For the first time since 2004, the Syracuse Orange football program is headed to a bowl game.
On Thursday, SU accepted an invitation to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30. The Orange will play familiar Big 12 opponent Kansas State (7-5), which accepted an invite on Friday.
It's been a while since Syracuse (7-5) has been a staple in the college football bowl schedule. But for older fans, who called the boys in orange and blue, "The Orangemen", a bowl appearance was expected every year.
From 1987-'92, the Orangemen compiled a 56-14 record and made six straight bowl appearances. Syracuse's streak was broken in '93 when it went 6-4. After another season of missing a bowl, SU responded by making six of seven bowl appearance from '95-'01.
During those eras, quarterbacks Don McPherson, Marvin Graves and Donovan McNabb were behind center and head coaches Dick MacPherson and Paul Pasqualoni were leading the charge.
In just his second season, current head coach Doug Marrone has led SU to a bowl bid and may be on the right track to bring back those bowl-game expectations.
But before Orange nation prepares to travel to the Big Apple or plop on the couch to watch their team's first postseason game in six years, let's take a look at the top 5 bowl games in the program's history.
5) Hall Of Fame Bowl, Jan. 2, 1989: Syracuse running back Robert Drummond rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns to help the No. 12 Orangemen past No. 19 LSU, 23-10, in Tampa, Fla.
SU (10-2) took an early 10-0 lead aided by a 80-yard touchdown drive on its first possession of the game.
The Tigers crept back into the contest and tied it at 10-all on their first possession of the second half with a 35-yard field goal.
Drummond, the game's MVP, scored TDs on Syracuse's next two possessions to ice the game.
The Orangemen followed up that bowl win by winning their next four bowl games, which included No. 4 and No. 3 on our list.
4) Hall Of Fame Bowl, Jan. 1, 1992: The Orangemen used a big-play passing attack to help first-year head coach Paul Pasqualoni collected his first of six bowl victories as SU defeated Ohio State, 24-17, in Tampa, Fla.
SU quarterback Marvin Graves and wide receiver Qadry Ismall connected on two 50-plus yard pass plays in the first quarter. Both plays helped set up touchdowns that allowed the Orangemen to take a 14-0 advantage.
Ohio State tied the contest at 17-17 with less than eight minutes to go, but SU responded less than a minute later when Graves connected with wide receiver Antonio Johnson on a 60-yard TD reception.
Graves completed 18 of 31 passes for 309 yards and two TDs to earn MVP honors. But Graves wasn't done there.
3) Fiesta Bowl, Jan 1, 1993: Syracuse running back Kirby Dar Dar's 100-yard kickoff return capped a 20-point third quarter which helped No. 6 Syracuse beat Colorado, 26-22, in Tempe, Ariz.
The New York Times recounts the game's big play:
"Qadry Ismail, the Orange's dangerous kick returner, took the kickoff at the goal line and started right. Dar Dar streaked around heading left, and behind three straight blocks turned upfield and was off."
"'I only had to break one tackle and I was off to the races,'" Dar Dar said. "'Whenever you are in that situation, there's always one man out there. It was him and me and I beat him. After that I knew I was gone.'"
Trailing 7-6 at halftime, the Orangemen (10-2), behind another Graves MVP performance, rallied and took a 26-16 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Orangemen held on and won their fifth straight bowl game. Syracuse finished the season ranked in the Top 10 in both the AP (No. 6) and coaches (No. 9) polls.
2) Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 1988: No. 4 Syracuse entered the game with an 11-0 record and with national title hopes on the line against No. 6 Auburn at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson, the game's "Most Oustanding" player, led the Orangemen on a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, which ended on a Tim Vesling 32-yard field goal with 2:04 remaining.
Auburn responded with a 62-yard drive to set up a 30-yard field goal attempt by kicker Win Lyle. With time running out, Lyle nailed his third field goal of the day and forced the game finish in a tie.
The Tigers' decision to play for a tie is still talked about by SU oldtimers. Many Syracuse players expressed their displeasure to the NY Times after the game.
'''I think Pat Dye did what was best for Auburn,''' SU offensive Ted Gregory said. '''But I know Coach MacPherson had the same choice against West Virginia and went for two points to win the ball game.'''
"Deval Glover, the wide receiver who caught a 12-yard touchdown pass, spoke of how the tie 'really hurts,' and Paul Frase, the defensive left tackle and a Syracuse captain with McPherson and Gregory, acknowledged bad feelings about Dye's decision.
"After the game I had to fight a lot of bitterness," Frase said. "We came to a major New Year's bowl wanting to win.''
1) Cotton Bowl, Jan. 1, 1960: Legendary SU running back Ernie Davis scored on the game's first play to help Syracuse defeat Texas, 23-14, and win its first and only national title in Dallas.
The Cotton Bowl website recounts the game's first play:
"The Classic was just seconds old when the first of the fireworks exploded."
"Penalized back to his 13-yard line on a holding call, Syracuse quarterback Dave Sarette pitched out to halfback Ger Schwedes, who in turn looked downfield for a streaking Ernie Davis. Schwedes fired the halfback pass and Davis made the reception on the run at his 43."
"Texas defender Jack Collins leaped high, and just barely touched the ball, but not quite enough to keep Davis from making the grab. Davis was all alone in the open field and raced to the end zone for an 87-yard scoring play, the Classic’s longest pass ever."
Syracuse took a 15-0 lead into halftime and held off the Longhorns for the victory.
Dallas Morning News writer Bill Rives gives his thoughts on the game:
"It was a stirring, exciting game, marked by rugged play (some blows were thrown), rhubarbs, howls at the officials by partisans of both sides, the booms of the Syracuse students' cannon, whose ammunition consists of powder, newspaper and ladies' hose, and the establishment of two records."
"The Orangemen lived up to their reputation, demonstrating power, passing and finesse on the attack and strong resistance."
-- Check the Syracuse Football History Database for more on the school's accomplished football history.