It could have been a repeat of last season’s opener when Syracuse narrowly beat an FCS opponent after losing its starting quarterback. On Friday night, however, the Orange had the look of a team on the rebound as they thrashed Rhode Island 47-0 with their backup quarterback. They even returned a kick for a score with no time left. It wasn't quite as exciting as the infamous Kick Six, but it did snap a 12-year streak for the Orange.
What the win means for Syracuse: It’s hard to say at this point considering the opponent and the loss of experienced starting quarterback Terrel Hunt. The senior injured his right leg, which he broke in 2014 and cost him the final six games of the season. It's unknown how much time he will miss. Even with backup quarterback Eric Dungey, however, the Orange looked as if they made solid strides this offseason after a disappointing 3-9 campaign last year. In the 2014 opener, Syracuse beat FCS Villanova in double overtime after Villanova missed a chip shot field goal with 12 seconds left in regulation. The win over Rhode Island was in hand by the middle of the second quarter.
Player of the game: Dungey. The true freshman came to Syracuse without the acclaim of many Power 5 quarterbacks as he only had a few FBS offers. But once the Oregon native arrived in central New York, he quickly rose up the Orange’s depth chart. Dungey was efficient, completing 10 of 17 passes for 114 yards and two scores. The Orange look as if they could be in good hands with Dungey if Hunt has to miss time.
Top play: Rhode Island was hoping to get on the scoreboard before the half, but the Syracuse defense forced a punt with only a few seconds left in the second quarter. Connor McHugh kicked away to Brisly Estime, who promptly weaved through the Rams en route to a 74-yard punt return touchdown as the half expired. Syracuse had not returned a punt for a touchdown since 2003.