Here’s my prediction from before Saturday’s game between the Syracuse Orange and No. 17 Virginia Tech Hokies.
Feel like we know the drill. Syracuse will get on the board first and look good. Virginia Tech will adjust. Syracuse's offense will go bye-bye while the Hokies offense takes off. Just like that it's 28-14 at the half. The second is more of them and less of us. Let's just survive to get to Boston College...
And you know, for a while there, it felt like this was what was going to happen. Syracuse jumped out to a big lead thanks to some trickery. They squandered some key opportunities to put VT away. The Hokies eventually took advantage and evened things up. And at that point it was only a matter of time before the wheels came off and Virginia Tech ended up covering the spread, somehow.
Eric Dungey fought through a painful-looking leg injury to put the offense on his back and lead them down the field on a 17-play touchdown drive capped by a one-yard touchdown dive done himself. He and Dontae Strickland then put the nail in the coffin on a four-play, 37-yard drive to make it 31-17. From there the Orange worked the clock and benefitted from a Hokie fumble to seal the school’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2012.
So what does it all mean? I’m not really sure there’s an answer and I’m not sure you should go looking for one. Last week we got beat up by Wake Forest (quibble as we might about the conditions) and this week we hold our own against a nationally-ranked opponent who dominated a good UNC squad last week.
It feels like one of those games where all the little pieces lined up just right and there’s no telling if it’ll happen again. It was a home game coming off a bad loss. It was the reboot of an old rivalry. The coaches and players were staying down a pretty bleak second-half of the season if they didn’t step it up. Maybe the Hokies came in a little cocky. The SU defense was finally beginning to find it’s footing. And the offense was finally learning how to maintain it’s momentum in spite of mistakes and injuries.
Does this suddenly mean we’re going to give everyone we play a fight moving forward? Can’t say I’d put money on that just yet. But it’s proof that this team isn’t ready to lay down and just call 2016 a wash. It might still end up that way, but as the players hugged and celebrated their big win you could see how important this was to them. They’re not thinking about legacy or Dino Baber’s Master Plan, they’re just trying to win.
After the game, students swarmed the field to join in the celebration, even joining in the singing of the alma mater. I don’t think anyone should fault them for doing so. It was a catharsis for everyone involved. To win a game in the Dome you’re not supposed to. These haven’t come around too often in recent years, so if we get nothing else out of this season let it be this.
Cool-as-hell moment! pic.twitter.com/z7cyRbBGwM— Matthew McClusky (@MatthewMcClusky) October 15, 2016
There’s no reason Syracuse should have won and no reason Virginia Tech should have lost but here we are. Good reminder that college football is weird and sometimes that’s a good thing.