SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS) – The eyes of the college football world will be on Syracuse on Friday night when it hosts ACC foe Virginia at 7 p.m. in the JMA Wireless Dome. The Orange are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Purdue and will look to go 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2018.
‘Cuse and UVA get the national television spotlight, and will be the only game featuring power five opponents in action on the evening. For Orange fans, it’s an opportunity to show off the big game environment that makes the Loud House earn its name.
“First of all, I thought that the fans were really good on Saturday,” Babers said of the Purdue crowd. “Saturday at 12, I don’t know if they just woke up or they didn’t go to sleep, but I was more than satisfied with the noise they pumped in. Now this Friday night at 7 o’clock – we need to bring it. I mean the whole country needs to see exactly what it is like to go to school here and be a part of what’s going on in the Dome and in the Loud House.”
The Orange are no strangers to playing under the lights on national television on Friday nights. Syracuse played on Friday night twice last season and is 7-4 on Fridays under the direction of head coach Dino Babers. The wins include an upset of No. 2 Clemson in 2017 and a game-winning field goal in the closing seconds against Liberty in 2021. Babers appreciates the atmosphere Orange Nation has helped create in the Loud House in the first two games and hopes to see more of them on Friday night.
When asked if the fans have played a part in the two home victories this season, Babers simply had this to say:
“I know it’s had a big impact and I want it to be a bigger impact. We need more.”
Virginia enters the game with a 2-1 record and will start conference play against the Orange. Head coach Tony Elliott is in his first season at the helm of the UVA program, but he is very familiar with Syracuse as he served on the coaching staff at Clemson from 2011-21.
The Orange defense will once again face one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Brennan Armstrong. He was a semifinalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien Awards last season when he threw for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns. The senior became Virginia’s all-time leader in passing yards last week against Old Dominion.
“We have a very serious opponent this week,” Babers said. “Coach Elliot is in his first season with the University of Virginia. We know what that team did last year and obviously they have very, very good personal and an outstanding quarterback in Brennan Armstrong. And once again, just like [Louisville’s] Malik [Cunningham], just like the young man from Purdue [Aidan O’Connell], we are playing some of the top quarterbacks in the country and we expect it to be a close game again.
“Tony Elliot is good. He has been on championship teams. He’s a fabulous coach. I got to meet him, he’s a fine young man and I am sure he is ready for one of those wins to happen. They had the two nice wins – close wins that teach teams how to win. They had the performance that they didn’t like a little bit out there in Champaign, but they’re coming in here and he’s been in this place, and he’s been in this locker room plenty of times. So, he is very familiar with us. Hopefully it will be one of those situations when we’re happy when it’s all said and done.”
The community is still buzzing about last Saturday’s victory against Purdue that featured a combined 42 points in the fourth quarter. Syracuse, which didn’t lead until that fateful fourth quarter, sealed the victory on Garrett Shrader’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Oronde Gadsden II with seven seconds on the clock. While the fans may be looking ahead, Babers know his players are focused on the task at hand on Friday.
“The bottom line is they need to lock in and focus on the process and the process is being 1-0 every week,” Babers said. “The team understands when the train left at the end of August who was on the train and who wasn’t on the train and when I say that I mean players, media, family members, community, roommates, next door neighbors – we all know who was on the train. And now, with where we are at, it seems like there are a whole bunch of extra cars on the back of the train that were not there before. They know the difference and if they keep doing the process and they stay with that and they understand that we play one team a week, and this is a short week, it will give us our best opportunity to win. Doesn’t mean we will, but it will give us our best opportunity to give our best foot forward.”
A victory on Friday night would give the Orange their best start since 2018 and just the seventh 4-0 start since 1942 and the first 2-0 start in ACC play since joining the league in 2013.