When the Syracuse Orange and North Carolina State Wolfpack meet this Saturday, they’ll both be bringing 4-5 records with them. There is a bit of a difference, however, in how both teams arrived at this destination.
Syracuse has had two basic types of games this year. The first, ugly slugfest with occasional offensive outpouring (see: UConn, BC, Wake Forest). The second, obliteration (see: Louisville, Notre Dame, Clemson).
NC State has had it’s share of games that meet that criteria as well. They got the same treatment from Louisville (though to be fair most opponents have). They inexplicably lost to Boston College a few weeks ago, which still requires an explanation. But in terms of shared opponents, they’ve got a leg up on the Orange. They topped Notre Dame 10-3 (man, SU would love to play that game again...). They lost to Clemson by a mere touchdown. They’re also coming off a loss to FSU by just four points in a game they could have won. Some are calling NC State unlucky. Others are taking it further and saying there might be a curse at play.
“We’ve lost a lot of heartbreakers,” said Hines, who finished with a career-high 11 catches for 124 yards. “Every week it seems we’re in a game, and we just keep finding ways to lose instead of winning.”
Certainly we’d much rather keep our win over Boston College but, in a be-careful-what-you-wish-for kind of way, Syracuse would love to be the team complaining about curses right now instead of the one that knows there’s a decent chance they’re going to give up 50 points any given night.
The talk around the Wolfpack program is how they keep “snatching a loss from the jaws of victory.” While SU should be proud of the VT win, we’ve otherwise won the games we’re supposed to win (Wake Forest remains questionable) and lost the games we’re supposed to lose. There’s no discussion of luck or bad breaks for SU in 2016. It’s about cold, hard truths.
Sure, we could imagine a scenario where the Wake Forest game wasn’t played in a storm and we didn’t catch Notre Dame on the worst possible week to play them. But it’s hard to feel as though SU “deserved” to win either game. If we were better, we might have, but we’re not, so we didn’t.
As usual, I have to include my caveat that Syracuse may still go bowling this year. The Orange could very well beat the Wolfpack and add to their snakebitten mantra. We could also beat Pitt for win No. 6 or even qualify at 5-7 thanks to the APR Gods. While you might think SU “should” beat NC State, it would be silly to think that’s a lock and even sillier not to think NC State could easily come out and knock the Orange out, especially if they’re Dungey-less.
But over on the NC State side, they seem to know for sure they have the ability to beat SU. By all accounts, they feel like they should beat Syracuse and the results seem to bear this out. It’s supposed to be a formality. So their 4-5 record feels like a major disappointment whereas, all things considered, Syracuse’s 4-5 could be better but they’ll still take it.
Orange fans want to see their program reach heights of old and we hope Dino Babers has us on the right track. Hopefully we’re able to skip this part of the story, but if not, may 2017 be the year we feel the way NC State feels right now. As if we should be better than our record says, even if it doesn’t lie.