The Orange started slowly and turned the ball over twice in the first quarter - which Central Michigan turned into a quick 10-3 lead - drawing boos from the season-high 33,004 fans in the 80-degree Dome.
With the game tied at 17, Dontae Strickland bolted in from nine yards out to give SU a 24-17 lead at halftime.
The Syracuse secondary put in a terrific effort to shut down CMU QB Shane Morris, who was coming off a 487-yard performance against Kansas, holding the Chippewas to 277 yards passing. Strickland finished with 2 touchdowns with 45 rushing yards. The interception set the Syracuse offense up near midfield for its second touchdown drive.
Romello Ross tried to add another CMU touchdown with about six minutes left in the game, but he fumbled on the one-yard line and a touchback was called.
The Orange, sparked by its defense's two interceptions in the first half, got rolling on offense in the third quarter to claim a 41-17 nonconference victory over Central Michigan. He was replaced by Tony Poljan late in the fourth quarter.
"We've been here before", defensive end Joe Ostman said. They also have been opportunistic defensively, recording a national-best eight interceptions despite allowing 27 points in each of their first two games.
ABOUT SYRACUSE (1-1): Ishmael is having a fine season to this point, but he still needs to make his way into the end zone - a problem previous year as well - as he has totaled 74 catches and only one TD since the start of 2016. There was a total of 14 penalties in today's game. Adversity is going to come.
"Whether we're winning or we're losing, we have to stay together as a team".
CMU returns to Kelly/Shorts stadium to face Miami (Ohio) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23.