Week 1: vs. Rhode Island, Week 2: vs. Wake Forest, Week 3: vs. Central Michigan, Week 6: @ USF
Simply put, if SU wants to make a bowl game after missing out on one last season, it cannot afford to lose any of these games. Unlike previous years, the Orange will have a couple of warm up games to start the season, which it hasn’t had in past years. These four teams combined for a 15-34 record last year, which was inflated by Central Michigan going 7-6 (the Orange beat the Chippewas 40-3 in 2014). In addition, SU’s only ACC win came against Wake Forest last year. Losing any of these four games would be borderline disastrous for the team.
Week 7: @ Virginia, Week 8: vs. Pittsburgh, Week 12: @ NC State, Week 13: vs. Boston College
These four games will make or break the Orange’s season. Assuming SU will be 4-4 in the other eight games of the year, Syracuse needs to win two of these four games to become bowl eligible. A road game against Virginia and the season finale against Boston College are the two most winnable games in this chunk of the schedule. Virginia is coming off of a 5-7 season but lost some defensive standouts. Boston College will have to replace its starting quarterback, as well as all five of its starting offensive linemen. The Eagles will definitely have an offensive scheme figured out by the last week of the season, but it will be interesting to see how the unit flows with so many missing parts. Pittsburgh will be tough to beat in the Dome, with potential first round pick Tyler Boyd torching the secondary. In addition, NC State is coming off of an 8-5 season behind the arm of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. It will also be a tough win on the road.
Week 4: vs. LSU, Week 9: @ Florida State, Week 10: @ Louisville, Week 11: vs. Clemson
It goes without saying that beating any of these four teams would be a cornerstone win for a struggling team. LSU will visit the Dome in week four, and a brutal three week stretch towards the end of the season will kill any momentum the Orange has built after some key games in the middle chunk of the schedule. As if things weren’t hard enough already, the Orange will have to face Everett Golson again, who transferred to Florida State from Notre Dame. Louisville is the most winnable game in this group, but playing on the road will make it much more difficult. Last season the Orange was outscored 82-34 against these three top ACC teams.
Posted By: Jason Weingold