Can Syracuse win more than four games?
This doesn’t seem like a fair question – Syracuse football is already 2-0, after all. The Orange avoided a scare against Western Michigan in the season opener and then handed Wagner a 52-point loss in the Carrier Dome this past weekend.
Since Coach Dino Babers took over the program in 2016, the Orange haven’t managed more than four wins. They haven’t managed that feat since Scott Schafer took over for Doug Marrone in 2013, Syracuse’s first year in the ACC. In fact, the last two years under Babaers, Syracuse has been the only team in the ACC’s Atlantic division to win under half their games.
So maybe this question isn’t that unfair.
Last year should have gone so much better. After starting out 1-0 with a cupcake win over Central Connecticut State, the Orange slipped on the banana peel that was Middle Tennessee State, leaving them 1-1.
Winning two of their next four, the Orange headed into a seemingly unwinnable encounter with No. 2 Clemson at the Carrier Dome. As we all know now, Syracuse shocked the Tigers 27-24, leaving them with a winning record and a shot at a bowl game in week seven.
Instead two close losses to undefeated Miami and a strong, but not historic, Florida State team spelled doom. The Orange lost starting QB Eric Dungey to injury during the FSU game and never regained the magic. They lost the season out to Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College by a combined 95 points.
In other words, a season for the Orange can look to be on the verge of something one minute and descend into catastrophe the next.
Could This Be The Year?
Ultimately this year will be dependent on their senior signal caller again. When healthy Dungey is a difference maker, attacking with both his arm and his legs. His completion percentage is a point down from last year’s total but he’s averaging more yards per pass attempt (7.9 compared to 6.6) and has almost half as many yards as he had in nine games last year in two this season (244 yards in 2018; 595 total in 2017).
These numbers have been padded by an impressive showing Saturday against a weak team, but the veteran knows that his presence is the difference between Syracuse being a bottom feeder again and making a serious run at a bowl game.
With a game against FSU this weekend, a team the Orange lost to by three points last season without Dungey for the closing moments, a win on Saturday could end the run of bad luck and make Syracuse football a contender for a bowl game again.
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