At the ACC Kickoff in July, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers didn’t want a win total to define his team in the 2018 season.“My thing is this: I think that we’ve been in some close games,” Babers said. “If we’re going to turn into winners, we need to win some. What’s the number on that? I don’t know.”Success for his team could be seen in finishing close games, which it’s failed to do in years past (in 2017, Syracuse played Louisiana State, North Carolina State, Miami and Florida State within 10 points on the road but lost all four), Babers said during training camp. On Saturday against FSU, in SU’s first real test of the season, the Orange dismantled the Seminoles, 30-7.After failing to score touchdowns twice on first-and-goal opportunities, Syracuse (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) tallied 24 second half points without starting quarterback Eric Dungey. The defense sacked FSU quarterback Deondre Francois on consecutive series late in the third quarter that negated an FSU comeback.In Syracuse’s largest victory in the ACC under Babers, the Orange pummeled a lesser, yet reputable opponent.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFrom the outside, the win — Syracuse’s first over FSU in 52 years — could be seen as historically significant. But through three games, the Jimbo Fisher-less Florida State team hasn’t looked like the program which won three conference titles in the last seven years. The win isn’t noteworthy because of the opponent. It matters that Syracuse finished.“To get a win on a football team like that where the game was definitely a close game for three quarters,” Babers said, “and then to pull away late like that late in the fourth quarter that’s very, very satisfying as a coach.In 2016, Babers and Syracuse were in the position head coach Willie Taggart and FSU are in now. In the Orange’s third game under Babers, against a then Taggart-led South Florida team, Syracuse was outmatched. The Orange lost 45-20, allowing 454 yards of offense to a USF team that would eventually go 11-2. The loss pushed Syracuse to a 1-2 start in Babers’ first year.A year later, in Week 2, Syracuse choked against Middle Tennessee State in the Carrier Dome. In Scott Shafer’s return, Syracuse entered the fourth quarter tied with MTSU, a team which would record a 7-6 marking after Conference USA play. On paper, Syracuse is better this season than FSU, which won more conference game than SU a year ago. The Orange averages more points and yards per game while holding opponents to fewer yards than FSU has in its first three games. And on Saturday, the Orange created separation against Florida State, which it failed to do against MTSU and USF in years prior.Syracuse’s experienced defensive line torched the FSU offensive line. Tommy DeVito rushed and threw for a touchdown after Eric Dungey left the game early. SU allowed one conversion on third down.To compete for a bowl game, which Syracuse has now set itself up to do, it needs to win the 50-50 battles against other fringe-bowl opponents. Saturday, the Orange did that.The game shouldn’t be glorified because Syracuse beat Florida State. The teams of Seminoles’ past aren’t the team SU beat. But the Orange showed change, too. The ending of Saturday’s game is what Babers and his staff have searched for over the last two years.Now the challenge, as Babers has said many times before, is to do it again.Josh Schafer is the sports editor for The Daily Orange where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at email@example.com or @Schafer_44. After forcing three turnovers in the first half, Syracuse’s defense folded in the second frame, allowing 220 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.The first play of the fourth quarter was a 49-yard Broncos touchdown pass. The next MTSU series featured three passes for more than 10 yards and ended in another touchdown.Against Florida State on Saturday, Syracuse didn’t collapse. The Seminoles scored once in the fourth quarter with just more than six minutes remaining. Their previous attempts for a comeback had failed, usually due to a Syracuse sack or quarterback pressure. For the first time under Babers, Syracuse held an ACC team to one touchdown.“This performance shows a lot of growth from the team we were two years ago and even last year,” defensive end Kendall Coleman said. “It means everything going forward because this is going to be major in establishing who we are this season.”While media members attempted to compare Saturday’s game to the Virginia Tech game in 2016 and Clemson last year during Saturday’s post-game interviews, there wasn’t a real correlation. Florida State was favored by three points and senior defensive end Alton Robinson added after the game he didn’t think the FSU win was an upset.FSU entered the game 1-1 with a 24-3 home loss to No.13 Virginia Tech and a 10-point over Samford on its resume. The Seminoles had played 10 linemen in their first two games and failed to score in the first quarter in both.The Seminoles team that entered the Carrier Dome on Saturday wasn’t the same program that beat Syracuse 10 times in a row since 1966. After a 7-6 season last year, FSU was forced to replace Jimbo Fisher, who coached the Seminoles to three ACC titles. Three games into Taggart’s tenure, the team is still transitioning.“We’re not playing like we should be,” said Taggart of his team which opened the season ranked No.19. “They should all be frustrated with themselves. We all need to look within ourselves to see what we’re doing and if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.” Published on September 16, 2018 at 8:11 pm Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
Mexico join Brazil, Japan and Iran alongside hosts Russia as the teams to have confirmed their places in next year’s finals.Friday’s win saw Mexico go top of the six-nation final qualifying round in CONCACAF, with 17 points from six games.The result means they are guaranteed one of the automatic World Cup berths awarded to the top three finishers in the group.But while Mexico celebrated, arch-rivals the USA were left contemplating a road to Russia that has suddenly become much more uncertain following their 2-0 loss to 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists Costa Rica in Harrison, New Jersey.The win left Costa Rica second in the standings on 14 points, while the USA continue to hold on to the third automatic qualifying place with eight points from seven games.The Americans however are level on eight points with Honduras, who host the US next week in what promises to be a tense duel in the Central American nation.Costa Rica striker Marco Urena was the hero at the Red Bull Arena, where a large contingent of Costa Rica fans in the 25,000-seat stadium made the fixture feel like an away tie for the USA.Urena scored twice to give Costa Rica their first World Cup away win over the USA since 1985.San Jose Earthquakes forward Urena exposed slack defending in the US back four in the 30th minute to fire Costa Rica ahead at the Red Bull Arena.Urena then pounced on another sloppy piece of US defending eight minutes from time to complete a miserable night for the hosts.The defeat — the first in a competitive fixture since coach Bruce Arena took over last year — leaves the US campaign to reach the 2018 finals in Russia in the balance.Arena must now somehow turnaround his team’s display for next week’s clash with Honduras.“We’ll take a day to reflect on this and come up with a plan,” Arena said. “But clearly walking away without any points tonight is very disappointing.“We’ll move on. This is how you deal in competition sports. You don’t win every game.– ‘Not our night’ –“Tonight was not our night. We didn’t play well, but we still have three games left in the competition. We’re still in position to qualify for the World Cup.”Urena grabbed his first on the half hour mark, when a poor clearing kick from goalkeeper Tim Howard was headed back towards the US territory.The US defence was caught out of position and Urena burst through the middle before angling a low shot across Howard into the far corner to make it 1-0.As tension mounted in the second half Costa Rica’s Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas twice pulled off superb saves from Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore to preserve the visitors lead.With the US pushing forward Urena then grabbed his second, punishing another blunder to stroke home his finish past Howard.In the day’s other game, Honduras grabbed a precious win over Trinidad and Tobago, downing the Caribbean side 2-1.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Mexico’s Jurge Damm battles for the ball with Panama’s Luis Ovalle during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier football match in Mexico City © AFP / PEDRO PARDOMEXICO CITY, Mexico, Sep 2 – Mexico became the fifth team to guarantee their place at the 2018 World Cup on Friday as the United States crashed to defeat at home to Costa Rica to place their qualification campaign in jeopardy.A Hirving Lozano header on 53 minutes was enough to give Mexico a 1-0 win over Panama at the Azteca Stadium as the CONCACAF heavyweights reached the finals for a seventh successive occasion.
This time last year, Luis Suarez was the star man in a rampant Liverpool team, battling to win their first league title since 1990.One year on, and Luis Suarez is in the Champions League quarter-final with Spanish giants Barcelona, whilst Liverpool are floating around the Europa League spot, having failed to realise their title dreams from the previous season.Luis Suarez is arguably one of the most controversial players in football history – who could forget the third bite of his career when Uruguay took on Italy in last year’s World Cup?Watch the video above to see ten things you probably didn’t know about one of football’s most colourful characters.For more of the best sports entertainment on YouTube, subscribe to talkSPORT here.