like that. He's still got a lot to prove against quality opponents. Plus, recent Syracuse football teams are notorious for playing to the level of their opponent game-by-game.
All of this isn't to say we shouldn't be proud. We should. The team played way above expectations and gave every inch of effort that could be asked of them. For a guy in his position, Zack Mahoney did worlds better than we ever could have hoped. Leonard Fournette aside, the defense held it's own. And LSU came away from the game feeling like they couldn't let up for a second in order to come away with a win.
It's way better than I expected. It's great news for the current status of the program. It bodes well for our chances not only this season but in the coming years.
But all of it means squat if SU can't follow-through.