While the Syracuse Orange failed to turn some early momentum into much toward the end of the season, we did still beat the Clemson Tigers, the current No. 1 team in the nation. You can listen to all the excuses about Kelly Bryant bandied about in the months since, but it doesn’t change the fact that we still pulled the upset.
The folks at Athlon acknowledge how big of a win (and how good of a game) it was too, apparently. They ranked SU vs. Clemson No. 2 while ranking the 15 best ACC football games of 2017.
“The defending national champions' Friday the 13th horror did not wear a hockey mask; rather, Clemson's fright night donned navy blue and orange. Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and his staff came at Clemson with an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball, taking control early en route to one of the 2017 season's biggest upsets.”
The aggression on both sides was what struck everyone about the win both at the time and afterward. SU found Clemson’s weaknesses pretty quickly and exploited them in ways no other opponent really did all year. Bryant not starting out at 100-percent may have factored in there, but he doesn’t play defense. And it’s not as if their four- and five-star backup options are theoretically worse than the players Syracuse is putting on the field.
Though it was this was the only Syracuse game Athlon included, I may have added the NC State and/or Miami games as well. SU might have started out both contests down big, but they roared back and nearly pulled the upset each time. A case could potentially be made for the Orange-Seminoles game as well, given how that game was decided by a missed field goal at the buzzer.
Any specific way you’d reconfigure these rankings? Share your own thoughts below.