NEW ORLEANS, JAN. 2 -- The 16-16 tie in Friday's 54th annual Sugar Bowl left the Syracuse Orangemen with the same unpleasant taste one might have the morning after a New Year's Eve on Bourbon Street.

The emotions were anger and disappointment, frustration and regret, and they were shared by many of the 75,495 on hand in the Louisiana Superdome. Syracuse had come into the game with one of only three unblemished records in the country, and though the team finished the season undefeated, it felt quite empty.

Win Lyle's 30-yard field goal went through the uprights with one second left on the clock to give Auburn the tie and end any hope for national championship consideration for Syracuse, though Miami made it all moot, anyway, with its victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

After the Sugar Bowl, Syracuse Coach Dick MacPherson was asked where he hoped his team would be ranked in the final poll. "I don't care. I don't care anymore," he said with considerable resignation. "I think we'll get a good rating. We demonstrated we're a good team. We tried to get to 12-0 as best we could. But I'll tell you, there are a lot of heavy hearts and mine is heavy for the young people inside our locker room."

Quarterback Don McPherson's stern look said it all. "You know what they say about ties," said McPherson, who does not have a sister.

Still, when McPherson was asked if he and his teammates would have felt better if Auburn had scored a touchdown to win, he said, "No, that would have made it worse."

While Syracuse finished 11-0-1, Auburn, which entered the game ranked sixth, ended the season 9-1-2. The Tigers also ended the season listening to many of their own fans boo Coach Pat Dye's decision to go for the tie instead of the victory. Dye, who said this week he is seeking to renegotiate his contract to include more money and something amounting to tenure, apparently felt a tie would be forgiven sooner than a loss.

"My decision was not to get beat," Dye said.

MacPherson said that if his team needed a tie to win a conference title or send it to a bowl, he would do it. "But we're not in the conference and we never go for ties," said MacPherson, adding that in the regular season finale against West Virginia, the Orangemen went for two with less than two minutes left to grab a 32-31 victory.

Auburn players were ambivalent and obedient.

"Every quarterback wants to go for the end zone," said Auburn's Jeff Burger, who completed 11 passes in the Tigers' final drive. "But I agree with anything the coaches say."

"You don't jump up and down after a tie," Auburn linebacker Kurt Crain told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "Nobody is happy with a tie. About the only good thing you can say is that we didn't lose. It doesn't feel good because we came here to win. We didn't, so we're not happy.

"I was not happy about it," Crain said of the decision. "The way Burger throws and the way {Lawyer} Tillman catches, I thought we had a chance. Some of the guys wanted to see us throw the ball. But coach did what he thought was right. He's been in the business a long time and I think it was the right decision."

Tim Vesling's field goal for Syracuse had tied the game, 13-13, and after stopping Auburn in three plays, the Orangemen took over at their 24 with 6:47 left in the game. Though the Syracuse running backs had carried much of the load to that point, McPherson moved the ball on this drive.

He hit Deval Glover for 14 yards to get it started. A few plays later, he scrambled out of the pocket and threaded a pass between two Tigers to Glover for 13 yards and a first down at the Auburn 31. On third down from the 22, Robert Drummond was stopped six inches short. MacPherson decided to get the points while the opportunity was there, so Vesling kicked a 38-yard field goal for a 16-13 lead. MacPherson said he figured Auburn would need a touchdown.

"If I had thought in my wildest imagination that he {Dye} would have gone for a field goal," MacPherson said, then didn't bother to finish his sentence. "I made a jerk of myself because I told my football team that the field goal was just as good as a touchdown because {Auburn} would have to go for it. I personally would have gone for it on fourth down and I know we would have made it."

MacPherson also said that never occurred to him at the time.

"In retrospect, I don't think anybody could've done it differently at that time."

When the disappointment of the tie wears off, MacPherson and his team will probably realize they had an unusual season. Few teams go undefeated, especially ones that were 5-6 the year before. Just a few months ago, there was a large segment of the Syracuse population that wanted MacPherson out.

"It's not like we were going to go out and picket for him," McPherson said of his coach. "We all knew the only thing that could help was to win games, and we all wanted to do that, anyway."

And they did, winning 11 straight to advance to their first New Year's Day bowl in 23 years.

"One more time," MacPherson said. "We were very happy to be here, but we're very sad we did not win. That had nothing to do with the Sugar Bowl people, and we have a much stronger appreciation for all the people of Louisiana, New Orleans and all those parishes. . . .But we didn't get done what we wanted to do."