Orange Watch: Part I — Greatest Syracuse victories against its new ACC opponents

Diamond Ferri led SU to an upset of BC in 2004

Item: There’s plenty of victorious history in the “sports TV era” for the Orangemen and Orange against the ACC.

With the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff coming up crazily soon this weekend at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C. as the summer flies by, the Aug. 31 opener versus Penn State at MetLife Stadium will be here before you know it.

We first want to enjoy all of summer’s finest offerings before the sixth earliest (tied) football start in school history, so on that note some hazy, lazy day Orange reading about great football/basketball games of the past against the fresh ACC rivals for 2013-14 (in alphabetical order to Miami, with North Carolina to Wake Forest in Part II):

Diamond Ferri led SU to an upset of BC in 2004

Boston College-We selected a “Diamond” over a “Pearl.”  Tough to choose here because of “Pearl’s Shot” in 1984, but we’ll go with Diamond Ferri’s epic two-way performance (28 carries for 141 yards and two TD’s rushing, an interception return for a score) in the 2004 penultimate game for Paul Pasqualoni at Chestnut Hill, that thanks to the 43-17 upset unexpectedly bought the Orange a piece of the Big East title after an embarrassing loss at Temple two weeks earlier, and before an equally embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl three weeks later.

» Related: Syracuse legend Don McPherson likes SU’s move to ACC

Clemson-We’ll never forget Clemson fans in the parking lot at then-Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for the 1996 Gator Bowl mockingly asking, “What’s an Orangemen?” during the rainy pregame tailgating.  They and the No. 21 Tigers found out soon enough as the Orangemen, under the expert guidance of rookie Donovan McNabb, scored three first quarter touchdowns and were never challenged in a 41-0 blitz that nearly cost Clemson coach Tommy West his job.

Duke-As we detailed last month, in a tight game that had a NCAA Tournament feel to it in the second-half, Syracuse edged Duke 78-76 in the inaugural ACC-Big East Challenge in Dec. 1989 in a half-empty Greensboro Coliseum.  Sophomore Billy Owens was at the height of his college game in this contest, going off for 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, as Coach B beat Coach K in the first of their two meetings.

Florida State-After dropping its first two games of the 1966 season, SU won its final eight times to earn a Gator Bowl berth.  The second-to-last game of the season was against the Seminoles at Archbold Stadium, Senior Day for the great Floyd Little and his classmates.  Scoring on three 24 yard runs, Little capped off his home finale with 193 yards rushing and 22 (two, two-point conversions) of the Orangemen’s points in a 37-21 victory over FSU.

Georgia Tech-Not a lot to pick from here with a 0-2 all-time football mark against the Jackets, so we’ll go with game seven of the 2002-03 national championship season, an impressive 92-65 rout of GT at the Dome in early Dec. behind three of the best players to ever wear orange, Gerry McNamara (25 points, 10 assists), Carmelo Anthony (24 points, 11 rebounds), and Hakeem Warrick (10 points, 11 rebounds).

» Related: Meet the 2013 football team, Ashton Broyld

Maryland-In a toss-up, we’ll go with the season opener of the 1987 football campaign in the Dome over the 74-72 basketball victory in the second-round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Denver, a game between the last two national championship programs, and a victory that propelled the ‘Cuse to the Sweet 16.  The first football play from scrimmage called by Dick MacPherson  in ’87 set the tone for the second-best season in modern history, a 55 yard halfback option pass from Robert Drummond to Tommy Kane in an eventual 25-11 win against the Terps, and 11-0-1 Sugar Bowl campaign.

Miami-As we also detailed last month, like the aforementioned Floyd Little, SU’s current special assistant to the athletics director accomplished against Florida State in his ’66 home finale, Donovan McNabb saved his best for his last home game in 1998, a dominating 66-13 laugher against the ‘Canes in which he threw for two scores, ran for three more including a dandy 51 yard scamper in which he danced his way around fallen UM players, and wrap-up an Orange Bowl berth as Big East champions.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth 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.