Syracuse Football: My favorite 7 Cuse football games of my fandom

Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse football (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Ever run into people who are excited about the upcoming Syracuse football season but also want to tell you about their past experiences? Like a Big East fan who remembers those days vividly and misses them? Or how about the uncle who saw Ernie Davis play once?

I think most of us have memories we cherish and in some cases, it’s probably why we are the fan that we are today. We watched them with family and loved rooting for the Orange with grandpa and grandma or mom or dad were alums. Or maybe you watched when Kirby Dar Dar did the reverse against Florida in 1991 and wanted to be like him.

In my case, I became a fan for multiple reasons but there are definitely games and plays I look back on fondly and smile still because they likely solidified it for me.

So before the season starts, I’ll share with you some of the games I loved most. Now I started the idea with only five but realistically there are 7 I thought of instantly and I can’t just eliminate any so it’s my “Fav 7” instead of “Fav Five.”

And along the way, I’ll share some more tweets from other Orange fans kind enough to share their favorite games as well. We all have different games for differing reasons but as you’ll see, some of the Twitter games seem to be about in line with my tastes as well. And much like you reading this, we here at Inside The Loud House are fans too and like sharing your thoughts as well.

Keep in mind, I was born in 1972 but my memories really only go back up to the 80s and the Coach Dick MacPherson era. So I’m doing this in chronological order starting with 1984 and going to 2017. Her are my Fav 7 and a few others from Twitter.

My top seven Syracuse football games over the years.

Syracuse upsets #1 Nebraska,1984

It’s 1984 and 47,280 fans packed the Dome to watch Syracuse football face the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. Syracuse football head coach Dick MacPherson is going into his 4th season as head coach after his first winning season the previous year. The defense is led by future NFL star Tim Green, who had two sacks in the game himself, and was dominant enough to hold the #1 team in the country to single digits as the Orangemen won 17-9.

I was 12 years old and this is the first time I remember a game of this magnitude and people talking about it. I was kind of coming around to really getting into football instead of just Syracuse basketball and baseball (the sport I played as a kid and watched the most). Almost 40 years later, Syracuse football is the team I’m most passionate about and this likely could have been a seed planted along with the stories of 44 and the season up next not once but twice.

Syracuse defeated #10 Penn State, 1987

So as I mentioned previously, the 1987 season was so fun to witness as a young fan. I’m 15 now and growing tired of the “Syracuse sucks” fan constantly chirping in my ear. I’m sure sometimes I got frustrated but I never could say that about my favorite team.

The Syracuse Orangemen are 6-0 and ranked 13th and playing 10th-ranked Penn State, once considered their football rival, in front of 50,011 fans in the Dome.

Syracuse football not only wins but does so decisively by the score of 48-21. My favorite quarterback Don McPherson is the senior quarterback leading them to a win that solidifies that their 6-0 start isn’t a fluke and they deserve some proper respect. And the excitement doesn’t end here as the next game will make those Orange fans who like to use the phrase “Cardiac Cuse” see that it’s not a new tradition to play it so close.

Syracuse finishes regular season undefeated by beating West Virginia in 1987

There are about 90 seconds to go in the last game of the regular season. Syracuse football is looking like they might not finish undefeated and Syracuse fans are nervous and worried. But have no fear because Syracuse scores the touchdown and converted a 2-point conversation (no tie here) to get the win against the West Virginia Mountaineers 32-31 and finish the season undefeated (only to end up going to a bowl game that ended in a tie).

That option pitch from McPherson to wide receiver Michael Owens to get the conversion and the win is still one to this day that will hype me even more than a visit to Tully’s. The Dome crowd of over 49,000 went absolutely nuts and still a memory I cherish today. It’s one of two plays I still think about the most before the Dino Babers era and the other I’ll discuss later.

Syracuse over Louisville in the CocaCola Bowl in Japan in 1989

This may not be one many think of but it was very cool for many reasons. The game took place in the Tokyo Bowl in Japan and to my knowledge is the only Syracuse bowl game in a different country.

Syracuse football defeated Louisville 24-13 thanks to two 4th-quarter touchdowns by future NFL great wide receiver Rob Carpenter (WR Rob Moore, famously made popular by a Bell Biv DeVoe
song…well an often misunderstood version of one anyway, also scored a touchdown early in the game). By the way, it should be noted that Carpenter’s touchdowns were thrown by backup quarterback Wendal Lowrey (who was technically at one point the third-string QB) and Lowrey received the game ball for his efforts.

Syracuse beats Virginia Tech on last play, 1998

And the other play that is often playing in my head is…well all I have to say is McNabb to Brominski.

That last drive period had a little bit of everything. A huge Donovan McNabb run, a great pass to get to 1st and goal, a QB sack, a roughing the QB call and a QB throwing up and then McNabb throws across his body…across the field into the end zone to a covered TE named Steve Brominski who makes one of the best catches in Syracuse history to win it for the Orange. And now the Coach P and McNabb era is suddenly reminiscent of the MacPherson/McPherson era.

Syracuse upsets ranked Virginia Tech, 2002

This game isn’t talked about as often in Syracuse football folklore as much as others but Syracuse had a losing record and Virginia Tech was ranked 7/8.

Not only that but we are talking about a triple overtime game that Syracuse football wins 50-42 with running back Damien Rhodes not only scoring the final touchdown on a 25-yard run but he also converts on the two-point conversion as well. Coach P and company started that season 1-6 and give Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer yet another big loss in the Dome.

Oh and by the way, this game also featured running back Walter Reyes, who had 118 yards and 3 TDs as well as a former New York Giant David “Helmet Catch” Tyree, who had a not too shabby 9 catches for 229 yards AND A BLOCKED PUNT!

Syracuse upsets #3 Clemson at home, 2017


This one is particularly special for many reasons but mostly because it ended this constant chatter that Syracuse couldn’t hang with the ACC powerhouses Clemson and Florida State. And the legend of Eric Dungey was forever etched into the list of favorite Syracuse football quarterbacks after this game.

Clemson comes into the Dome ranked number 2 and for so long all we heard was that Syracuse didn’t have a chance…Syracuse was out of their league…Clemson is just too big and too fast and has too many 5-star recruits for Syracuse to handle.

And I know their starting quarterback left the game injured but I want you to take a look at how effective Eric Dungey and that offense were and you’ll see that it IMO was more about what Syracuse did right. Dungey didn’t throw a single interception despite Clemson’s highly rated defense and instead threw for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns plus some valuable rushing yardage as well.

And it’s now 6 years later and we don’t hear as much about how Syracuse football can’t beat them but instead are witness to some very close games in the Babers vs. Swinney era. My only regret is losing the next one at Clemson when Syracuse had the lead for most of the game in one of the hardest environments to win but it did show this wasn’t a fluke…on any given day, Syracuse can hang with anyone in the country.

Next. Syracuse Orange: If the ACC was to expand, here are teams to consider. dark