Orange Watch: No time like present for Syracuse football to take down Florida State

HarrisCatch_Wagner
Syracuse receiver Taj Harris makes a catch for a touchdown. Mandatory Photo Credit: The Juice Online, Kicia Sears.

Item: It’s been 52 long years since Syracuse recorded its only football victory against Florida State, and sure, the Orange were in a position to force overtime in last season’s 27-24 defeat at Tallahassee, but other than a 17-13 loss in 2004 the other eight defeats have pretty much been one-sided with FSU winning by an average of 42-12, and, of course, SU is 0-5 against FSU in the ACC. As the team’s meet Saturday afternoon (12:00 p.m. ET / ESPN) in front of what hopefully will be a large and loud Dome crowd doing its part to help SU protect “Our House”, the ‘Cuse will eye its third “major trophy” home victory in consecutive seasons under Dino Babers after defeating Virginia Tech and Clemson in 2015 and ’16.

Following the program’s monumental and convincing victory over Penn State in 1987, it was quite a postgame scene when several of Dick MacPherson’s players, guided by Mac’s behind-the-scenes intentions, lifted Hall of Famer Ben Schwartzwalder aloft and carried him across part of the field to include him in the celebration of beating the longtime rival Nittany Lions for the first time in 16 equally long years, since Coach Ben’s 1970 team won at State College.

We don’t know if all-time Syracuse great Floyd Little, now retired in Las Vegas after his 2011-16 stint in the athletic department, will be back in town Saturday, but if the Orange (2-0, 0-0) were to knock off the slightly favored Seminoles (1-1, 0-1) to jump out to only the third 3-0 start in 27 seasons, then as you’ll see below in a capsule of the previous non-ACC SU-FSU meetings, it would be appropriate to carry Little off the field as well.

1966 – The only Syracuse win in the series. Little, in his final home game of his dominating senior season, scored on three 24 yard touchdown runs and gained 193 yards on the ground against the ‘Noles at Archbold Stadium in the 37-21 victory. Fellow Hall of Fame back Larry Csonka gained 65 yards and scored a touchdown.

» Related: Syracuse football played its ‘most complete game’ in rout of Wagner

1978 – Despite the school-generated hype of senior quarterback Bill Hurley (who’s school rushing record for a quarterback with Terrel Hunt was broken last week by Eric Dungey) for the Heisman Trophy, it was shockingly not to be. On SU’s first series of the opening game of the season at Archbold, on the seventh play marching into FSU territory, Florida State linebacker Reggie Herring tackled Hurley along the sideline and broke three of his ribs, essentially taking the wind out of the sail of the ’78 season as FSU romped 28-0.

1989 – The Seminoles flashy freshman special teams wiz Terrell Buckley, wowed the Dome crowd with an apparent fair catch on a punt in the third quarter in the eventual 41-10 Florida State victory. Hesitating just slightly to throw off the SU coverage team, Buckley then took off with the ball up the middle of the field capping off a 70 yard score. Three minutes later, LeRoy Butler intercepted a Bill Scharr pass and raced 88 yards for a score sending many of the faithful to the exits.

1991 – After upsetting Florida in the Dome two weeks earlier, it wasn’t hard for longtime FSU coach Bobby Bowden to have his team focused as the Orangemen visited Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time. In a drenching rain, SU speedster Quadry Ismail quieted the 61,000 plus on hand with a 95 yard kickoff return for a score to give SU a 14-7 first quarter lead. But it went downhill from there as the Orange defense was shredded for 642 yards in the 46-14 FSU romp.

2004 – Due to scheduling difficulties Syracuse needed a home game for the ’04 season, which turned out to be the final of Paul Pasqaloni’s 14 years running the program. Florida State agreed to play at the Dome for a return game in Tallahassee the next year, and the Seminoles escaped with a 17-13 win thanks to two touchdowns and 164 yards rushing from Leon Washington. SU’s versatile Diamond Ferri was a defensive force with a fumble recovery and interception, but the Orange offense struggled with just 58 rushing yards.

2005 – In the first of Greg Robinson’s disastrous four seasons, and on a hot and humid Oct.1, in Florida’s capital city, the Orange came out in white jerseys and pants for the first time to try and stay cool. FSU’s defense though had other thoughts sacking Perry Patterson seven times in a dominating defensive performance, while quarterback Drew Weatherford threw three touchdowns in a 38-14 ‘Noles victory.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 523 Articles
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.