Over six years ago, I noted that the Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons made for strange bedfellows on the football field after a strange start to the teams’ annual intradivision matchup. Even then, odd things just seemed to be the norm when these two faced off, even if the oddest thing back then was a key Wake player getting injured in every game.
Now, in 2021, it wins up we didn’t even know the half of it. Syracuse’s series with the Demon Deacons has become one of the weirdest in the conference. And really, aside from Boston College, Wake might also have the strongest claim to be an actual rival at this point. Whether or not we actually hate one another is a different story entirely. Still, this game has produced quite a few memories.
To commemorate what’s happened to-date going into these teams’ 11th football game against one another, here’s how we’d rank the 10 matchups so far, by weirdness. Starting at No. 10...
10. Wake Forest 38, Syracuse 14 (2020)
Last year’s game was just... meh, for this series anyway. A very injured Orange squad actually seemed like they might hang around for a bit during a 17-7 first half (was 10-7 for most of the second), but things went off the rails after.
9. Syracuse 41, Wake Forest 24 (2018)
Another hardly weird one. Syracuse was rolling at this point in 2018, and the buzzsaw had no trouble dispatching the Deacons either. Among the potentially odd items here, though: Eric Dungey only threw for 157 yards, but ran for another 119. Sean Riley also caught eight passes because sure.
8. Syracuse 30, Wake Forest 17 (2015)
You’d wind up recalling this game as the one where everyone truly got familiar with Dungey, but before that, ‘Cuse was down 17-13 and then Wake lost top player K.J. Brent to injury. A personal foul and an 89-yard touchdown put SU in the lead and off goes the Dungey era one near-brutal injury at a time.
7. Wake Forest 20, Syracuse 10 (2006)
Pre-ACC days, you’d be forgiven for losing track of this game by now. I remember it for a last-second deal to get the contest aired on local TV during my freshman year. But also because SU helped propel the Deacons to the 2006 conference title. An injury to Ben Mauk suffered in this game gave the starting QB job to Riley Skinner, and the rest is history. Also, considering how forgettable this Orange squad was, it’s notable they gave an 11-win Wake team any sort of contest.
6. Syracuse 13, Wake Forest 0 (2013)
Hey, this was a football game that occurred! Neither team scored at all in the first half, but Wake Forest moves the ball better until... receiver Michael Campanaro is lost for the game. SU scores two touchdowns in three minutes shortly after, though misses an extra point because of course.
5. Syracuse 30, Wake Forest 7 (2014)
John Wolford was knocked out of this one, because that’s how this series went for the first five or so games. But after Wake scored the first points in this one, they wouldn’t put up any more for the afternoon. SU had 370 yards of offense, but despite being in attendance that day, I can’t recall a single one because they just sort of slept-walked once they gained a 17-7 lead in the first half. The Orange defense also scored two touchdowns, which helps. And makes this much odder than the score would indicate.
4. Wake Forest 28, Syracuse 9 (2016)
In rain-soaked Winston-Salem, Syracuse notched a safety and not much else while trying to pass their way through a downpour. Despite that, this was a 14-9 game going into the fourth quarter before everything went off the rails for the Orange.
3. Syracuse 36, Wake Forest 29 - OT (2011)
Perhaps the game that truly started it all. Things looked pretty bleak for Syracuse trailing 29-14 at the Dome with just 11 minutes left. And suddenly, everything turned on a dime after QB Tanner Price is lost for the game. ‘Cuse scores two touchdowns in four minutes (plus a two-point conversion) and then holds on for dear life to get to overtime. Van Chew plays savior with the game-winning TD grab in OT.
2. Wake Forest 64, Syracuse 43 (2017)
An explosive first half saw the teams trade blows before Syracuse reeled off 24 straight points in the second quarter. But then things went haywire. The Deacons outscore Syracuse 16-5 in the third to get within three points at 43-40 (remember those games?), and tacks on four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to wind up winning in a rout. I’ll never understand this game.
1. Syracuse 39, Wake Forest 30 - OT (2019)
Starting Clayton Welch, this game was confusing from the jump, yet a previously listless offense hung around vs. Wake in the season finale. Andre Szmyt and Nick Sciba traded big kicks with less than a minute to go in the fourth, then Szmyt tacked on another in OT. With Wake driving for what would’ve been the winning touchdown, Trill Williams strips Kendall Hinton at the six and then returns it 94 yards to cap off a wild finish.
Have your own rankings of these games? Share those below. Though here’s your obligatory strip six video....