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Bowl games, pizza boxes & the Heisman dominate the conversation as Syracuse hosts Boston College

Orange Nation

SYRACUSE, NY – OCTOBER 15: Sean Tucker #34 of the Syracuse Orange runs the ball as Trenton Simpson #22 of the Clemson Tigers looks to make a tackle during the first half at Carrier Dome on October 15, 2021 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Football, like almost every sport, is a game of bounces. If a couple here and there do not go your way, the feeling heading into a big rivalry game is going to be different. Thanks to the heroics from Garrett Shrader and Damien Alford, Syracuse is feeling rather good about themselves heading into this week’s clash with Boston College. 

And there is a good reason for that, the big goal of the 2021 season is still on the table. 

Bowl Game Bound? 

It is hard not to think about a bowl game for the Orange. SU sits two games away from the magic number of six wins needed to become eligible. Though the odds might be a coin flip.

“We have five weeks left, because of a bye, and then it’s gone. And what you do is going to matter (to) whether you get an opportunity (to play) 13. They have to rebound, they have to come back, and I think it is a lot easier, obviously, when you win than it is when you lose,” Dino Babers said during his weekly press conference Monday. 

And losing close games kind of became the norm the previous three weeks leading up to that thriller in Blacksburg. Syracuse lost three straight games by three points. Heading back to the Salt City this weekend confidence is riding high after SU figured out a way to close out a big game. 

“We’ve been building confidence every week; even when we have been losing. We’ve been steadily building confidence in what we are doing. To see it pay off this (past) weekend was a great feeling. Especially to turn the tide in that win column and build momentum toward this week,” Shrader said. 

But as recent memory points out, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to playing Boston College. That memory is even more valid when the Orange hosts the Eagles. Under Dino Babers, SU has not defeated BC when inside the dome. Their last win over Boston College at the friendly confines came in Scott Shafer’s swan song as Syracuse head coach in 2015; a 20-17 nail bitter.  

“You can’t just scratch any of these last couple games off as automatic wins or anything of that nature. That is how you get distracted. Overall, we just have to focus on one week at a time. If we win this week, our bowl hopes are alive,” said senior defensive lineman Josh Black. 

Pizza, Pizza 

This part of Central New York is known for its Salt Potatoes. The delicacy is served throughout many a food stop in the 315. But for Boston College Head Coach Jeff Hafley, pizza will always be on the brain when visiting Syracuse. 

Hafley was on the Pittsburgh coaching staff from 2006-2010 and recited a memory during his weekly press conference that might cause opposing coaches to think twice before coaching in the booth at the dome. 

Not much is known about how factual or embellished this story is, but it is hilarious. It also might be against the rules, but like I said… hilarious. 

Tucker for Heisman 

Notre Dame has Touchdown Jesus, but if you look at Josh Black’s twitter profile picture, that takes a new meaning. It suggests the reincarnation of the figure resides in the Syracuse backfield.  

And I can see why the talk of Sean Tucker being considered for the Heisman is taking off locally. Tucker is number one in the land when it comes to rushing and second overall in total yards. Those numbers hit you in the face. But it doesn’t mean everyone else correlates that with the Heisman. 

“He should definitely be in the conversation. He leads the country in yards. I mean, why shouldn’t he be? Obviously, we are going to get some bad looks because we’re Syracuse football. Any other team it would have been, ‘Oh, they are top three in the nation.’ But the way he is going, the sky is the limit for him. Who knows, he could have a 200-yard games the rest of this season. He’s an unreal talent, unreal player, great person as well,” Black said of his teammate. 

There is no disputing Tucker’s excellence this season, but I know do not share the same fervor for Tucker’s candidacy. 

You have to ask yourself a few questions about the trophy. What does the Heisman winner convey? Is it the best player in the country? Is it the person with the best stats? Is it the most valuable player? 

When it comes to stats, it is hard to debate that. His statistics are great and if Tucker does what Black suggests, and finishes the season with 200 yards every game, then yes, I could very well see him being a finalist. 

As for being the best player or the most valuable player, I think those share the same answer. Sean Tucker might not be the best player nor the most valuable player on his own team. 

You take one look at the turnaround for Syracuse, and I think the evidence points towards the guy behind center… Garrett Shrader. Ever since Dino made the switch from number 11 to number 16, hope has been restored to this season. Shrader hides any inefficiencies this offense might have, and he opens the field for guys like Tucker. As we saw against Virginia Tech, as Shrader goes, so does Syracuse. 

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