The Syracuse Orange played a football game against Boston College today and it started at 5:13 pm.
You can’t convince me otherwise.
A dreadful offensive performance from both teams meant that Boston College took a 3-0 lead into the halftime locker room. What followed was a refocused Syracuse ground attack that found the holes at the right time. The Orange ran over the Eagles in the second half and the defense stayed strong as Syracuse won 21-6 to move one win closer to bowl eligibility.
The biggest shock to all in the Carrier Dome was how anemic both offenses look in the first half. Syracuse only gained 118 yards in the first 30 minutes of game time while Boston College only mustered 132 yards in that same timeframe. Neither defense did anything particularly special - the first half score line was more of an indication on how sloppy both offenses played.
“We had guys playing different positions,” said Syracuse head coach Dino Babers. “And they were doing things they had not done before.”
Luckily for Orange fans, Syracuse turned it around in the third quarter. The Orange rushed for 140 yards alone in the first 15 minutes after the break and ran for 225 yards in the second half alone. The big catalysts were a 51-yard touchdown run from Sean Tucker and a 48-yard touchdown run from Garrett Shrader, which swung the momentum full in favor of the Orange.
⚡️ 51 YARDS UNTOUCHED ⚡️@seantucker2020— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) October 30, 2021
Speaking of Tucker, the running back continued to please the Orange faithful with his performance. He rushed for a career high 207 yards on 26 carries. Tucker now has ran for 1,267 yards this season, which is the third highest single season mark for an Orange player. He only sits behind Walter Reyes (1,347 yards in 2003) and Joe Morris (1,372 yards in 1979).
Doing the quick math, that means Tucker would need to rush for 105 yards over the final three games this season to break Morris’ record. And given that Tucker has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight games this season, it seems likely that he could break that mark as soon as Syracuse’s next game against Louisville.
“It definitely means a lot if I’m able to reach that,” said Tucker. “It shows all the hard work I’ve put into this game and all the work in the offseason.”
Of course, if you hold an offense to six points, the defense is probably a talking point. Syracuse held Boston College to 251 total yards of offense. To put that into context, the Orange ran for 293 yards in the game. Even though the Orange were facing a depleted Boston College offense without Phil Jurkovec and with an injury to NFL draft prospect Tyler Vrabel during the game, the performance was a much needed boost for a Syracuse unit that has allowed over 30 points during three ACC games this season.
Kingsley Jonathan has a career-high 3 sacks, the 8th-highest single game total in program history. pic.twitter.com/qY8p5pn0ML— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) October 30, 2021
The big benefactor of the day on defense was Kingsley Jonathan, who’s been quiet this season especially after battling an early-season injury and with the emergence of Cody Roscoe. Jonathan set a career high with three sacks as the super-senior delivered a much-needed jolt of energy to a Syracuse defense that has looked vulnerable at times in ACC play.
“I owe everything everything to my teammates,” said Jonathan. “If everybody comes to play, we’re gonna be good.”
Syracuse also finally broke through on special teams thanks to a Courtney Jackson 64-yard punt return touchdown. Jackson handled return duties because Trebor Pena missed the game due to injury. After a couple of questionable routes on returns early in the game, Jackson found the right holes on a punt in the third quarter to give the Orange their first special teams touchdown of the season.
While there were some positives to take away from the game, there were some areas of concern. First of all, the Orange offense did get rolling in spite of an abysmal day passing the ball. Syracuse only ran 14 passing plays as opposed to 47 rushing plays. Shrader went 5-14 for 65 yards as his accuracy looked poor once again.
The other glaring elephant in the room is the question of what would have happened if Boston College had Jurkovec. Dennis Grosel and Emmett Morehead overthrew Zay Flowers multiple times as the star wide receiver seemed to get the better of his matchup against many Syracuse defenders often. Flowers was wide open for quite a few free touchdowns as he burned Orange secondary players down the field, but BC’s quarterbacks couldn’t hit him.
But, Syracuse doesn’t like dealing with “what ifs,” especially with some fans asking that question about bowl eligibility due to the close Orange losses this season. What stands in front of this Orange team after a bye week is the prospect of getting one win from the final three regular season games of the season: on the road against Louisville and NC State, and at home against Pitt.
Imagine telling yourself from one year ago that this is the situation Syracuse faces, especially after a one-win season.