Doin’ The Math: Projecting Syracuse’s ACC Slate to Calculate Bowl Chances

We break down the upcoming Orange opponents in three categories to help project how SU can get to six wins.

Syracuse embarks on its first ACC conference schedule next week. Syracuse needs to find four more wins in order to become bowl eligible in consecutive seasons for the first time since the Orange went to bowls five straight years from 1995-1999. There are three categories the Syracuse schedule can fall into: must wins, toss-ups and nearly definite losses. Here is the remaining schedule for the Orange and the opponent’s record:

Clemson, 3-0

@NC State , 2-1

@Georgia Tech, 3-0

Wake Forest, 2-2

@Maryland, 4-0

@Florida State, 3-0

Pitt, 2-1

BC, 2-1

Must wins:

Wake Forest: Syracuse needs to beat the Demon Deacons when they come up to the Dome at the beginning of November. On the field, Wake is one of the weaker teams in the Atlantic division. Wake has lost to BC and Louisiana-Monroe, while its two wins came against Presbyterian and Army, not exactly football powerhouses. Wake Forest’s leading rusher Josh Harris has just 151 yards total and quarterback Tanner Price has averaged just 213 passing yards per game. The offense isn’t exactly lighting it up. With the game in the Dome and an expected large crowd because of parents’ weekend and Donovan McNabb’s jersey retirement, the Orange should not lose this game.

Pitt: Syracuse beat Pitt last season, although the game was not pretty. The Orange get the Panthers at the Dome late in the season. Pitt was blown out by Florida State opening weekend in Jameis Winston’s first college game and last weekend nearly blew a 23 point lead against Duke. Pitt’s new quarterback, Tom Savage, struggled against Florida State and New Mexico before unloading on Duke throwing six touchdowns and 424 yards. But Duke doesn’t have a great defense, the Blue Devils allowed 55 points to Pitt and 344 rushing yards against Georgia Tech. Pitt is another team that the Orange should beat at home if the team expects to play in a bowl game.

BC: The Orange should be BC. The Eagles are one of the worst BCS teams in the country, and beat division I-AA Villanova by just 10 points. BC has a first year head coach and was blown out by underachieving USC 35-7. At the time, USC’s offense was lost and in a quarterback battle. Even with a 2-1 record the Eagles have allowed more points (59) than they have scored (55). Quarterback Chase Rettig is more a game manager, completing about 60% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns in three games. The rushing attack carries the offense, with Andre Williams averaging nearly 4.7 yards per carry. This will be the final game of the season, and the Orange has it at the Dome. With a bowl berth potentially on the line SU has to win this game.


NC State: the Wolfpack are a tough team to figure out. They blew out Louisiana Tech opening week, but then needed a last minute field goal to beat Richmond. In its most recent game, NC State was able to hang with Clemson, and if not for a controversial out of bounds call the Wolfpack could have been in position to win. QB Pete Thomas has yet to throw for a touchdown and has four interceptions. The running game has been better, with the Wolfpack averaging nearing 200 yards per game on the ground. But even so, the NC State offense has scored just 8 touchdowns through the team’s first three games. The Orange could beat NC State if the defense is able to stop the running game, the only dominant unit of the NC State offense. But it will not be easy to go on the road to beat NC State.

Georgia Tech: Tech is all about the running game. For years the Yellow Jackets have run the triple option. The strength of the Syracuse defense so far has been the rush defense. With a strong front line, and a stronger group of linebackers, the Orange has done well containing the running game the past two seasons. The challenge for the Orange will be looking out for the pass from Georgia Tech. Quarterback Vad Lee has thrown just 39 passes but has seven touchdowns against one interception. If the Yellow Jackets are successful, it would mean pulling defenses closer and closer to the line of scrimmage due to the potent running attack, before taking shots down the field in the passing game.

Maryland: This is a toss-up because the game is in College Park. The Terrapin offense has looked impressive in the first four games, scoring at least 32 points in each including a 37-0 beat down of West Virginia last week. After losing four touchdowns last year due to injury, the Terps have found their guy this year in CJ Brown. Brown has completed two-thirds of his passes while tossing seven touchdowns to just one interception and scoring six more touchdowns on the ground. The Terps’ top running back Brandon Ross is averaging five yards per carry and leading receiver Stefon Diggs is averaging over 20 yards per carry. The Orange will be going into a hostile environment in Byrd Stadium and play a team that can pose some problems. This will be a grudge match too with long-time UConn nemesis Randy Edsall on the sidelines. He appeared on the hot seat coming into the year, but the team has responded and completely torched the Mountaineers last weekend.


Clemson: The Orange is going to face a sever uphill battle to beat Clemson. Barring an unlikely home loss to Wake Forest, Clemson will come to the Dome as a top 3 team in the nation. Clemson is a legit National Championship contender that already beat top 10 Georgia, who was just a deflected pass away from beating Alabama and playing in the National Championship game last year. The Orange defense hasn’t seen an attack like this in years. The Tigers have a Heisman candidate in Taj Boyd under center and explosive Sammy Watkins split wide. Clemson can put up 30 points and 400 yards without breaking a sweat. The energy will be raucous inside the Dome for the first ACC tilt, but stopping the Tigers is easier said than done.

Florida State: The Seminoles are another top 10 team on the Orange’s schedule, but this time, SU goes on the road. Going into Tallahassee in mid-November will be unlike any environment Syracuse has played in in recent history. Led by Winston, the ‘Noles offense has put up a staggering 52.3 points per game. If you think Bethune-Cookman and Nevada are cupcakes, keep in mind that Florida State hung 41 on Pitt opening weekend. The Seminoles are another team that is for real in the ACC, and could end up in a BCS bowl even with a loss to Clemson. The Noles are one of the best teams in the conference and SU just isn’t on that level yet. It’ll be a long day trying to shut down the elite athletes FSU has across its roster.

It’s simple math for the Orange: win three of your home games and find one game to win on the road. Aside from the two games against top 10 teams, Clemson and Florida State, any game is winnable for the Orange. It’s up to the team to find a way to win four of them if it wants to be bowling this winter.

Posted: Seth Goldberg

20 Comments on this Post

  1. Ugh. We definitely have a chance, but I am getting more and more concerned about those toss ups. If our current team had gone out day 1 and taken PSU, I would feel better about some of them. I can see the 5 wins mentioned above, but 6 is looking to be harder to come by than I first thought. I will hold true to my prediction of a 7-5 team, but it will be a tough road.

  2. The All Access was a great program and it won’t hurt recruiting at all. Love the practice facilities the pines in the background always look great. Again 6-6 is a great year no doubt!! Better than that would mean a near COY for HCSS!!


  3. @Seth Goldberg;

    As people will tell you,I’ve been sailing along thinking Syracuse will have a 9-3 season. Your article has taken a little of the wind out of my sails. I just might have to rethink this season.

    But anyway you look at it Seth,it’s another good article. Thanks,I guess!!!!!

  4. Hey Seth. I got to say that I agree with you. I feel that we should beat Pitt,Wake,and BC. The toss-ups are one that are a question mark. I feel the game with GT is right down Cuses alley. A ground and pound game it will be. Our defense with hold strong in that game. The NCST game is one that is a concern for me. I guess it depends on which teams shows for both. I was wondering though. Say we do beat Clemson. Does that change anyone’s thinking. I mean playing in FSU will be tough but maybe some of those other game won’t be so questionable. Just wondering what you guys think

  5. Andy, I worry about focus if we win. It represents a measure of success we haven’t had in a while. With a young team, and a young staff, I worry about focus. That said, especially if they win, they will believe they can beat anyone, but some of those are tough environments to play in. It only makes me feel better about my 7-5 prediction

  6. Smitty Section 129

    7-5 with a bowl win and go 8-5. We are going to steal one we should lose and lose one we should win. I cant wait for the Clemson game. Finally hearing people talking about getting tixs. About time people. There is no reason this game doesn’t sell out but we all know it wont. I will be happy with 45-48000 in the seats. I still don’t get why people don’t go, I’ve heard every excuse known to mankind. If we want to get the recruits we need to fill the stands, very simple. The media needs to push the tickets as well. How about an orange out. Something please

  7. @Malone;

    I went to the Syracuse womens soccer game against Clemson tonight and saw something that I haven’t seen since 1995 with the mens basketball team.

    In 1995 I was at a women basketball game in manley field House when all of a sudden you see the entire mens come in to watch and support the women. That year is when Lazrus Simms led the team with help from John Wallace in center to the National Championship Game against Kentucky. The team had chemistry/comradery and built relationships with each other.

    Well fast forward to tonight gentlemen,as I was watching the women play their game,in come Terrell Hunt,Auston Wilson,Christopher Clark,Marcus Coleman and a few of the other players.

    I know the players attitudes have changed and after seeing the players come to the womens game tonight I feel what happened in 1995 is happening all over again.

    I see VA Tech is beating Georgia Tech at halftime.

    I compared Jamal Custis as the ‘LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD” last week in a post. I might have picked the wrong person to put that label on,Terrell Hunt maybe a better fit because thewre is aJUCO player 6’6’ 325 lb OL Rotchill Medor out of NY that wants to come to Syracuse because of the QB.

    @Malone my story here indicates that the players are truely focused. I’m still looking for good things to happen.

  8. @Smitty Section 129;

    Word is Clemson has bought at least 7,000 tickets. Should be interesting. I’m in for the Orange Out. Enjoy the game.

  9. Ron,Im watching the GT game too and I like GT even though there losing 14-3!!

  10. @Russell Stugots;

    It looks like the game is changing in GA. Tech’s favor Russell.

    4th quarter should be real interesting.

  11. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but just saw that USC wanted to see adjustments to its punishments like PSU got and were refused by NCAA. I guess $$$$$$$$$$ to players and child rape are different issues to the NCAA!! DAAAA!!


  12. @Terry;

    I agree Terry,the main focus in all of this is just how stupid the ruling’s over the last couple of years by the NCAA have been.

    Remember now Syracuse was put on probation for having a coach co-sign a loan for a car for one of the lacrosse players and for giving some of the basketball clothes and sneakers and then inviting them down to a local resturant and feeding them dinner.

    After watching Terrell Hunt’s actions on the field and seeing him off the field lastnight,I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s definately the right choice to be our QB and he’s a natural at leading the team both on and off the field.

  13. Correction;it should read, giving some of the basketball players used clothing and sneakers plus the dinner is what Syracuse was put on probation for.

  14. Ron,it looks like GT ain’t as good or well coached as I thought they were?VT also looks very offensively limited!Both (games/teams) are looking like we should be able to handle them!?!At least if Hunt is QBing.Md is improving with the talent Locksley has brought in.He’s making RandyE look good!

  15. @Russell Stugots;

    I’m going to take your word on Locksley making Randy E. look good! I really don’t know too much about him at all.

    I agree with the rest of your comments though,VA Tech and Ga Tech both look like their beatable. It looks like we’re going to have a shot at Ga. Tech.

    I’m pumped Russell,and getting more excited by the day. I’m going to watch the womens Ice Hockey game tonight,I don’t understand the game,but I told some of the players that I would be there for support tonight. Should be fun.

  16. GT played a poor game against VT. I am not conident about playing them in Alanta and so should you guys!!

    It looks like recruting is heating up. All Access was fantastic and has to help recruiting. Go CUSE!!

    Remember the Sexually Abused kids of PSU!!

  17. On Thursday and Friday I completed something that I’ve never done before. I kept my promises to the womens soccer and Ice hockey teams and showed up for a game. I told them that I didn’t understand either sport,but I would attend the games.

    On Thursday Syracuse played Clemson in a soccer game and lost 1-0.

    Friday the girls played an exhibition game against the University of Guelph (GRYPHONS)AND WON 3-1. That was the first time I attended a hockey game and was impressed with the physicality and speed of the game.

    Both teams made a believer out of me,and will attend as many games as possible to show my support for the girls.

  18. Hey fella’s;

    Terry East Carolina destroyed North Carolina on Saturday. Who would have thunk that ever happening?

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