SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS) – The buzz around Syracuse football continues this week after another fourth quarter, come-from-behind victory. The excitement is certainly warranted. After all, the Orange are off to their best start since 2018 and entered this week’s coaches poll at No. 25.
The Orange put their four-game winning streak on the line against FCS foe Wagner on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the JMA Wireless Dome. Tickets for Syracuse’s remaining home schedule are now on sale as the Orange seek their first 5-0 start since 1987.
The Orange are a perfect 19-0 against FCS foes (formerly Division I-AA) since the separation of major college football programs into two divisions in 1978. The streak includes 18-straight wins in the Dome. But Head Coach Dino Babers understands from his time at the FCS level that upsets will happen if teams take any preparation lightly.
“You know this game is, to me, a tricky game for us and our team has to really stay locked in,” Babers said. “I know that [Wagner head coach] Tom Masella is going to have his team ready to go. This makes me want to think back to a similar situation when I was at an FCS school, and we went out and played a team in California (San Diego State) and we were 21-point underdogs in 2013 and we beat them. I want to say we beat them handedly. That stuff happens. That’s why the ball is not round, it bounces funny. And we need to stay locked in and understand that that stuff does happen. It has already happened a bunch of times around the country, and we really don’t want it to happen here in Syracuse, New York. I hope the guys were listening and that they stay locked in and focused and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that they do.”
Despite the Orange’s success, Babers’ message to his squad is the same this week that it has been before every game this season.
“You want to be 1-0,” Babers explained. “I mean the example I just told you about Eastern Illinois going to San Diego State, I mean I was a part of it, I lived it. We had two coaches – Tony White was a coach on that staff, Mike Schmitt was a coach on that staff at San Diego State – and they understand that it can happen. Their coaches are capable of doing it. If you got a good coach, which Tom is, and you got a team that is motivated, that wants to shock the world and they are willing to do whatever it takes and being completely unselfish and they don’t care who gets the credit. You know miracles do happen, just check the ice.”
Syracuse enters October unbeaten for the first time since 1993. The Orange won all four of their games in September, marking the first perfect month for Syracuse during Babers’ tenure. It also marks the first time ‘Cuse has gone undefeated in a month with more than one game since the Orange went 4-0 in October during the 2001 campaign. The four wins that month were part of an eight-game winning streak for Syracuse, which ended the year with a 10-3 record and a win in the Insight.com Bowl.
It’s one thing to compare records and statistics from past teams, it’s another to evaluate similarities that don’t often show up on the stat sheet and Babers likes what he sees.
“They are just really close. It started in the summertime. They were just doing things that reminded me of really, really good teams. And after they did it a couple of times, I alerted them to it, and I said this is what really good teams do. You guys need to keep this up. But this is them, this is their time, we’re all on it for the ride. We’ll do our part and try to cross T’s and dot I’s, but they’ve got to go out there and make tackles and make plays and our job is to, while their taking the test, we’re the TAs and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure they get the right answer, without cheating, but we’re in it with them and we want them to get an A. We want them to get a good grade, but they have got to go out there and do the work.”
The Orange will look to continue their success on Orange Central/Homecoming. Dating back to 1949, Syracuse is 42-29 (.592) when welcoming back its alums.