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Syracuse football: three takeaways from the 17-10 loss to Boston College

We’re all at a loss for words.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The morale of Syracuse Orange fans fell to a season low after coach Dino Babers and company (4-5, 0-5) fell 17-10 Friday night in a defensive battle versus the Boston College Eagles (6-3, 3-2). Despite a 4-0 start, Syracuse remains winless against the ACC with no victory in the win column since September 23.

While the Orange did keep the contest close throughout (especially on the defensive end), the Eagles commandeered enough efficient drives on offense to outlast a Syracuse offensive that did not have starting quarterback Garrett Shrader available.

There’s clearly a lot to discuss, so let’s just right into the main takeaways from the Orange’s defeat:

One too many missed opportunities

We always talk about Syracuse’s tendency to be mistake-prone (especially with the penalties and turnovers), but what also needs to be discussed are the chances the Orange let slip away versus the Eagles.

That starts on the offensive end — how did Syracuse not capitalize on the field position it had? The Orange had four drives where they started at BC’s 45-yard line or better — the offense ended up with two punts, two turnovers and zero points.

The math was never in favor of Syracuse, and being this close was a miracle to begin with. The Eagles ran double the number of offensive plays (94) as the Orange did (47); BC held possession of the ball for over 42 minutes of game time.

It’s hard to not give credit to the Orange’s defense. Syracuse held BC, a team which had averaged north of 28 points per game in its last four games, to two touchdowns. Stefon Thompson looked revitalized, while the likes of Anwar Sparrow and Justin Barron caused momentum-altering turnovers:

At the same time, the unofficial tally for Syracuse’s defense included five dropped interception opportunities, by our count.

In a game where a possession or two swung the game, the Orange let too many chances slip away.

As simple as can be

The announcement that Shrader was unavailable for the game less than an hour before kick-off was a bombshell news update for all of us. Clearly, backup Carlos Del-Rio Wilson was the next man up at quarterback, but Babers’ remain committed to getting CDRW, LeQuint Allen and Dan Villari heavy usage on the offensive end.

Allen had one of his better games as a member of the Orange: 18 rushes for 142 yards, including 32-yard and and 56-yard runs which set Syracuse up for its only two scoring possessions of the night.

The rest of the offense, however, was as shaky as you can get. Del-Rio Wilson went 7/17 for 37 yards in the air and four interceptions, the most a Syracuse QB has had in a game since 2017. CDRW’s deep ball was nonexistent, but he was also consistently short on some of his throws in the flat and short field.

NCAA Football: Boston College at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

On the receiving end, Villari (3 catches for 14 yards) and Umari Hatcher (3 catches for 19 yards) were the only two players with more than one reception. Hatcher notably had a pass that was ripped out of his hands mid-play with the Orange in field goal range and the game tied at 10. Allen only caught one pass on the night.

Syracuse had little option but to go to mainly the running game, but the lack of any passing game contributed to Syracuse getting only 10 first downs compared to BC’s 26.

The Orange’s offensive struggles continue to linger, and the BC game didn’t reinforce that getting substantially fixed moving forward — ‘Cuse has five touchdowns and 44 points combined in its five ACC games this year.

Is it inevitable?

That question refers to what comes next for Babers, whose seat was already hot entering Friday night’s game and only grew worse.

Is the loss entirely his fault? Of course not — there’s plenty of factors in play and blame to go around.

At the same time, it’s clear the trend for the Orange continues to point downward. A promising season has turned into desperation, with Syracuse winless for the past month and a half, needing two wins in its last three games just to get to .500 and bowl eligibility.

The circumstances don’t make this situation any better. The BC loss was another painful defeat on national television. The outlook for Babers was one of many narratives to watch for at the start of the season, and has now become the narrative for everything looking ahead.

And that brings the question, yet again, back into the fold: what comes next, and when?