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Three things we learned from Syracuse’s 31 to 17 win over Virginia Tech

Let’s break down the chaos.

Virginia Tech v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange (3-4) pulled off the school’s biggest upset in recent memory on Saturday, taking down the No. 17 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2) by a score of 31-17. The win was Syracuse’s first over a ranked team since a 2012 victory over No. 9 Louisville.

Here are three things we learned.

College Football is CRAZY

Oh sure, you probably knew this before Syracuse pulled off its biggest upset in years, but the Orange sure gave you one heck of a reminder. Just how shocking was Syracuse’s win? Let’s take a closer look.

Virginia Tech came into the game with a 4-1 record and ranked 17th in the country. Syracuse entered Saturday with a 2-4 record with wins over FCS Colgate and UConn. Virginia Tech averaged 39.0 points per game, while Syracuse averaged 25.7. Even including the Hokies’ early-season blowout loss to Tennessee, Virginia Tech still gave up, on average, just 15.6 points per game, 10th best in the country. Syracuse, on the other hand, gave up 36.0 points per game prior to Saturday, tied for 107th in the country.

You most likely could have looked at any statistic, and it would have told you the same thing: Syracuse was going to get stomped by Virginia Tech. Instead, the Orange pulled off one of the most unimaginable upsets in recent memory, reminding us, yes, college football is crazy.

Trick or AND Treat

Dino Babers really opened up the playbook on Saturday. After Syracuse’s offense was seemingly nonexistent against Wake Forest last week, Babers decided to look through his bag of tricks against Virginia Tech, calling multiple trick plays and catching the Hokies on their heels.

While there were no fake punts or field goals (we miss you Riley Dixon), Babers called multiple double-passes, including throws by running back Dontae Strickland and wide receiver Erv Phillips. While Phillips finished his day 1-1 with a 10-yard completion, it was Strickland who may force a quarterback controversy.

On the opening play of the second quarter, facing a 2nd-and-five on their own 16-yard line, Strickland took the toss from quarterback Eric Dungey and faked the run, befure heaving the ball downfield to a wide-open Brisly Estime who then raced down the right sideline for an 84-yard touchdown. Not only was Strickland’s 84-yard touchdown pass the longest play of the season, but it was the sixth-longest in Syracuse history.

No Amba, No Problem

Who needs the country’s leading wide receiver anyway? Lost in the chaos of Syracuse’s upset win was the fact its No. 1 receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, who entered Saturday leading the nation with 876 receiving yards, was largely nonexistent.

Virginia Tech most likely made sure stopping Etta-Tawo was its defense’s number one priority, and for the most part, the Hokies succeeded. Etta-Tawo was held to just five receptions for 54 yards, his second conseuctive game failing to eclipse 100 receiving yards.

The rest of Syracuse’s four leading receivers all seemed to dominate, as Erv Phillips finished with a team-high 11 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown, Brisly Estime hauled in eight receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown and Steve Ishmael finished the game with six receptions for 81 yards.


What else did you learn from Syracuse’s improbable upset win? Leave a comment below.