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Great SU Rivalries

Keeping the competitive flame alive.

With its long and proud athletic tradition, Syracuse University has had its share of rivalries. Sometimes the rivalry has a specific starting point. Other times, it just evolves over the years. And even though the players and the coaches may change, the desire to triumph over a legendary opponent remains a constant.

Sport: Football

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Boston College

The Syracuse Orange first played the Boston College Eagles in 1924, and the two teams began playing annually in 1971. Currently, SU leads the all-time series 28-18.

The Orange’s 43-17 win in 2004—known as “the Diamond Ferri game,” was one of the most memorable. Ferri, an SU defensive back, filled in on offense and rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He also had six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown, wining Big East Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors.

When Boston College left the Big East in 2005 to join the ACC, the future of the rivalry was in doubt. BC and Syracuse signed a deal to play an annual out-of-conference game through 2021. Now that Syracuse is a member of the ACC, the series continues.

Sport: Football

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Colgate

From 1891 to 1961, Syracuse knew a rival so great that an entire weekend was devoted to it. Colgate weekend meant bonfires, dances, wild parties, raids on the opposing team’s campus, and a football game that was the most anticipated of the season.

When Syracuse’s Archbold Stadium opened in 1907, a legend began, seemingly fortified by a 13-year Syracuse losing streak. Supposedly, a Colgate student snuck a varsity “C” sweater into the drying cement while the stadium was being constructed. This gave way to the legend of the Hoodoo—a corruption of the word “voodoo”—which was used as a chant to psych out the Syracuse team and fans.

Eventually, Syracuse retorted with the chant “we do” to diminish the effects of the so-called “Hoodoo,” but it wasn’t very effective. In 70 years of competition, Syracuse won only 26 out of 62 games.

Sport: Football

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. West Virginia

The series against WVU dates back to 1945, with the teams meeting in regular season play every year between 1955 and 2011. West Virginia then moved to the Big 12 Conference, but met SU in 2012 at the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, where Syracuse won 38-14. SU holds the edge in the all-time series, 30-27.

Starting in 1993, the winner of the Syracuse-West Virginia game received the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy. Schwartzwalder was not only SU’s all-time winningest football coach—guiding the Orange to a 153-91-3 overall record—but a graduate of West Virginia and a former starting center on its football team.

Sport: Men’s Basketball

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Georgetown

When did the Syracuse-Georgetown matchup become one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries? On February 12, 1980, when the Hoyas snapped SU’s 57-game winning streak in the last game at Manley Field House. Adding insult to injury, Georgetown coach John Thompson II told the media following the game that Manley “was officially closed.”

In the years that followed, the feud between the two schools became a hallmark of the Big East Conference. In 1990, Syracuse exacted its revenge when, late in the first half, Thompson received three technical fouls from three different referees, which led to an automatic ejection from the game. Syracuse went on to win in overtime and clinch the Big East regular season title. The Orange leads the all-time series against Georgetown, 49-42.

Check out this Washington Post video about the rivalry…

Sport: Men’s Basketball

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. UConn

The Syracuse-University of Connecticut rivalry was notable for a couple of reasons. First, it pitted two Hall of Fame coaches—Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun—against each other in the basketball powerhouse Big East Conference. Second, it was Syracuse and UConn that played a historic Big East Tournament quarterfinal game in 2009.

Battling in Madison Square Garden, Syracuse posted an epic 127-117 win in a game that went to six overtimes. Called “a game for the ages,” the slug-fest took 3 hours and 46 minutes, ending at 1:22 a.m. and firmly staking its place in NCAA history.

Overall, SU has a 54-37 advantage in the overall series with Connecticut, which is now a member of the American Athletic Conference.

See highlights from the game in this ESPN Sportcenter report.

Sport: Men's Basketball

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Duke

If there’s such a thing as an instant rivalry, Syracuse-Duke is it. Although the teams had met four times previously—in 1966, 1971, 1990, and 1998—Syracuse’s move to the ACC started a new chapter in the teams’ shared history.

Led by Jim Boeheim and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski—two of only three Division I coaches to reach 900 victories—the two teams met first in February 2014 in front of a record crowd in the Carrier Dome, where Syracuse won with a down-to-the-wire overtime win.

The teams then traveled to Cameron Indoor Arena, where an equally boisterous crowd saw Duke make seven free throws in the final 24 seconds to turn a one-point lead into a 66-60 win. The all-time series going into the 2015-16 season was Duke 5, Syracuse 3.

Sport: Women's Basketball

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. UConn

The University of Connecticut’s dominance in women’s college basketball makes them every team’s target. But Syracuse’s last meeting with UConn cemented the rivalry between the two teams.

Coming off a record-breaking season, Syracuse entered the 2013 Big East Championship seeded third—its highest seeding in 25 years. After receiving a double-bye, the Orange defeated Villanova in the quarterfinals, 61-56, before falling to No. 2-seed UConn, 64-51, in the semifinals.

Sport: Men's Lacrosse

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Cornell

Separated by a 90-minute drive through the lacrosse hotbed of upstate New York, Syracuse and Cornell University have been natural rivals since their first meeting in 1920. SU and Cornell rank second and seventh, respectively, on the list of all-time winningest Division I programs, and the two schools have combined to win 14 NCAA titles (SU 11, Cornell 3).

In 2009, the two teams reached the NCAA finals. Syracuse never led, and with 3:50 to go in the game was down 9-6. Three unanswered Syracuse goals tied the game with 0:04 on the clock, and a goal by Cody Jamieson with 2:40 left in the four-minute, sudden-death overtime won it for the Orange, 10-9. See video of the stunning finish.

Sport: Men's Lacrosse

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Johns Hopkins

Syracuse University and Johns Hopkins University have spent 50-plus years battling each other and simultaneously climbing to the top of the college lacrosse standings.

As of the end of the 2012-13 season, the programs rank first and second in all-time wins, (Hopkins 933, Syracuse 846), NCAA tournament wins (Hopkins 66, Syracuse 65), NCAA title game appearances (Hopkins 18, Syracuse 17), and NCAA titles (Syracuse 11, Hopkins 9). Of the 42 NCAA championship games that have been played, 30 have featured at least one of the two.

Many feel that the rivalry began in earnest in 1983, when Johns Hopkins was looking for its first national title since 1980 and Syracuse was making its first NCAA finals appearance. Despite being behind 12-5 halfway through the third period, Syracuse charged back to win the national championship 17-16.

Sport: Women's Lacrosse

Rivalry: Syracuse vs. Boston College

Boston College has faced Syracuse 12 times and has never defeated the powerhouse SU team. On February 26, 2014, both teams went into the game undefeated and Syracuse, in its first season as a member of the ACC, walked off with an 11-9 win. On May 17, 2014, the two teams met again, with Syracuse winning by the same 11-9 score.

Currently, the Orange is the highest-scoring team in the ACC, averaging 20.54 points per game. In addition, junior Kayla Treanor is leading the league in scoring. In the 2013-14 season, she set a single-season school record with 79 goals and recorded 117 points, ranking second on Syracuse’s single-season record list and racking up the highest total for a sophomore in the University’s history.