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What are Syracuse football’s most re-watchable games since 2000?

How you define “re-watchable” also dictates a lot here.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On this week’s Shutdown Fullcast, the discussion centered around college football’s most re-watchable games. Not “best,” mind you — though those can overlap. But the games that you’d happily queue up right now and watch in full. That can be due to the teams, the stakes, the score, the #NARRATIVE... anything, really.

Naturally, we were curious about applying this lens to Syracuse Orange games as well. Sure, most will ultimately be wins for SU. But what we’re looking for are relatively close, compelling contests that potentially had some greater meaning for the program or season (or both). The Iowa game’s not on here because it sucked and I would never re-watch that. You may despise some of others here too (realistically, though, they’re almost entirely SU wins, so you’re fine).

Here are the 10 most re-watchable Syracuse football games from this century. You’re certainly familiar with most of them. They’re in order, according to me.

2017: Syracuse 27, Clemson 24

No major retelling required here. Syracuse came in at 3-3, while Clemson was unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the country. But Eric Dungey orchestrated a 14-7 lead after one quarter and a 17-14 halftime advantage. The Orange defense held its own and terrorized Clemson quarterbacks all game. It’s arguably the second-best upset in Dome history, and one of the more impressive upsets in college football these past few years.

2010 Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34

Stakes play a role here, but nonetheless, this snow-covered return to the postseason was a fun one whether you were involved or not (unless you were the Wildcats). SU and K-State went back and forth all evening, and a timely — and probably bogus — penalty on KSU helped preserve the win late. It was an exclamation point on the early part of Doug Marrone’s tenure, and the proof we needed that things were improving rapidly. He’d cash those chips in the following year when SU missed the postseason, however.

2013: Syracuse 34, Boston College 31

Sitting at 5-6 and needing a win to make a bowl, Syracuse came out firing against BC in the season finale at the Dome. Star Eagles’ back Andre Williams was out early, and SU dashed to a 21-7 lead before Boston College cut it to 21-14 at half. BC recaptured the lead by the fourth quarter, but a late touchdown drive culminating in a connection from Terrel Hunt to Josh Parris would take it back for good for the Orange. Ivan Foy skipped around the end zone, and we ended up in the Texas Bowl.

2002: Syracuse 50, Virginia Tech 42 (3OT)

Virginia Tech was a top-10 team in 2002, while Syracuse was a beleaguered 4-8. But that didn’t much matter when the Hokies visited the Dome — their personal house of horrors — in November. Down 14-3 early, Syracuse battled back to make it 14-12 at half, then grabbed a 22-21 lead in the third. They’d trade scores for the rest of the game, and Damien Rhodes had the go-ahead score in the third OT. But it was Maurice McClain who collected the key pick to seal the deal. Appropriately, Troy Nunes threw for 403 yards in the surprising victory.

2011: Syracuse 36, Wake Forest 29 (OT)

One of the dumbest Syracuse games of recent vintage. Syracuse was down 29-14 to Wake at the Dome with 11 minutes left and all looked lost. Then, Ryan Nassib led the Orange to 22 unanswered points to first force overtime and then grab the win over the Deacons. In what would be a harbinger of weird contests to come for the teams, Wake had more yards and better stats all around, but just couldn’t close the door after Tanner Price got hurt. The 2011 season was beyond strange, as we’d later learn.

2010: Syracuse 19, West Virginia 14

Before knocking off Kansas State in the Pinstripe Bowl, this was the game that told us Doug Marrone’s team was for real that season. The Orange went on the road to Morgantown (where they hadn’t won in a decade) and knocked off 20th-ranked WVU with a stingy defense effort that completely shut out the usually high-flying ‘Eers in the second half. Things were far from pretty on SU’s end offensively. However, the defense picked off Geno Smith three times, manufacturing terror that would end up being a pattern in his career against the Orange.

2018: Clemson 27, Syracuse 23

I know we lost this one, but from an entertainment standpoint this was still incredibly compelling. After 2017’s upset at the Dome, Syracuse seemed primed to do it again in Death Valley. They took a 16-7 lead into halftime against the third-ranked Tigers, who would be without Trevor Lawrence for the rest of the game. But despite some very close calls — and a penalty that derailed the upset bid late — Clemson punched in the winning score with just 41 seconds to go. Little did we know it would end up being a matchup of the two best teams in the ACC.

2012: Syracuse 31, Missouri 27

If someone has the image of DOCTOR Gross yelling in the back of the end zone after Alec Lemon’s go-ahead touchdown grab with just 20 seconds remaining, please leave it in the comments below. SU needed this (unnecessarily stupid) road win to even have a shot at a bowl game despite being a top-40 team that year. To pull it off, they came back from an early 11-point deficit, and then a seven-point gap late in the fourth to take their only lead of the game.

Texas Bowl - Syracuse v Minnesota Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

2013 Texas Bowl: Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17

The pinnacle of the Scott Shafer era. SU was up 14-3 early, and then got lit up by the Gophers’ Mitch Leidner in the second half to eventually trail 17-14 in the fourth quarter. A key punt return by Brisly Estime set up the go-ahead late touchdown drive with a minute left, when Terrel Hunt scampered into the end zone from 12 yards out. He wore a cowboy hat. It was fun. Simpler times then what came throughout the next two years...

2009: Syracuse 37, Northwestern 34

Doug Marrone’s first win at SU, and a far more enjoyable back-and-forth battle between these teams than the 2012 edition (/still outraged). Greg Paulus threw for 346 yards while helping the Orange jump out to a 17-0 lead in the first. Northwestern battled back, and finally took the lead early in the fourth quarter at 34-27. But Paulus connected with Mike Williams to tie the score with six minutes left, then Ryan Lichtenstein hit the game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired.

Honorable mention: SU 49-UNC 47 (2003), SU 40-Wyoming 34 (2006), UVA 44-SU 38 (2015), LSU 35-SU 26 (2017), SU 34-WVU 18 (2018)

Agree? Disagree? Also, while we’re here, also included my most re-watchable (non-Syracuse) college football games:

  • 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (OT)
  • 2006 Rose Bowl: Texas 41, USC 38
  • 2013: Auburn 34, Alabama 28
  • 2016 National Championship: Alabama 45, Clemson 40
  • 2018 National Championship: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 (OT)
  • 2017 Rose Bowl: USC 52, Penn State 49
  • 2018 Rose Bowl: Georgia 54, Oklahoma 48 (2OT)
  • 2014: Baylor 61, TCU 58
  • 2017 National Championship: Clemson 35, Alabama 31
  • 2014 BCS Title Game: Florida State 34, Auburn 31