Orange Watch: Syracuse football has chance for encore against Top 10 team

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Eight days after the biggest win in over three decades, SU can make program history winning at Miami on Saturday.

Item: It’s never happened in the 128 seasons of Syracuse football, beating two A.P. Top Ten ranked teams in consecutive games. But following a Top Five all-time Dome victory last Friday night, sending defending champions and second ranked Clemson back home with its first defeat in almost a year, next up is a somewhat familiar face (22 games in the all-time series), albeit an opponent the Orange hasn’t met in 14 years, No. 7/8 Miami Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. ET / ESPN).

“It’s a big moment. As the millennials would say ‘that’s a trending moment’ everyone’s watching, the social media is buzzing, everybody knows what’s going on, it’s big,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said at his Monday press conference wrapping up his thoughts on one of the school’s biggest victories in the Post World War II era, a day before beginning the implementation of a game plan to face the undefeated Hurricanes on the road.

Where do we think the Clemson win ranks in the Dome’s 38 year history? Picking the top five victories would look like this:

No. 1 West Virginia (1987) – Capping off just the second undefeated regular season in the modern era, hours after accepting a Sugar Bowl bid.

No. 2 Nebraska (1984) – It was a program changer to beat the No. 1 ranked team that crushed SU 63-7 the year before, and launched the ‘Cuse into bowl games in five of the next six seasons.

» Related: Syracuse football showing improvement in all three phases

No. 3 Penn State (1987) – Two weeks of hype were justified by the opening play 80 yard touchdown pass, and after 16 long years, the Nittany Lions finally slept that night and SU went to 6-0 and the No. 9 ranking.

No. 4 Clemson (2017) – We still need more time to place this monster win into its proper perspective, but after just 19 games leading the program’s resurgence, Dino Babers coached his team to provide the “evidence” to his day-one “belief without evidence” mantra.

No. 5 Florida (1991) – The Gators were a Top 5 team that is until Kirby Dar Dar returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

Bringing his distinctive brand of football to his third head coaching stop in a 29 year overall career, Babers has seen how far this SU team has come in such a short time, considering the unthinkable loss to Middle Tennessee State occurred only five weeks ago. Now it’s the challenge of knocking off Miami, one of just eight remaining undefeated ranked teams.

“Like I told them, ‘you guys messed up because you showed us how good you can play when you all play together’ so now the bar is raised again and game on,” Babers said Monday. “It (the winning euphoria) was fabulous.”

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.

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