Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) avoids Wake Forest Demon Deacons defensive back Luke Masterson (12) during the second half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Unranked but hardly toothless, Clemson visits Syracuse on Friday

Despite the fact that Clemson has lost two regular-season games and has been dropped from the Top 25 for the first time since 2014, Syracuse coach Dino Babers scoffs at the notion that the Tigers are anything less than formidable.

“What have they got — about 150 stars over there?” said Babers, whose team plays host to Clemson in a nationally televised game Friday night on ESPN. “And now you’re saying that they’re no good? That’s the Clemson Tigers over there, man. Come on. Sheesh.

“Clemson has the best personnel in the conference. Clemson always has the best personnel in the conference. If it’s going to change, it’s going to take a while.”

Clemson (3-2, 2-1 ACC) has lost to two ranked teams — a 10-3 decision to now-top-ranked Georgia on Sept. 4 and a 27-21 double-overtime defeat at No. 22 N.C. State on Sept. 25.

Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) remains winless in league play, but their two setbacks have both been by three points, including a 40-37 overtime loss against unbeaten Wake Forest on Saturday.

“They’re not much different than us — they’re two plays from being 5-1,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’re talking about last-play, overtime games that have gone down to the wire.

“Syracuse is a team that’s playing really tough on both sides of the ball. They’ve got a lot of experience. We’re trying to accomplish something we haven’t done, and that’s win on the road this year. It’s a huge challenge, a tough place to play.”

Swinney knows that all too well. In 2017, Syracuse stunned a No. 2-ranked Clemson team 27-24 on a Friday night in the Carrier Dome, prompting a post-game visit to the Orange locker room from Swinney.

“Last time we beat them he came in and spoke to the team, which I thought was really cool,” Babers said. “Our relationship is good. I think he does it the right way. I like his values. I like what his kids stand for. You can see he does a good job of raising young men.”

The Tigers’ loss of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne as well as their top two receivers to the NFL has led to some offensive struggles this season. Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who shined in two games as a replacement for Lawrence last season, has struggled, ranking last in the ACC in passing efficiency.

Clemson’s offense ranks last in the ACC in scoring at 20.0 points per game, but the Tigers’ defense is first in the league, allowing only 11.5 points per game.

That defense could be challenged by the Orange, who have an emerging star in running back Sean Tucker, who leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 165.8 per game.

“He’s special,” Swinney said. “He’s explosive, he’s fast, got great vision and power in the hole, got great change of direction.”

Swinney said he also is impressed by Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader, who accounted for 338 yards of total offense — 160 passing with two TDs and 178 rushing with another touchdown in the overtime loss to Wake Forest.

“This guy can run,” Swinney said of the transfer from Mississippi State, who became the starter just three weeks ago. “Sometimes I think they just tell everybody to go deep and then he just runs. He’s breaking tackles. If you’re not on point with this guy, it’s 40 yards, because he can run away from you.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson (5) catches the ball as Syracuse Orange defensive back Jason Simmons (14) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Wake Forest edges Syracuse in overtime

Sam Hartman’s third touchdown pass of the game to A.T. Perry went for 22 yards, giving No. 19 Wake Forest a 40-37 overtime victory against host Syracuse on Saturday.

Wake Forest (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is the ACC’s only unbeaten team.

The Orange scored first in overtime on Andre Szmytz’s 38-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons won it on their second play of the extra session.

Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) forced overtime on Garrett Shrader’s 28-yard pass to Sean Tucker with 21 seconds left in regulation.

Christian Beal-Smith ran for a 10-yard touchdown with 3:28 remaining, and the Demon Deacons converted a two-point conversion on Hartman’s pass to Jaquarii Roberson for a 34-27 edge.

Ja’Sir Taylor then recovered a Syracuse fumble, but the Orange got the ball back and moved 94 yards in 11 plays to tie the score.

The Orange had defeated Wake Forest in 2019 in overtime.

Hartman, who threw for 330 yards and the three TDs on Saturday, and Perry connected for two long touchdown plays earlier in the game.

Perry had 137 yards on his three receptions, and Roberson finished with 135 receiving yards on nine catches.

Wake Forest overcame big rushing outings from Shrader (178 yards on 29 carries) and Tucker (153/26). Shrader also threw for two touchdowns.

Syracuse, which lost for the second week in a row, had a chance to expand a one-point lead, but Szmyt missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt with 7:13 left.

Earlier in the half, Hartman’s 69-yard scoring pass to Perry had given the Demon Deacons a 26-21 lead at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter.

Tucker’s 14-yard run enabled the Orange to regain the lead.

Shrader, who gained 111 rushing yards in the first half, ran for a 5-yard touchdown to finish a 10-play drive in the second quarter. He ran for 31 yards on the drive, which resulted in the Orange going up 21-10.

Hartman’s 1-yard run with 48 seconds left in the half closed the gap.

Syracuse had raced to a 14-3 lead, with Shrader’s 24-yard pass to Anthony Queeley coming on the second play of the second quarter. Earlier, Tucker ran 6 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Wake Forest opened the scoring on Nick Sciba’s 22-yard field goal. The Demon Deacons’ first touchdown came on their fourth possession when Hartman connected with Perry on a 46-yard play.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2020; Syracuse, NY, USA;  Syracuse Orange wide receiver Taj Harris (3) after a reception in the first half during a game against Liberty on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
 Mandatory Credit: Dennis Nett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse WR Taj Harris entering transfer portal

Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris is entering the transfer portal.

The junior made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday and Orange coach Dino Babers confirmed it Monday.

An All-ACC third-team selection in 2020, Harris has two years of eligibility remaining.

Harris did not travel with the team for Saturday’s 33-30 loss at Florida State.

He caught 16 passes for 171 yards in three games this season, raising his career totals to 151 receptions for 2,028 yards and 10 touchdowns since 2018.

Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 ACC) hosts No. 19 Wake Forest (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday afternoon.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Garrett Shrader (16) leaps over the line of scrimmage to score a touchdown against the Liberty Flames in the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Szmyt boots last-second FG to lift Syracuse past Liberty

Andre Szmyt kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired, lifting Syracuse to a dramatic 24-21 victory over visiting Liberty on Friday night.

The Orange (3-1) needed Szmyt’s game-winner after blowing a pair of 14-point leads and the kick was set up by a terrific defensive sequence when Liberty appeared to have the momentum.

With 3:35 remaining at the Liberty 37, Flames quarterback Malik Willis was flushed out of the pocket. Syracuse lineman Cody Roscoe chopped the ball out and the fumble was recovered by linebacker Mikel Jones at the Liberty 30.

Syracuse running back Sean Tucker gained 168 yards on a career-high 31 carries and also had a touchdown. Tucker also finished with 195 yards of total offense as Syracuse totaled 225 yards on the ground.

Garrett Shrader made his first start for Syracuse and completed 6-of-15 passes for 77 yards and also had a pair of TD runs.

Willis was 14 of 19 for 205 yards and three TDs but also was sacked six times. Willis also rushed for 50 yards on 16 attempts as the Flames (3-1) lost for only the second time in its past 17 games.

Shrader’s 1-yard leap over the middle with 13:40 remaining in the second quarter capped a 12-play, 92-yard drive to give the Orange a 7-0 lead. Tucker’s 27-yard run down the left side opened a 14-0 lead with 9:51 remaining in the second quarter.

The Liberty got within 14-7 when Willis connected with Shedro Louis for a 7-yard TD with 93 seconds remaining but Syracuse opened a 21-7 lead with 9:46 remaining in the third when Shrader faked a handoff and rushed up the middle for a 10-yard score.

Liberty finally got a drive going and was within 21-14 on a 23-yard TD by CJ Daniels, who just stayed in bounds with 2:57 remaining.

The Flames tied it at 21-all 29 seconds into the fourth when Willis connected with DeMario Douglas for a 33-yard strike. Liberty nearly took its first lead but Douglas’ 4-yard TD was overturned via replay and Syracuse’s defense stuffed Willis on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball in front of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) on his way to the end zone for a touchdown during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker, Syracuse aim to solve Liberty defense

Sean Tucker produced a terrific performance for Syracuse on the ground and in the passing lanes, but the second-year running back and the rest of the Orange are about to encounter a step up in the opposing defense.

The Orange lost at home last year to Liberty and hope to figure out a way to solve one of the most effective defenses in the FBS on Friday night when the teams square off in Syracuse.

Syracuse (2-1) owns wins over Ohio and FCS foe Albany sandwiched around a 17-7 loss to Rutgers. Tucker heads into Friday with 367 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to go along with seven catches and 148 yards and a TD.

Five of those TDs occurred Saturday when Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany. Tucker is up to 993 career rushing yards in his first 12 games and last week he totaled 253 total yards (121 receiving, 132 rushing), becoming the first player to rush for at least 100 yards and have 100 receiving yards in school history.

“It was just seeing a lot of my O-line blocking,” Tucker said. “They were blocking hard all game and giving me opportunities to get to the second level and just run by everyone.”

Tucker gained 111 yards last season when Liberty beat Syracuse 38-21, and this time he encounters a defense that is eighth nationally in yards allowed per game (234), 12th in points allowed (12.3 per game) and 10th in rushing yards per game (53.5).

Liberty (3-0) sandwiched a pair of routs around a 21-13 win at Troy and is led by Malik Willis, who threw for four touchdowns and completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and rushed nine times for 77 yards in Saturday’s 45-17 win over Old Dominion.

“To this point this year, probably so (that it was his best game so far this season),” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze said. “He took two sacks that he should have thrown the ball away on. Other than that, I thought he was pretty dang good.”

So far this year, Willis has totaled 838 yards of offense (613 passing/225 rushing) and 11 TDs (seven passing/four rushing). In last year’s win over Syracuse, Willis completed 16 of 20 passes for 182 yards and also rushed 12 times for 58 yards.

The Flames are 13-1 in their past 14 games and 21-6 since a 24-0 loss to Syracuse in their 2019 season opener.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs with the ball past the tackle attempt of Albany Great Danes defensive back Tyler Carswell (2) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Tucker scores five TDs as Syracuse smokes Albany

Sean Tucker scored a career-high five touchdowns and totaled a career-best 253 yards of offense as host Syracuse cruised to a 62-24 rout of Albany on Saturday afternoon to remain unbeaten against FCS opponents.

Tucker had three catches for 121 yards and gained 132 yards on 13 carries. He caught a 72-yard TD and rushed for his other four TDs, including a career-long 56-yard score.

The Orange (2-1) bounced back from a 17-7 loss to Rutgers last week and improved to 19-0 against FCS teams.

Syracuse held a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes in, led 21-10 after the opening quarter and built a 45-10 lead by halftime against the Great Danes (0-3).

Tucker scored on runs of 8 and 56 yards in the first quarter. The sophomore running back caught a 72-yard TD in the second and added a 12-yard TD before halftime.

Tucker got his final touchdown when he raced in from 26 yards out less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito started the game before being replaced by Garrett Shrader. DeVito completed 6 of 9 passes for 147 yards while Shrader was 11-for-15 for 190 yards.

The Orange played without leading receiver Taj Harris due to an undisclosed injury and saw nine players catch a pass on a day in which they totaled 623 yards of offense.

Albany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler completed 7 of 13 passes for 69 yards and was sacked five times before being replaced by Joey Carino, who had a touchdown pass and a touchdown run. The Danes finished with 135 yards of offense

Tucker opened the scoring with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter and then rumbled for 56 yards to make it 14-0 nearly 3 1/2 minutes later. After Albany scored on a 37-field goal by Dylan Burns and 20-yard interception return by defensive back Christian Lewis, the Orange scored the game’s next 48 points.

Alford’s 73-yard catch made it 21-10 with 2:07 left in the first quarter and Andre Szmyt booted a 48-yard field goal early in the second.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse visits Ohio

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ohio averaged 216.7 yards rushing per game and RB De’Montre Tuggle led the way with 7.6 yards per carry, 134.3 per game, and accounted for seven scores. Stopping the run will be a primary concern for the Orange, who gave up 32.7 points and 209.2 rushing yards per game last season.

“They remind me of old Nebraska without the option,” Babers said. “They understand the scheme. There is no hesitation when they’re going somewhere. It’s old-school football. I can appreciate that.”

Syracuse was a miserable 1-10 last fall and Babers has had back-to-back losing seasons heading into his sixth with the program. DeVito (593 passing yards, four TDs) and Shrader will work behind an offensive line returning seven players with starting experience.

Syracuse is a slight favorite coming in and is 2-0 all-time against Ohio, but the two teams haven’t played since 1921. The Bobcats haven’t knocked off an ACC opponent since 2005, when they topped visiting Pitt in overtime in Solich’s first home game at OU.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) runs as Syracuse Orange wide receiver Sharod Johnson (8) pursues in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Book (5 TDs) fuels No. 2 Notre Dame in rout of Syracuse

Ian Book recorded five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) to help No. 2 Notre Dame pull away for a 45-21 win over visiting Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

Book completed 24 of 37 passes for 285 yards. Wide receiver Javon McKinley caught all three of his touchdown throws to highlight his seven-catch, 111-yard performance.

Notre Dame (10-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) completed a perfect regular season and will head to the ACC championship game scheduled for Dec. 19.

Rex Culpepper completed 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Orange. Syracuse (1-10, 1-9) lost its eighth game in a row and gave up 30-plus points for the seventh time during that skid.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season following his 20-carry, 110-yard performance.

The Fighting Irish got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-3 early in the second quarter following an 18-yard touchdown pass from Culpepper to Anthony Queeley. The play capped a 10-play, 62-yard drive to give Syracuse brief hope for an upset.

Notre Dame regrouped late in the first half, reeling off three touchdowns in the final 3:18 to build a 24-7 advantage.

Book started the scoring binge with a 28-yard rushing touchdown. He dropped back in the pocket and scanned the field before deciding to keep the ball for a sprint down the right sideline and plunging across the goal line.

The Fighting Irish signal-caller followed his rushing touchdown with a pair of passing scores to McKinley. The two connected for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:30 left in the first half and a 28-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining.

Syracuse struck first after halftime on a 40-yard touchdown run by Sean Tucker to trim the deficit to 24-14.

Notre Dame answered with a 21-0 run to seize a 45-14 lead.

Book kept the ball again for a 17-yard rushing score with 6:32 to go in the third quarter. He then found McKinley for a third time — this one for a 26-yard score — with 1:07 remaining in the frame.

Chris Tyree punctuated Notre Dame’s high-scoring day with a 94-yard rushing touchdown with 6:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

Syracuse capped the scoring with an 80-yard touchdown from Cooper Lutz with 5:33 to go.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams (23) with the ball as North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Kyler McMichael (1) and linebacker Chazz Surratt (21) defend in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Notre Dame can’t overlook slumping Syracuse

No. 2 Notre Dame will look to remain unbeaten when it hosts Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Ind.

The Fighting Irish already have clinched a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by virtue of a scheduling change this week. Notre Dame (9-0, 8-0 ACC) likely will face No. 3 Clemson (8-1, 7-1) in the Dec. 19 game.

A huge showdown on the horizon could lead the Fighting Irish to overlook this weekend’s matchup against Syracuse (1-9, 1-8), which sits at the bottom of the conference standings. But the Fighting Irish have proved so far that they can avoid letdowns, with seven of their nine victories coming by double digits.

Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams said he never would have expected a ticket to the ACC title game.

“It’s crazy,” said Williams, whose team joined the ACC as a full-time member this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the independent school to search for a conference partner. “You come to Notre Dame, and you don’t think that you are going to play in any conference games. But now look, we are in the conference championship for the first time in Notre Dame history and the first time ever in my career.

“This is a goal we as a team have been preaching on since we joined the ACC, that we were going to come in here and we were going to compete for an ACC championship no matter what it was. So I feel like now that we are at that goal — or not yet, because we’ve still got Syracuse — we see that goal in the future that we just can’t forget.

“We can’t forget that we’ve still got to keep working to get to that goal. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

Williams leads the Fighting Irish with 901 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through nine games. Running backs Chris Tyree (350 yards, 2 TDs) and C’Bo Flemister (293 yards, 5 TDs) also contribute to a dominant ground game.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book is a dual threat who could challenge Syracuse’s defense. Book has thrown for 2,097 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception, and he has rushed for 412 yards and six touchdowns.

Wideout Ben Skowronek has five touchdown catches for the Fighting Irish, while tight end Michael Mayer and wide receiver Avery Davis have two touchdown catches apiece.

Syracuse has dropped seven games in a row, including a 36-29 defeat last week against North Carolina State. The Orange have allowed 30-plus points in six of the past seven games.

Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper will try to move on from an embarrassing gaffe a week ago in which he spiked the ball on fourth-and-goal with five seconds remaining.

“One mistake didn’t win or lose a game,” Orange coach Dino Babers said in defense of his quarterback. “There were other mistakes made during that game, and people need to realize that.”

On the season, Culpepper has thrown for 843 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Running back Sean Tucker leads the Orange with 525 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The top option in the passing game is wide receiver Taj Harris, who has 50 catches for 664 yards and five touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Micale Cunningham (3) looks to pass against the Syracuse Orange during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville shuts down Syracuse, rolls to 30-0 rout

Malik Cunningham threw for a touchdown and ran for another to lift host Louisville to a convincing 30-0 victory over Syracuse on Friday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game.

Cunningham completed 19 of 28 passes for 219 yards with a pair of interceptions for the Cardinals (3-6, 2-6 ACC), who controlled the contest despite committing three turnovers in the first half.

Despite its miscues, Louisville finished with a pronounced edge in total yards (413-137), first downs (26-7) and time of possession (41 1/2 of the game’s 60 minutes).

The Cardinals’ Braden Smith recorded team highs in catches (seven) and receiving yards (65) and Tutu Atwell had a touchdown grab to send Syracuse (1-8, 1-7) to its sixth consecutive loss.

Freshman Jalen Mitchell rushed for a touchdown in the first game since fellow Louisville running back Javian Hawkins announced that he was opting out of the remainder of the season in preparation for the 2021 NFL Draft. Hawkins had ranked third in the ACC with 822 yards rushing.

Syracuse freshman JaCobian Morgan completed just 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards with an interception before sustaining an apparent head/neck injury in the third quarter. Morgan was hurt while being sacked by Yasir Abdullah.

James Turner converted field-goal attempts from a career-long 50 and 40 yards out to stake Louisville to an early 6-0 lead.

The Cardinals forced a turnover on the kickoff following the second field goal, with Ean Pfeifer recovering a fumble after Marlon Character stripped the ball from Nykeim Johnson. Mitchell capped a six-play, 31-yard drive by rushing up the middle from 2 yards out for his first career touchdown.

Cunningham scooted into the end zone from 4 yards out on the next possession to push Louisville’s advantage to 20-0 just before halftime. Cunningham’s rushing touchdown was his sixth of the season and the 17th of his career.

Cunningham completed an 11-play, 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Atwell midway into the third quarter. Atwell’s touchdown reception was the 20th of his career.

Turner added a 33-yard field goal to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media