Syracuse 34, Boston College 31 — What we learned

Syracuse clinched bowl eligibility with a dramatic 34-31 win over Boston College. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

Scott Shafer is the right man for the job

A few days ago, I wrote that, bowl eligibility or not, Syracuse fans should be thankful for Shafer. Players are fiercely loyal to him, and he is fiercely loyal to Syracuse. If you haven’t already seen his post game press conference, you need to watch it from start to finish. (H/T, CuseNation.) Some of the highlights included:

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Syracuse will head to a bowl game, but which one?

  • “We will never, ever, ever give up. Never. We will never give up. I don’t care when we got our butts kicked and Clemson when we let ourselves down, most importantly, our kids never quit.”
  • “The next guy in has been our creed. I don’t care what your name is, I don’t care what jersey, I don’t care what position you’re supposed to be playing, but the next man in is up, and it’s his job to get it done.”
  • “That defense, how many of you guys said it was over on the interception? … Our kids didn’t.”
  • “Someone said would you ever just let them score so you have more time on the clock? Hell no. We’re not doing that. What kind of message does that send to the kids? This ain’t the NFL. This is college football. Fight the good fight, the right way with integrity, and you find a way to win the game. I love this team. I frickin’ love this team, and I love this town.”

» Related: Instant analysis of Syracuse’s win over BC

Now the bowl waiting game

Syracuse is one of 11 bowl eligible teams in the ACC, but the conference only gets 8 auto-bids. Syracuse finished third in the Atlantic Division with a tiebreaker over Boston College, and possesses a better conference record than bowl eligible teams Pittsburgh and Maryland (they finished 3-5). That could possibly put Syracuse in line for the lower ACC bowls, including the Independence (Shreveport) and Military (Annapolis) Bowls. If SU isn’t granted one of the auto-bids, then there are several bowls where SU can land an at-large bid because of other conferences who don’t have enough bowl eligible teams. These wild card bowls include:

  • Pinstripe Bowl (Big 12’s empty spot): Syracuse fans are very familiar with this bowl and SU brought a large following two of the last three years. This would also play well into recruiting and the ACC will take over one of the auto-bids next season. But the at-large seems to be pointed toward Notre Dame, who lost to Stanford on Saturday.
  • Little Caesar’s Bowl (Big 10’s empty spot): Several publications, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Examiner and CBS Sports have projected the Panthers.
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl: A spot could open up if Ohio State heads to the championship game and another Big 10 teams takes one of the remaining BCS bids.
  • Poinsettia Bowl (Army’s empty spot): This is an unlikely destination for several reasons. First, Syracuse football fans are unlikely to make the trip out west. Second, the Pac-12 has a surplus of bowl eligible teams, and San Diego would be a more logical geographical destination.
  • Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (American’s possibly empty spot): The AAC only has four eligible teams right now, although Rutgers and SMU both are at 5 wins with a game left in the season.

Credit to Syracuse fans in the Dome

The Syracuse administration pleaded with the SU fan base this week, imploring the fans to show up and made their presence felt. The announced attendance was 37,406, and they made a difference, making as much noise as has been made all year. “You criticize the ones who don’t show up but you need to give the ones who do show up credit,” Shafer said. “I credit our fans for helping us win that game today because when it got down to crunch time that thing got loud out there and that helped us win this game.” Average attendance for the season was a little over 38,000 a game.

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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