A Friday night game on the road, one coming right before a bye week.
If it had been any more of a trap game for No. 2 Clemson, Admiral Ackbar would have been sanding on top of the Carrier Dome, belting out warning.
But the Tigers fell victim -- on Friday the 13th, no less -- and Dino Babers delivered the defining win of his year-plus at Syracuse, as the Orange held on 27-24 to knock off the defending national champions.
Clemson's hopes of returning to the College Football Playoff aren't dead, but they're at least on life support with a growing challenge awaiting when the calendar hits November.
The Tigers came in having won 49 of their last 50 games against unranked opponents, and while it overcame that 1 in 50 -- a 43-42 home defeat last Nov. 12 at the hands of Pitt -- to win that title, this loss seems far more stunning.
Babers' Orange, who were 24-point underdogs entering Friday night, had already lost 30-23 to Middle Tennessee State. They rushing attack, ranked 85th (141.8 yards per game), was expected to be no match for Clemson's dominant defensive front.
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After all, the Tigers -- eighth in FBS in total defense (264.3 ypg) -- held Louisville to 116 yards on the ground, Virginia Tech to 90 and Auburn to 38 in their three teams games against ranked opponents.
But maybe we should have taken more stock in how close they played then-No. 25 LSU and newly-ranked NC State in nine and eight-point losses, respectively.
Facing 3rd and 8 at the Clemson 34-yard line with 1:40 to play, free-wheeling Orange quarterback Eric Dungey ripped off an 8-yard run for a first down that sealed the win.
That rush gave Syracuse 162 yards, the most the Tigers defense had allowed since Alabama racked up 221 in last season's national title game. In the regular season, nobody had run for that many yards on Clemson since then-No. 10 Florida State last Oct. 29.
Dungey finished with 61 yards on 21 carries -- to go along with 278 yards and three scores through the air on 20 of 32 passing -- and Dontae Strickland ran for 78 yards.
To be fair, Clemson was undone by a number of issues beyond an inability to slow down a Syracuse offense that piled up 440 yards and held the ball for 34:52.
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Quarterback Kelly Bryant, who came in hobbled with an ankle injury suffered the week before vs. Wake Forest, was knocked out near the end of the first half after he was slammed to the Carrier Dome turf by Chris Slayton.
Backup Zerrick Cooper couldn't get the Tigers going in relief (hitting on 10 of 14 attempts for 88 yards) and the only points Clemson delivered minus Bryant came on an Alex Spence field goal and Travis Etienne's 52-yard field goal.
Oddly, true freshman Hunter Johnson -- a five-star recruit -- was 5 for 5 with a TD pass against the Demon Deacons, but didn't get into this game.
The health of Bryant is going to be a major storyline to monitor going forward.
Meanwhile, the defense did itself no favors with penalties, including two on back-to-back third downs -- a pass interference call on Trayvon Mullen on 3rd and 9 and a Austin Bryant offsides flag on 3rd and 7 -- on a drive that would end with Cole Murphy giving the Orange the night's final points on 30-yard field goal with 9:41 to play.
But let's give credit to Syracuse. Babers has brought unquestioned energy and a change in scheme and culture to the Orange, and after missing out on a bowl game last season at 4-8 (which included being blanked by Clemson 54-0) he has something truly tangible to show the program's progress.
At 4-3 with No. 11 Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College, the postseason is obtainable but not guaranteed. However, the second-year coach has delivered Syracuse's first victory over a team ranked in the top two of the AP Top 25 since Sept. 28, 1984 vs. then-No. 1 Nebraska.
That's a breakthrough ... one that for Clemson comes with a dose of harsh reality.
Everything now rides on Nov. 4's trip to No. 20 NC State. Granted, there's a date with Georgia Tech in between on Oct. 28, but that Atlantic Division clash has now become the ACC's Game of the Year.
No. 11 Miami remains unbeaten -- it will face the Yellow Jackets on Saturday -- and got over a massive hurdle in ending a seven-game skid vs. Florida State already. But minus running back Mark Walton, the Hurricanes are a mystery despite their spot in the rankings.
The ACC's best bet at a return to the playoff would seem to rest with that showdown in Raleigh, and now thanks to Syracuse, the stakes just got that much higher.
Clemson has been here before, but a year ago, Dabo Swinney had the leadership of Deshaun Watson to lean on. He had a defense with veterans like Ben Boulware to count on to revive a season.
This time around, the talent is unquestioned. But can the Tigers pull that same magic after getting caught in a trap for the second year in a row?