As is tradition in this long-standing rivalry, no fans were in attendance at the Carrier Dome, and the only video feed goes directly to John Swofford’s burner phone in the basement of the Greensboro Convention Center. But the lack of fans didn’t stop the Syracuse Orange from putting on a show against the Bye Week Fightin’ Byes in a 44-3 victory.
Syracuse received the kick first, and Eric Dungey made short work of the Byes’ defense, carving them up on six straight completions before running in a touchdown himself. The Byes would punt on their first three possessions, while SU managed 17 points in the early drives. Coach Dino Babers wanted a fast start out of this group, and he certainly got it on Saturday.
For the Fightin’ Byes, the aim was to slow down the tempo to a speed more in line with Coach Bino Dabers’s gameplan. Quarterback Derrick Dungy was happy to hand the ball over to Dante Struckland to do all of the dirty as Bye Week attempted to burn clock and keep the game within arm’s length. Syracuse simply wouldn’t cooperate, however.
“I said before the game that ‘Orange is the New Past’ and it seems I was a bit off there,” said Byes’ coach Bino Dabers after the game. “It appears ‘Orange is the New PASS’ and we have some work to do on our end. I’m going to go watch some television shows, as a noted television buff who hates Game of Thrones.”
Dungey threw for 420 yards against the Byes, including four scores (a career-high). His five total touchdowns were also a feat for the junior. He was able to torment Bye Week all day both through the air and on the ground.
For the Byes, it was all up to Struckland, as Ishmael Stephen and Irving Pheleps were used more as blockers than anything else. The run game was effective on first downs, but hardly on second and third. Bye Week ended up punting seven times. Their lone points on the day was a late drop kick field goal by kicker Murphy Cole — who’s struggled all season to get it through the uprights, but the drop kick form seemed to work for him in this one (on a single try, of course).
Syracuse’s Cole Murphy was busy himself on the day. While Dungey punched it into the end zone well enough, the Orange senior did end up with three field goals of his own.
Those alone would have beat the Byes’ offense, however, something that frustrated BWU linebacker Fraire Zanklin after the game.
“If we could just score more points, we’d have a chance to break this losing streak,” he said. “Of course, stopping anyone on third down would also be helpful — can’t say the defense is totally in the clear either.”
Zanklin had appeared in the Players’ Tribune the week before, penning a piece called “Wings Are Different Around Here,” an article on local food in Syracuse. It earned him notoriety, mostly for his controversial takes on wings. He preferred boneless and also without sauce or seasoning. The local food community was aghast.
But food aside, the Byes did fall to Syracuse for the 128th consecutive season. Unlike some recent contests, it was not a memorable one, but that’s been the story of the Byes’ 0-9 season so far. Dabers is aware of the perception of his team and he’s trying to change things.
“I’m asking for relief without relevance from our fans,” he explained. “Eventually, that relief turns into rust and I hope everyone shows up to see that process take place.”
Bye Week goes on to face the resurgent Boston College Eagles next week in the hopes of turning things around. BC’s found an offense of late, however, so the Byes will once again be up against a team that can move the ball and score some points at a quicker pace than they can.
Syracuse will head down to Florida State to face a battered 2-5 Seminoles team in what’s become a must-win for FSU if they have any shot at making the postseason this year.