A new week is here, and Syracuse Orange fans should have their hearing back after Saturday’s 24-9 victory over NC State. Head Coach Dino Babers held his longest press conference of the season on Monday, so I’ve got plenty to relay ahead of this weekend’s clash at No. 5 Clemson:
Now 6-0, the No. 14 Orange are one of only nine undefeated teams left in the FBS. Most of the others are national powerhouses like Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and, yes, Clemson. Babers spoke to his players on Sunday about what this feeling should mean to them.
“You should cherish it and understand this moment and not let it just go past you,” Babers said. “You should look at it and be proud.”
The players seemed to be well ahead of their coach, judging by their postgame celebrations on Saturday:
Win together.— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) October 15, 2022
Celebrate together. pic.twitter.com/e7lOlaaGmt
This is the best start for SU since their unbeaten 1987 campaign, and the highest AP ranking since Week 11 of the 2018 season, when the Orange reached the No. 12 spot.
LOUD (HOUSE) NOISES!
For those who were unable to attend Saturday’s game, let me tell you: It. Was. LOUD. The Dome certainly lived up to its namesake and Babers was quick to recite that.
“One of the advantages of this institution is home games in that Dome, and when it is filled like that, it is a true 12th man,” Babers said. “I’ve been in stadiums where your 12th man is not a 12 man... The Dome, the JMA at Syracuse University, that is a true 12th man.”
Babers compared the noise levels on Saturday to what you’d normally hear at College Station in Texas (home to Texas A&M) or at the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
“It was bad on my voice, trying to communicate with my coaches,” he added with a grin. “It was fun.”
Remembering Floyd Little
During halftime of the NC State game, Syracuse honored the three players who established the Legend of 44: Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little. Their names had all been enshrined in the Ring of Honor in 2020, but this time, the ceremony was in front of nearly 50k SU fans instead of empty bleachers.
Babers took some time to reflect on the importance of 44 at ‘Cuse, his friendship with Little, and the history of SU as a whole:
- When asked about the jacket he was wearing during the presser - “Floyd gave me two jackets (before he passed away). He gave me a Syracuse letterman jacket, and he gave me the story behind it.... And then he gave me this one, and just all the stuff that was going on at halftime and having an opportunity on Friday to meet (the Little, Brown, and Davis families), it just makes you reflect on all the great people that have been here. All the great people that have worn the number 44.”
- “I just don’t think sometimes the young people really understand the whole legacy (of 44) and the message, the history of the school, the things that it’s done, as far as things differently than other people back in the 50s.”
- “I’m really proud of the history of the school, even though I didn’t go here. But I did have two daughters that graduated from here!”
- Dino also added that he would like to see more football alumni come back to speak with the team.
Trying to Tame the Tigers
I think we can all agree that this is the most difficult opponent on the Orange calendar this season. The Tigers are back to fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff thanks to a D.J. Uiagalelei-led offense that has “changed dramatically” from last season. They are two-score favorites in this matchup - giving Dino and co. to play spoiler in a way they haven’t since the 2017 upset over the then No. 2 team in the country.
“They have an amazing streak going on down there, and we’re going to play them at their place, which is a very, very difficult task,” Babers said. “We even hear it’s Homecoming.”
That “amazing streak” is only the most consecutive home victories in the entire FBS. Clemson came into the season winners of 34 straight in Death Valley, and that number since has risen to 37 in a row. What is sure to be a packed Memorial Stadium will flip the tempo and test the Orange offense’s discipline in a way they have yet to experience. Their crowd noise “does exactly the reverse” of what the Dome offers SU players.
Still, Babers is confident that Garrett Shrader can continue his own resurgence behind center.
“When you look at his touchdown to interception ratio, I believe it’s 4/1, which is outstanding,” Babers said. “If you’re a 2/1, people consider you a good quarterback.”
Kickoff in Clemson is at high noon Saturday.