Syracuse began the season ranked No. 22 in the AP poll with real optimism that Dino Babers and company could present a real challenge to Clemson for ACC supremacy, with the Tigers coming to the Carrier Dome and two straight competitive games between the two.
Halfway into the season now, that looks like one of the College Football Collective Intelligentsia’s biggest swings and misses of 2019.
The Orange are now 3-3 and 0-2 in ACC play after a 16-10 loss to NC State in Raleigh on Thursday night.
Syracuse was held scoreless in the first half and trailed 16-3 deep into the fourth quarter, finally coming alive to make the game closer than it appeared. Trishton Jackson finally put the Orange in the end zone with a 2-yard reception at the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter, and an NC State three-and-out gave Syracuse the ball at its own 24 with 1:30 left to win the game.
The Orange pushed into NC State territory, reaching the 39-yard line with 24 seconds remaining, when the drive ended in fitting fashion: a false start, an incomplete pass, a sack and a false start.
Tommy DeVito was sacked eight times on the night, many of them avoidable — including the last one, with open receivers in front of him and no timeouts left inside the game’s final 10 seconds — which erased much of the damage his 300 yards on 29-of-39 passing did through the air.
When combined with the sack yardage, Syracuse ran 37 times for just 41 yards while also committing 12 penalties for 59 yards.
With the loss, Syracuse has now scored 20, 6 and 10 points in its three games against Power 5 competition, all of them losses. The Orange have averaged 39 points against non-Power 5 opponents.
NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) wasn’t much better, as the score indicates. Bailey Hockman played most of the way at quarterback, completing 16-of-27 passes for 205 yards and an interception. The Wolfpack’s only touchdown came on a double pass from Hockman to wide receiver Thayer Thomas to Trent Pennix, giving the home team a 13-0 lead just before halftime. Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston led NC State’s ground efforts, combining for 115 yards on 28 carries.