The Syracuse Orange began the season with back-to-back losses. After winning their first game in three tries, they fell once again to start 1-3.
But when the Orange entered into their final Big East Conference season, the lights turned on in the Carrier Dome. The Orange did not allow a Big East foe to win inside their walls, going 3-0 at the Dome, defeating Pittsburgh, UConn, and Louisville, who was 9-0 and ranked as the ninth-best team in the country at their time of defeat.
On the road in the Big East, Syracuse had not come away with a victory since November 13, 2010, when they halted the charge of the Scarlet Knights, emerging atop Rutgers, 13-10. With almost two years in between, Syracuse finally achieved a road win in the conference this season, coming back in the final seconds to edge South Florida, 37-36, on October 27th. In four matches total away from the Dome, the Orange amounted a record of 2-2, winning against Temple to go with the aforementioned South Florida and losing to both Rutgers and Cincinnati.
The road has caused trouble, not merely in conference for the team in their recent history. The last time the Orange won in consecutive road games was also back in the 2010 season, when Syracuse was victorious over West Virginia, 19-14, on October 23rd, and Cincinnati, 31-7, on October 30th.
To end the season, the Orange traveled out of conference to visit the Tigers of Missouri, surging in the second half to win the game in its closing minutes. They followed with a win their conference win over newly-returned Temple to achieve their first back-to-back road wins in over two years.
Syracuse finished their season on a 3-0 run and despite not playing this week, they were able to move up the ranks of the Big East. With Louisville's victory over Rutgers, Louisville advanced to 5-2 while dropping Rutgers to 5-2, tying Syracuse, giving the Orange a piece of the conference championship in their finale in the Big East.
"Great for them," said Robert Drummond, who played running back for the Orange, and was a member of the undefeated 1987 team. "I told you I thought the Louisville game was the turnaround going forward."
"They believe in themselves now, and in football that is half the battle," added Drummond.
"I think it's tremendous for the program," said Rob Long, former Syracuse punter, who played under head coach Doug Marrone and with many of the players currently on the roster. "I am really happy for coach Marrone and all the coaches. I know how hard they have worked."
Long moved his focus to the seniors after speaking on the coaches, saying, "For the seniors, I think it's a great way to top off the season heading into the bowl game."
Looking to the future, Long expressed, "And for the younger players, I hope it sets a precendent of excellence and winning for the program."
"I am so happy and proud of this year's Syracuse football team," said Michael Acchione, former walk-on turned scholarship player, who played for the Orange in the first three of Marrone's four seasons, and, in turn, knows the team very well. "Coming into the season, they weren't projected to win seven games and a lot of people in this community doubted them. It means a lot to me that this team is now co-Big East champions."
Acchione spoke on his experience with members of this year's Syracuse Orange football team before ending his last season of eligibility last year. "I played with a good majority of this team and I know how hard they have worked to reach this tremendous goal," expressed Acchione. "They believed in themselves and they came out on a mission this season."
"My father and I are very proud alums and we are leaving the Big East with a bang!," Acchione added.
The former Syracuse wide receiver had a message for the team as they await their bowl. "We still got one more game to show the nation what Syracuse football is all about!," stated Acchione. "CuseNation couldn't be any prouder right now! Let's bring back some new hardware to Manley Field House!"
"I think it's awesome," said Tyler Provo, a Syracuse commit out of Florida who is looking forward to his future role as a tight end for the Orange. He finished with words that were to the point. "Be there soon."