Game recaps, thoughts and what mattered in the Week 9 games of the ACC college football season?
Syracuse 51, NC State 41
What Happened: Syracuse survived a wild and fun firefight, getting up 24-7 in the first quarter before withstanding the Ryan Finley air show. The NC State quarterback threw three touchdown passes highlighted by strikes to Kelvin Harmon from 74 and 12 yards out to get back in the game.
But the Orange didn’t quit, with Eric Dungey throwing three touchdown passes and running for another, putting the game away in the final moments on a short drive and a five-yard Dontae Strickland touchdown run.
What Mattered: Statistically, it was a nearly dead-even game. Syracuse outgained NC State 561 yards to 241, and the two passing games went off – Dungey and the Orange passes combined to throw for 480, and Finley 473. Syracuse moved the ball a wee bit better and controlled the clock for almost four minutes longer.
– Finley was amazing, but so was Harmon, catching 11 passes for 247 yards and two scores. The Wolfpack averaged over 18 yards per catch. The Orange averaged 16 yards per grab, with Sean Riley leading the way with ten catches for 164 yards.
– Forget about the quarterback controversy. Dungey completed 27-of-38 passes for 411 yards and three scores, and he ran for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Thoughts: Syracuse broke the long streak – Kansas was the only Power 5 program to go longer without a bowl appearance – and now it’s time to try to do even more. The Orange won’t win the Atlantic – they’re two losses behind Clemson – but if they win out against Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College, they might end up as the No. 2 team in the ACC. To dream big, beat Notre Dame, too, go 10-2, and it’s off to a New Year’s Six bowl. But for now, just getting a swag bag game is enough.
– And now the Atlantic title dreams are gone for NC State just two weeks after being unbeaten. The Pack will go bowling, and now it’s time to build up the record. They need one more win for eligibility, but they should roll through FSU and Wake Forest at home, and Louisville and North Carolina on the road to close.