Mettus: Now that Syracuse football has shown what it can be, it can’t revert to what it was

first_imgCHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — There were no fans or students rushing onto the field — the game was on the road at Boston College, after all.The Syracuse players on the field slowly congregated near the center of the field, then shifted toward the southeast corner of the stadium to greet the 30 or so fans and family members waiting. The travel band, about a quarter of the size of its full roster, competed with the louder BC alma mater.Orange head coach Dino Babers didn’t talk about the program, the community or the university during his postgame press conference. His postgame speech to the team was likely nothing like last week’s, though we’ll never get to see it.Syracuse’s 28-20 win over Boston College on Saturday didn’t feel anything like the upset of then-No. 17 Virginia Tech seven days prior. But in the context of just this season, it was nearly as important.MORE COVERAGE:AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse hangs on to defeat Boston College, 28-20Eric Dungey on scuffle: ‘Some guy’s standing over me talking smack’Outside receivers Amba Etta-Tawo and Steve Ishmael shine against BC Published on October 22, 2016 at 8:21 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img “The winner of the game (is) probably in a very good situation to have an opportunity to go bowling,” Babers said during his SportsCenter appearance on Wednesday before the game.A loss would have erased the accomplishments of the VT game for this season, but SU’s win over BC put it two wins away from a bowl game (and maybe even just one) with four games left in the season. Babers’ cake might not yet be done baking, but at this point, not making a bowl game would be a disappointment. That’s the expectation that has been set in the last two weeks.Now that Syracuse has shown what it can be, it can’t revert to what it was.“It feels good,” Orange receiver Amba Etta-Tawo said. “… Hopefully at the end of the season we’re looking at at least six wins. Bowl eligible.”Let’s take a step back.Before this season I said a 4-8 finish would mean a successful year and predicted the Orange to lose out through its final four matchups of the season. I called the Florida State game an automatic loss.Now, SU has already guaranteed at least the four-win season. And that unwinnable Florida State game looks a lot different. The Seminoles haven’t looked fantastic, beating Wake Forest by 11 and Miami by one.Jessica Sheldon | Photo EditorThe Orange has already beaten one ranked team in the Carrier Dome this year. There’s a chance fans pour onto the field and chant Babers’ name in the west end zone again.“All we proved is that we’re occasionally great,” Babers said at his press conference the Monday after the game. “And what I want this football team to be is consistently good. It bothers me that we’re not consistently good.”Two wins in a row (accomplished after BC) is more consistently good than any point since September of last year when the Orange won its first three games.SU has a bye next week. After the BC game, Babers couldn’t say which team the Orange plays next. The schedule goes No. 3 Clemson on the road, North Carolina State then No. 12 Florida State at home, and at Pittsburgh to end the year.“We’ve got to find a way,” Babers said. “We need a slingshot and a rock.”A slingshot, a rock, whatever the tools may be, it’s clear Syracuse has them stashed away somewhere. Whether it be Eric Dungey’s ability to throw around the field, the diverse receiving threats or the now timely and improved play of the defense, it’s just a matter of whether Syracuse pulls them out together and at the right time.Bowl or not, this already can’t be a disappointing season. Babers and his team have already secured what he referred to as a potentially program-changing win that turned the team into a family. Check back in a few years on that one.We’ve seen progress in the team. We’ve seen potentially what it could be.But in the now, with an achievement not seen in Syracuse in three years within reaching distance, anything but a bowl game will be a short-term disappointment. And it should be, too.Jon Mettus is an Asst. Sports Editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at or @jmettus. Commentslast_img