The Syracuse Orange upset the no. 17-ranked team in the country today.
Virginia Tech, fresh off a 31-point victory over North Carolina, were 20-point favorites at kickoff, but that didn’t matter one bit to SU. The Orange’s offense finally came together in the second half of a game, and took it to the Hokies in the fourth quarter to pull off the surprising 31-17 upset.
As we mentioned earlier in the week, Syracuse hadn’t upset a ranked team since 2012 (Louisville), but that streak ended tonight at the Carrier Dome. On the back of the team’s impressive defensive showing and a ballsy performance by Eric Dungey, they temporarily right the ship on this season and at least build some momentum going into next week’s game vs. Boston College. SU is now 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC, with two more games vs. ranked teams (Florida State, Clemson) still to go.
While the first half was filled with what-ifs between the goal line play-calling, time management and missed field goals, the second half was the opposite. The Orange offense pushed one of the nation’s best defenses each and every possession, and finally broke through when it mattered in the fourth quarter to close out the upset. Defensively, Syracuse managed a consistent pass-rush and forced Hokies QB Jerod Evans to throw from pocket a lot. Though things got dicey for a bit when Tech tied things at 17 early in the fourth, SU forced a punt and a fumble to put the exclamation point on things.
Dungey showed everyone that he had a brass pair today, playing through what looked like a pretty painful right leg injury in the first half, and delivering some key runs to help set up the victory anyway. On the game, he was 28-for-53 for 311 yards, one TD and one interception. But it was on the ground where he was truly game-changing. In his career-best rushing game, he had 24 carries for 106 yards and a score. His go-ahead TD and the late first down run with five minutes to go being the key plays.
The Orange offense still struggled to finish off drives here and there, but you saw positive progress throughout the game. Ervin Philips had 11 catches for 139 yards and a TD. Steve Ishmael had six catches for 81 yards and is becoming a bigger factor in the offense. Brisly Estime was explosive all afternoon, catching eight balls for 131 yards and a score (including one on an 84-yard reception from Dontae Strickland).
SU was 10-for-21 on third down and 4-for-5 on fourth, as Dino Babers’s more aggressive mindset seemed to return in the second half. The team had 561 yards of offense (again, against one of the country’s top-ranked defenses), and picked up 32 (!!!) first downs.
Enjoy every second of this, Syracuse fans. We’re far from “back,” but a win like this is a step in the right direction and proof that Dino Babers’s system is taking hold. The team put in an admirable performance on both sides of the ball, and it paid huge dividends in the upset. Considering how many injuries this team’s dealt with since the year started, it’s nothing short of a miracle to have so thoroughly manhandled Virginia Tech all afternoon.
I don’t care if you drink Bud Lights all night. You have my permission to imbibe in whatever gets the job done to celebrate this impressive victory. G’ORANGE!