How Duke and Syracuse football teams made history as the only undefeated FBS teams in the nation

In the eyes of the NCAA, the first two-and-a-half years of the Duke-Syracuse football season was a total failure.

That was the conclusion of an NCAA panel that included two of the five coaches in the ACC’s two top programs.

The panel also recommended that Syracuse and Duke have their eligibility for the 2021-22 season suspended for three games. 

It’s been a year since the NCAA stripped the two teams of the No. 1 seed in the country and the nation’s No. 4 seed. 

The first of those games came in the final weekend of the 2018 regular season when Syracuse and Syracuse won a rematch of the ACC title game with a score of 62-52. 

Duke and Syracuse have never lost at home in ACC play and the two are unbeaten in conference play at 6-0 this season.

But there are still questions over whether the two schools have the talent to compete in the Big Dance for the national title. 

For a team that has been a hotbed of controversy, the ACC is a tough place to play. 

Syracco, who will be 37 in 2020, has lost only two games in the last two seasons.

Syracuse has won 14 of 18, including an overtime win in a game the Orange lost to Virginia Tech in the 2017 ACC Championship. 

“The conference is stacked,” Syracuse coach Steve Clifford said of the Big East.

“And I think the challenge is a little bit more challenging than I thought it would be.” 

A second-round bye to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 is also an issue. 

Curtis Samuel Jr., a former Duke and Duke standout, is entering his third season with Syracuse after being picked as the No 3 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. 

In 2017, Syracuse went 8-4 in conference. 

However, the Orange have been inconsistent on offense and in the face of adversity in their last two games.

Syracuse shot just 35 percent from the field, including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. 

Samuel is averaging 15.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in the past three games, though his field goal percentage has dropped from 53.9 percent to 49.4 percent. 

A fourth-quarter rally by Syracuse was erased in the second half by Duke, which outscored the Blue Devils 14-6 in the fourth quarter. 

 Samuels last game with Duke was the Blue Devil’s season-opening win over the Wildcats on Feb. 12, 2019. 

On that night, Duke took a 14-point lead on the first possession and outscaled the Orange 18-10 in the first half. 

Last season, Syracuse defeated Duke for the first time since the 2001 Orange-Duke rivalry. 

Trying to get a bounceback in 2021 could be tough for Syracuse. 

Coach David Cutcliffe is leaving the program and could be gone for another year. 

Meanwhile, Syracuse has been hit by NCAA sanctions related to the recruiting scandal, and its financial situation. 

After years of underperforming, the Blue Hens were left with a $3.5 million budget deficit and $9 million deficit in scholarship money in 2019-20. 

More importantly, Syracuse was hit with a yearlong NCAA investigation into its handling of players’ financial information. 

There were also questions about the way the school paid its coaches. 

One of the most recent cases involved Syracuse assistant coach Chris Carter, who was fired in February and charged with two counts of money laundering. 

He is scheduled to be arraigned in the spring. 

Carter is accused of providing financial information to several agents to help get players to take advantage of scholarships, including recruiting services, and to facilitate transactions with schools for players who never committed to the school. 

But the investigation has not been complete. 

According to a press release from the NCAA Enforcement Bureau, the investigation is focused on Carter and several other current and former Syracuse assistants. 

Investigators have found that some of Carter’s former assistants used their position to receive money for other players. 

They also have found evidence of fraud in the financial reporting of Carter and other assistants, including Carter’s. 

Two current and two former assistant coaches are also facing charges related to those matters. 

If convicted, Carter could face up to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

This article was originally published on February 9, 2020. 

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In the eyes of the NCAA, the first two-and-a-half years of the Duke-Syracuse football season was a total failure.That was…