Syracuse hoping to follow upset with win over Boston College
BOSTON (AP) When Syracuse coach Dino Babers thinks about last week's victory over Virginia Tech, he thinks about his team's future, not its past.
''Any time you take over a new program, there's going to always be that game that everyone goes back to that turns the program,'' he said this week. ''And hopefully three, four, five years down the road, people will point back to this game.''
Fresh off a 31-17 upset of the then-No. 17 Hokies, Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to Boston College (3-3, 0-3) to play its former Big East rivals. And Babers is hoping his biggest win yet in his first year as the Orange coach will be just the first of many.
''You have to embrace the energy,'' he said. ''But now when you come back to practice, you need to go back to work and you need to grab your lunch pail, put your hard hat on and go back to work. And remember why that moment in time happened, where a bunch of young men got together and played a really, really good football game.''
The Eagles are coming off an off-week after losing their previous two ACC games to Virginia Tech and Clemson by a combined score of 105-10 and extending their conference losing streak to 11 games. This weekend could be one of their best chances to end it: the last conference team BC beat was Syracuse.
Of course, that was two seasons ago, on Nov. 29, 2014.
BC coach Steve Addazio said he is not consumed with ending the skid. But he is running out of chances: After the Orange comes North Carolina State, and then BC plays No. 7 Louisville and No. 13 Florida State before finishing up with non-conference Connecticut and then the ACC finale against Wake Forest.
''(There is) pressure to win Saturday,'' he said. ''Every game has unbelievable importance. Doesn't matter who we're playing, they get all your focus.''
Here are some other things to look for in Saturday's game:
WE ARE FAMILY
In last week's upset of Virginia Tech, Syracuse had 561 yards of offense and scored 31 points against the nation's third-ranked defense. Babers said the victory made the Orange ''a family,'' and he has to make sure it stays together.
Quarterback Eric Dungey was the ACC offensive back of the week after posting a career-high 417 yards of total offense - the first player in school history to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the same game. His five 300-yard passing games is one shy of the Syracuse single-season record.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin also earned ACC honors, with 10 stops, including one for a loss.
''He seems to be the apex of their defense,'' Addazio said.
Boston College will retire linebacker Luke Kuechly's number during the game. After leading the nation in tackles for two straight seasons, Kuechly graduated as the most decorated player in BC history, collecting the Nagurski, Butkus and Lombardi awards. With the Carolina Panthers, he has recorded more than 100 tackles in each of his first four NFL seasons. He was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
Maligned the entire season before last week's breakthrough victory, the undermanned Syracuse defense rose to the occasion. The Orange defenders forced two Virginia Tech turnovers and kept the Hokies out of the end zone three times on five drives inside the Syracuse 20-yard line. Opponents are still averaging 6.5 yards per play.
Syracuse was 4 for 5 on fourth down against Virginia Tech.
''On fourth down or in the goal line, in the red zone, they're not afraid to throw the ball,'' Addazio said. ''It's not like, `Hey, we're going to line up, we're going to go get a foot or go get a yard. They might throw it; they might run it; they might QB sneak it. There's all kinds of things going on there.''
Paul Pasqualoni, who coached the Orange from 1991-2004, is on the Boston College staff as the defensive line coach. Addazio worked for Pasqualoni at Syracuse from 1995-98.
AP Sports Writer John Kekis contributed to this story from Syracuse, New York.