Orange Watch: Two games left to showcase emergence of Syracuse football

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Eric Dungey (2) looks for a receiver during the first half of Syracuse's game against Wagner. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: We can’t speculate if an injured Eric Dungey will play in Syracuse’s regular season finale or bowl game (“I’m hopeful that he will be available,” Dino Babers coyly said Monday of Dungey’s playing status after leaving the Notre Dame game in the first quarter), so if the Tommy DeVito era indeed begins Saturday at Boston College (12:00 p.m. ET / ESPN-Sirius XM), we’ll have an intense rivalry game and a bowl matchup against a competitive team from a Power Five conference as a preview to him leading the offense next season. That side of the ball loses six players to eligibility among the starters, while there’s only four seniors on defense (DB Antwan Cordy has been granted a sixth year of eligibility if he chooses.) departing after the bowl game, plus the two kicking specialists return. Wins equal being noticed on the recruiting trail, and a chance to finish 9-3 is boosting the program’s prospective talent pool in the upcoming recruiting cycles.

After keeping mum between the North Carolina and N.C. State games last month about which of his quarterbacks would be taking the snaps for his offense, of course Dino Babers isn’t going to reveal anything about Dungey’s availability, or not, this time to counterpart Steve Addazio and Boston College.

In the days leading up to the most critical meeting between the two old Eastern Independent and Big East rivals since they joined forces in the ACC in 2013, Babers has been preaching a 5-1 finish to the second half of the season to his team, and second-place finish behind national title contender Clemson in the Atlantic Division.

» Related: Bowl outlook for Syracuse following loss to Notre Dame

“I think we’re ahead of schedule,” Babers said Monday assessing his timetable for bringing in enough depth of ACC-caliber talent to fit the program’s cache’s (size, speed, smarts, academic progress, and community involvement) to compete for conference titles and national recognition, and after falling to the No. 3 ranked Irish 36-3 Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s (this season’s results that are) going to effect the 2019 recruiting class in a positive way. How this football team finishes in 2018, with the start of the 2019 (recruiting cycle), is really what’s going to cement the 2020 (recruiting) class. So, these (are) exciting times for Syracuse University.”

It’s been five long seasons since a December to remember with a bowl game trip, 17 even longer years since being ranked playing in the postseason. Exactly where the Orange will be traveling next month still remains in limbo with the full slate of league teams playing this weekend and a couple more games on Dec. 1.

Win Saturday and Syracuse, with nine victories, is likely headed to the Camping World Bowl in warm Orlando, but either way no worse than a trip to Charlotte, El Paso, Nashville, or New York (again).

Orange Nation would likely agree with Baber’s timetable assessment. The three season-long trip to arrive at one of those aforementioned bowl destinations is ahead of schedule.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 545 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.