After an upset-heavy weekend of college football, 7 new teams found their way into the AP Top 25. And for the first time since 2001, Syracuse was one of them. The Orange knocked off No. 22 NC State at home to improve to 6-2 (3-2), while also becoming bowl eligible for the first time under head coach Dino Babers. Syracuse finds themselves at No. 22, replacing the Wolfpack in the AP Top 25.
The game was back and forth and down to the wire inside the Carrier Dome. The Orange jumped out to a 24-7 first-quarter lead before a Wolfpack comeback left the score at 27-20 at the half. NC State cut the Orange lead to 44-41 with 7 minutes left after a back-and-forth offensive slugfest in the second half. But with the Wolfpack having the ball down by 3 late in the fourth, Syracuse’s Andrew Armstrong picked off Ryan Finley to lead to a Cuse touchdown and an eventual 51-41 win.
The biggest storyline throughout the week was the quarterback competition between senior Eric Dungey and redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito.
Dungey struggled against North Carolina the previous week, and DeVito took over, leading the Orange to a comeback overtime win. However, Babers stuck with Dungey last weekend and it paid off. Dungey went 27-38 for 44 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no picks while adding 32 yards rushing and another touchdown.
The Orange even featured some tricky two-QB packages, with DeVito throwing for 21 yards. Running back Dontae Strickland even threw a 48-yard pass to Sean Riley, who went for 10 catches and 164 yards. The conclusion? This is still Eric Dungey’s team, at least for another week.
The biggest problem for the Orange recently has been their defense. North Carolina went for 500 yards, while NC State put up 541 last weekend. Luckily for the Orange, the offense has been clicking. But with a tough remaining schedule, they will need the defense to step up. It begins this Saturday against Wake Forest.
As a Syracuse native and fan, this smells like a typical Cuse trap game. The big home win followed by a lackluster road performance. If the Orange really are a Top 25, even Top 20 team, they need to show up this weekend against a balanced Wake Forest attack. That begins in the hands of Eric Dungey but continues with a defense that hasn’t gotten the same pass rush or secondary play it had the first four games this season.
With the release of the first College Football Playoff Committee’s Top 25, the Orange received another honor. Their 6-2 start led to a no.19 ranking, Syracuse’s first-ever CFBP ranking. But like I said, this isn’t the time to take the foot off the gas for the Orange. If Syracuse is legit, they should handle Wake Forest and Louisville the next two weeks. This would set them up with a huge final two games against Notre Dame and Boston College. It starts this weekend in Winston-Salem.