Football

With FSU blowout behind it, Syracuse can finally talk about making a bowl game

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There are plenty of four letter words that Scott Shafer has used this season.

“Damn” is one of his favorites and has been since he first declared that Syracuse would take “the damn ACC” by storm during his introductory press conference.

The F-bomb was the word of the day when Shafer called a certain Atlantic Coast Conference head coach a “motherf*cker.”

“Ass” isn’t four letters, but he’s had no problem using that either.

But there’s been one four-letter word strictly forbidden, at least publicly, by Syracuse.

B-O-W-L.

Everything is game by game and one day at a time. There’s never anything big picture and never any win counting. But with two games to go and the Orange’s toughest game behind it, Shafer’s ready to talk.

“We’ve got two games left in the Dome and that’s key,” Shafer said. “We’ve got to get this Pitt outfit in the Dome and go to war right away. It’s going to be a big game for both sides and we look forward to jumping ahead to that game as quick as possible.”

So he didn’t actually piece together the four letters, but in the visiting press conference room at Doak Campbell Stadium, after a 59-3 loss to No. 2 Florida State (10-0, 8-0 ACC) of all times, he started talking about the mark his team needed to hit to qualify for a b*wl.

And what better time than now? SU (5-5, 3-3) never stood a chance against the Seminoles, but now it gets two winnable games at home against Pittsburgh and Boston College. The winner of Saturday’s game with the Panthers qualifies for the postseason, and the Eagles have already reached the necessary six wins.

Syracuse needed to win one of its last three, but it was always actually just one of its last two. So now it’s time to talk.

“You have two games left to get one,” SU quarterback Terrel Hunt said.

Wasn’t this always what it was going to come down to?

The Orange was never going to cruise to eight or nine wins and it was never going to stumble to eight or nine losses. FSU was an obvious loss. There was no point talking about a bowl when it wasn’t going to happen for another week or two, anyway.

And shouldn’t SU be able to get this done?

The loss to Florida State was ugly. That can’t be denied. Normally a loss by 56 points is a reason for plenty of four-letter words. Instead it was just the one.

Jerome Smith darted from the SU locker room to the team bus in an unusually hurried manner. He played his worst game of the season during the beating, but in the locker room he had the future in mind.

“The first thing he said was, ‘Hey, Our goal is still in front of us,’” running backs coach DeAndre Smith said. “So I suspect he’ll come back and have the best two weeks of his career.”

The Seminoles were simply way better. From the moment that Chief Osceola rode his horse Renegade onto Bobby Bowden Field before the game, that much was clear.

So let’s listen to Hunt and “flush this one down the toilet.” Syracuse is already doing that.

There’s a long way to go for the Orange to contend at the highest level in the ACC — that’s the biggest thing Shafer took away from Saturday’s loss — but you don’t need to be a powerhouse winning 10 games to qualify for the postseason. Six wins are fine.

Hunt brought a sense of realism to the press conference room after the loss. FSU was a chance to see where the highest bar is set. Now it’s about getting the victories against the even foes. Then maybe they can actually say that elusive four-letter word.

“We want to be 2-0 in the next ones,” Hunt said.

David Wilson is the sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at dbwilson@syr.edu or on Twitter at @DBWilson2.

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