SYRACUSE, N.Y. - On a day when Syracuse honored three Big East Championship teams from the 90s, the Orange played like a team looking to compete for a conference title.
The Orange put together one of their most complete games in a long time, beating Florida State 30-7.
“I thought it was a fantastic game by the young men,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “It’s just one game, let’s not get overboard. We are 1-0 in the ACC, it gives us a chance, that’s what it does.”
Each of the past three years the Orange have pulled out a big win in the Carrier Dome.
Two years ago they beat Virginia Tech. A season ago they beat Clemson. And this year they beat Florida State, for the first time since 1966.
While the Orange have had big wins the past two seasons, Babers felt like there was something different on Saturday afternoon.
“It was a lot more complete win,” Babers said. “To get a win like this, a game where it was a close game into the third quarter and then we pull away late. It was very satisfying as a coach.”
The Orange knew what they were up against when they took on Florida State.
Yes, it was a Seminoles team that lost their opener to Virginia Tech, and struggled against an FCS team last week, but it’s also a team that is loaded with talent.
“Those are four and five star guys, and well coached,” Babers said. “To get a win like this we need to enjoy this and then get back to work.”
The past couple of seasons the Orange have had a lot of success on offense, but on Saturday it was the defense that really stepped up.
Early on the Orange struggled to finish drives on offense, settling for a couple of field goals, and missing a field goal, in the first half.
Babers knew watching his defense that they just needed to get a few points to have a chance to win.
“I thought if they keep playing like this we need to get to nine, because I’m not sure they are getting more than seven,” Babers said.
At the end of the first quarter the Orange recognized their 1996, 1997 and 1998 Big East Championship teams. A lot of the former players, including former star quarterback Donovan McNabb, were in attendance.
McNabb, who went on to a Pro Bowl NFL career after leaving the Orange, feels like the program is headed in the right direction.
“The program is going in the right direction,” McNabb said. “I think the most important thing for all of us, 20 plus years, the success we had here, while we were here with Paul Pasqualoni, I think it’s going in the right direction. Obviously in a new conference, the ACC is a little different than the Big East but we did what we needed to do to win it and they’ll do the same.”
McNabb was a part of something special with Syracuse, and the Orange hope that Saturday is the start of something special with this group.