Item: Win or lose, (can there be any other outcome than exacting two seasons of revenge against a Louisville team that has been floundering?) Friday night in the Dome (7:00 p.m. ET / ESPN2/Sirius XM), can we expect a minimum attendance of, let’s say, a robust 44,444 for the home finale?
Alright, there’s some forecasted bad luck on the weather front Friday in Syracuse – 100% chance of consistent rain during the day, expected to taper off at night, or during the first half of the Syracuse-Louisville game under the Dome roof.
We’re hoping that does not detour Orange Nation from making the sometimes inconvenient trek to the west side of campus to not only cheer on the Orange in the quest for an eighth win for the first time since 2012 (no ‘Cuse team has won eight games before a bowl victory since 2001), but to show a collective appreciation for a senior class, led by freshly named season captains QB Eric Dungey and DT Chris Slayton (along with redshirt junior punter/kickoff specialist Sterling Hofrichter).
Before the game, there will be the appropriate annual parade of the departing seniors and family members walking onto to the field to be saluted by head coach Dino Babers and athletic director John Wildhack among others.
After the game, there will be the beginning of what Babers hopes to install as a new tradition intertwined with the program.
Beginning Friday night, and in the future following the final home game of the season, and after an approximate five minute cooling off period in the locker room, the seniors will return to the field and take a walk around amongst those on hand. They’ll be paying tribute in this year’s case to the class that built the foundation to match what the head coach’s vision is for the program in three sometimes painful seasons – the ‘Cuse competing at the highest level as evidenced by the No. 13 spot in this week’s College Football Playoff ranking.
“It’s something that we’d really like to start here, and it’s something that’s special for the seniors,” Babers said at the beginning of the week in explaining the post-game Senior Walk concept.
“Playing in the Dome is not like playing in a normal home venue,” he continued. “I think the young men really do appreciate it. And the fans, by showing their appreciation (staying on hand after the outcome) can really start a link that can be something special they (the seniors) can talk about for years and years to come.”
Another guaranteed memory for this year’s class would be leading the squad to a New Year’s Day Six bowl appearance, with the Fiesta and Peach in play this season, or any of the other ACC Tier One bowl games in pretty much warmer locales for the end of the year timeline.
It begins with erasing memories of Lamar Jackson making it look easy in the Dome in ’16 and bad weather causing a game delay to add injury to the game’s misery last season in the ‘Ville.
“We were in here (Sunday),” Babers explained. “I put up the scores of 2016 (62-28) and 2017 (56-10). Then I started asking how many guys in here have beaten the Louisville Cardinals?”
“Then I started putting up the yardage in those games,” he continued. “The difference between 2016 (845 to 414) and 2017 (727 to 335), and the combination of 2016 and 2017 (1,572 to 749). Then I told them we play one game at a time, and we’re in the third game of the second half of our season. And they said, ‘Okay’.”
That simple one word response says so much of what is making this a historic year of SU football in the C.F.P. era.