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Game day at Syracuse — LSU fans try to drink the town dry!

Syracuse fans get crazyI made the trip to Syracuse New York not knowing exactly what to expect on this ACC campus.   What I learned about this basketball school, is that they love their football as well.  I had never been to Syracuse, and had several misconceptions about the university.   What I learned was that football is alive and well here.    The fan base is starving for a winner, and they believe that head coach Scott Shafer can give them one.    The Orange came into the game at 3-0 and were hosting No. 8 LSU.

On the way to CooperstownIt was my first time catching LSU on the road.    I had heard all about how well they travel for road games, but was not prepared to see what I saw.    Tiger fans could be seen all over the Syracuse area on Friday night.    Many had come into town the day before.    A literal caravan of motor homes had made the 1,400 mile journey from Louisiana.   They filled the Skytop parking area on campus.   I was told that LSU had sold out their initial allotment of 5,000 tickets and then requested an additional 2,500.   An estimated 10,000 Tiger fans filled area hotels, and campgrounds.   I talked to several groups of people who came from Ohio, Massachusetts, Maryland and all points south.

Father and daughter

Father and daughter

Every Tiger fan I talked too, told me about how they always take at least one road trip during the season.   LSU Alumni Association VP Jason Ramezan told that Tigers fans are going to drink the town dry.     “I’ve gone places in the past where they’ve run out (of alcohol). They might meet their alcohol budget for the year,”  he said.   I can confirm that Syracuse did not run out of alcohol, but Tiger fans did party like rockstars.

“When you take a long trip like this, we try to do other fun things,” said Will LeBrun.    His family of five, was planning to head to Vermont the next day to see the beauty of the fall colors.   A group of four young alums were headed to Cooperstown.    Another gentleman tell me he was missing the birth of a grandchild to make the trip.   Tiger fans have high hopes for a team that many think can make the College Football Playoff.  Only time will tell, but an exciting 34-24 victory made the trip well worth it.  One has to wonder just how many fans will head to the historic Lambeau Field next season, when the Tigers open the season with Wisconsin.


It was fun seeing just how many Syracuse fans were tailgating with their LSU counterparts.    I saw two separate occasions of Syracuse fans getting their first real taste of jambalaya and crawfish.    I think the reviews were mixed, but it was still a lot of fun to be a part of.    The Syracuse band puts on what I would say is the best pre-football game show that I have seen.    They march into the quad area of the campus and use one of the historic buildings (Hendricks Chapel) as a stage.    They play for about 45 minutes prior to the game, to the delight of fans.


The Syracuse football team played their first game on November in 1889 and had immediate success in the 1890’s and early 1900’s.    That success led to the construction of a state-of-the-art stadium and Archbold Stadium was dedicated in 1907.   The 1915 team got national recognition when they were selected to play in the Rose Bowl, but declined because they had already played on the West Coast that season.


  • Vic Hanson played both Basketball and Football from 1924-27.   He is the only person who is a member of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
  • The Carrier dome built-in 1980, seats 49,262 fans,    It sits on campus and is one of only two dome stadiums that sit on campus in the FBS.   Idaho is the other.
  •  The orange have one national title.   In 1959 they finished the season 11-0 and defeated Texas in the Cotton Bowl 23-14.
  •  There are 15 former players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame.    They include, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Tim Green and Art Monk.
  • Ben Schwartzwalder is the winningest coach in team history with a 153-91-3 record.

Orange fans in front of a statue of Ernie Davis


On November 12, 2005, Syracuse University retired number 44 to honor the legacy of those who wore it.   Since 1921, 25 players wore the number with three earning All-American honors. The three most famous  were Running backs Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little.   Brown, played at Syracuse from 1954–56 and led the team to a Cotton Bowl birth.  He went on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.   Davis played for the Orange from 1959-61, and won the 1961 Heisman Trophy.    Little was a three-time All-America for the Orange. He played from 1964–66 and led Syracuse to the Sugar Bowl in 1964 and the Gator Bowl in 1966.


I had heard of Ernie Davis, and knew he was a Heisman Trophy winner.  However, I did not know his story, so I’d like to share it with you.  Ernest Davis was born December 14, 1939 in New Salem, Pennsylvania.    In 1961, he became the first African-American athlete to win the Heisman Trophy.    He also won the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy and was named the Cotton bowl MVP in 1960.   The Washington Redskins made him the first overall pick in the 1962 NFL draft, when he was immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns.   But he never played a professional football game, as he was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after.    Sadly, he died at the tender age of 23.    He was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.    n 2008 Universal pictures made a movie about Davis, entitled “The Express”.


In the early years, the biggest rivals were with Colgate and Holy Cross.   When Syracuse became a to top-tier program, the Orange developed strong rivalries with Boston College, Pittsburgh and Penn State.  Boston College and Syracuse first met in 1924, with the Orange taking the initial match-up 10-0.  , Both schools were original members of the Big East, and in 2013 the Orange followed the Eagles to the ACC.    They have now played a total of 46 times with Syracuse leading the all-time series 28-18.

The Pittsburgh rivalry dates back to 1916 and has been played annually since 1955.  Pitt currently holds a 34-30-3 advantage.   Even with the move to the ACC, the two schools continue to play annually as they have been designated as crossover rivals, with Syracuse in the Atlantic Division and Pitt in the Coastal Division.    The Penn State series has lost some of its luster in recent years, as the teams seldom meet.   The Lions own an impressive 41-23-5 mark against the Orange.


Leonard Fournette stole the show, rushing for 244 yards and two touchdowns.  I’ve seen a lot of football and he may be the best running back I have ever seen play the college game.  I remember seeing Barry Sanders play in college, but Fournette just brings a nasty edge to his game that few can duplicate.   While Fournette did his thing, the rest of the Tiger team seemed to sleepwalking due to the early start.   They led only 7-3 at the half, and many Tiger fans were a disappointed with the team’s early performance,    Riley Dixon provided a spark for the Tigers returning a punt 54 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.  Fournette then kept the game out of reach with several dazzling runs to keep the Orange at bay.  After the game, Fournette posed for a photo with former Syracuse great Floyd Little, a fitting end to a dominating performance.

I was very impressed with the play of Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney, the fifth-string quarterback in preseason.   He made his first start and threw three TD passes against a solid secondary.   I feel like I played OK,” said Mahoney, who admitted he was nervous at the start. “I missed a lot of open throws in the beginning. It just sucks that we lost.”    Mahoney Is in good company.    In the past decade, only six other quarterbacks have had a three-touchdown game against the Tigers: AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, John Parker Wilson and Andre Woodson, and three of them are on NFL rosters.



6 Comments on Game day at Syracuse — LSU fans try to drink the town dry!

  1. Very nice Michael. It was nice to meet you Saturday.


  2. Loved reading this article! Not all about intricate football details but some great human interest things as well….the Ernie Davis story was fascinating and heartwarming…so sad he passed so soon. I do so enjoy this blog…not so much as the huge football enthusiast, but the human interest and excitement around the games and little extra facts makes it interesting to read and gives me an idea about which places I might actually like to visit. 🙂


    • Thank you very much for your positive comment. When I do my game day stories I try to have give a bit of a history and tradition lesson. The human interest stories that I find are my favorites!


  3. Gary and MaryAnn Smiley // October 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    Enjoyed meeting you at LSU/Syracuse game – we are looking forward to a bowl game and definately Wisconsin trip next year – hope to get some information from you on that trip .


    • It was a pleasure meeting the two of you! I am actually headed to LSU in a couple of weeks, my first time for a football game there. Look for my game day story, I promise a good one! I hope to see you all for the upcoming bowl game! Maybe in the playoff? Our trip to Wisconsin will be amazing, more details to come. Mike


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