As your resident Syracuse alum, I previewed Syracuse’s return to bowl season yesterday, now let’s look back to the last time the Orange went bowling.
Yes, unfortunately this is the kind of “bowling” I had to go back to in August of 2014. But just the year before I posted that on Instagram, we went bowling in Houston and were crowned 2013 Texas Bowl Champions with our 21-17 win over Minnesota.
I was part of that bowl team as a sophomore student manager. Me and the rest of our manager crew (self-proclaimed as “The Best in the Nation”), were always the first ones on the field, and the last ones off. We lived and breathed Syracuse football. As then-head-coach Scott Shafer said in our preseason team meeting, “managers win games too.” We were part of the team, we took that to heart. Spending Christmas away from home was a small price to pay to be with our Syracuse Football family and at least for me, it was one of the best experiences of my life.
For road games during the regular season, there is no time to enjoy or experience the local area. Usually the team arrives to the hotel Friday evening, gets into the game day routine early Saturday, and immediately boards the plane back home after the game. Bowl games are different. The teams arrive a few days before the game and the sponsors of the bowl have a multitude of events for everyone. For example, the Texas Bowl also hosts the “Rodeo Bowl” a few nights before the game. It was exactly how it sounds, basically, a cowboy skills olympics.
Of course we got the W. Syracuse is known for its long history of rodeo prowess, people forget that.
Another great thing about the bowl experience was the bowl gifts. Every coach, player, and manager at the Texas Bowl received a Samsung tablet, Fossil watch with the Texas Bowl logo, a backpack, and my personal favorite, a Texas Bowl belt buckle.
Hell yes, I wore mine whenever I had the chance (roughly once a year).
Getting the win over the Gophers and finishing the season 7-6 to cap the trip was icing on the cake. With under 2 minutes left, down 17-14, Brisly Estime (all-time name btw) returned a Minnesota punt over 70 yards to set up a Terrel Hunt scramble for the go ahead touchdown from 12 yards out.
Here’s the full highlight:
I’m not sure how I would look back on it all if we had lost and traveled home with that bad taste in our mouths. Good thing I didn’t have to worry about it. Instead, on a flight to Philadelphia along with a handful of our players the pilot made a quick announcement, “Attention folks, I just received word that we have a few members of the Syracuse University Football team on the flight today. They defeated Minnesota last night in the Texas Bowl, huge congratulations to them.”
Bowl games tend to catch a lot of slander from average sports fans. Yes, over half of Division-I teams go to a bowl and aside from the New Year’s Six bowls, technically they mean nothing in the grand-scheme of the College Football landscape, but that’s just not the point. The coaches and players on these 5-6+ win teams have been grinding since early August, bowl games are rewards. That win 5 years ago was something no one on that team will forget.
I’m excited to see the Orange back in bowl action tonight when they face West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl down in Orlando. Syracuse has won their last 3 bowl games, I can’t wait to see them make it 4-in-a-row. We’re a 3 point favorite, given how many of WVU’s starter’s are sitting, I don’t think that’s nearly enough.
Get ready for this one the right way. Check out my preview, bet the over, and BEAT WEST VIRGINIA.