This upcoming season marks the 10-year anniversary of what’s regularly hailed as the best season of college football that ever was. In 2007, a two-loss team (LSU) won the national title. Boston College, USF, Kansas and others all spent time at No. 2 in the country. Monumental upsets were a weekly occurrence. Nothing made sense.
Over on SB Nation, they’ve rolled out a whole content package on 2007’s wackiness (I highly recommend reading that), but we do have something of our own to add to that rich, season-long storyline.
While you’ve probably spent a lot of time trying to forget the 2007 Syracuse Orange football season, it did (somehow) happen. And for a fleeting weekend in September, that campaign and the
Greg GERG Robinson era felt like they were about to shift in a dramatically different direction.
After its customary non-conference power program beatings to lead off the season (double-digit losses to Washington, at Iowa and Illinois), Syracuse went on the road to face the heavily favored No. 18 Louisville Cardinals without a shot in hell of winning the game. Or so we thought.
I remember, as an SU sophomore, habitually flipping the game on in our suite on Brewster 4. This was going to be ugly. We knew it, but we were going to watch it anyway. So was the story of my Orange football viewing experience while on campus.
Within seconds of the game’s kickoff, Andrew Robinson completed a 79-yard touchdown to Taj Smith. 7-0, Syracuse.
Louisville hit back in the second quarter, but then Max Suter returned the ensuing kickoff for a score, somehow. 14-7, Syracuse.
Andrew Robinson completes yet another pass of over 40-yards, for another Orange score. 21-7, Syracuse at the break.
The defense holds firm for much of the third before yielding a Cardinals TD. But then Robinson completes a 60-yard touchdown to Smith!!! 28-14, Syracuse.
In a classic bit of GERG game mismanagement, this would end up getting closer than it needed to as the fourth quarter wound down. Syracuse couldn’t just run out the clock or move the ball on the ground (42 yards on 35 carries that day), so the Cards kept getting more chances. It was 31-21 for a bit, and 38-28. Louisville managed to get within three at 38-35, but was unable to complete the comeback.
A Greg Robinson-coached Orange team went and beat a ranked Louisville squad on the road. It was a Big East game, so despite the awful start to the year, the 2007 season had officially been “saved.”
I can still remember the Daily Orange the following Monday. I pinned it up on our wall in the suite’s common room, and I wish I could find the damn link to the story now. Perhaps it was banished from the site, for good reason.
The writers at the D.O. -- whoever they may be now (probably not “bloggers”... psh) -- declared it a defining victory for Robinson’s tenure, and a season-altering victory. Beating a ranked team was enormous for the program’s ability to get back on its feet. And with a 1-0 Big East record, the Orange Bowl seemed like the obvious end to the season.
We’d win one more game the rest of the way, a 20-12 struggle fest with Buffalo that was among the most unwatchable football games I’ve ever experienced. So much so that I willingly left the student section at halftime to go hang out with my buddy’s extended family in one of the Dome suites. I needed to walk away -- even if not fully — from whatever the hell that team was.
Despite being a devout (national) college football fan, and loving everything 2007 means to the sport, those Syracuse images are still the most lasting ones for me. That D.O. front page. My friends and I celebrating the win like it was something life-altering. Andrew Robinson’s record-setting passing day (423 yards, four TDs) out of nowhere. The miserable Buffalo game. The fact that the Cards only went 6-6 that season. Even worse, that the Orange went 2-10.
All of it creates the sad parade of memories from a season that was fun for nearly every other fan base. Except Syracuse, of course.