The Orange is on the heels of a 4-8 season, which three of our writers correctly predicted last year. This season, there was little parity on The Fizz staff with how 2017 will shape up.
Logan Grossman: 4-8
Prediction: More of the same. This time it may not necessarily be Syracuse’s fault. The Orange very well may have improved this offseason but the schedule is less than friendly. In fact, some have said that Syracuse has the toughest schedule in the country. However, the Orange should, and according to my crystal ball, will open the season 3-0 with home games against Central Connecticut State, Middle Tennessee State (hi Scott Shafer) and Central Michigan. After that, expect things to go off the rails when the Orange travel to Baton Rouge for a matchup with LSU. The ACC is set to be as competitive as ever this year and expect the Orange to only grab one conference win, likely against B.C. on the last day of the season. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Orange grab a fifth win if Eric Dungey stays healthy but Dungey playing the entire season just might out of the realm of possibility.
Tyler Aki: 5-7
One of the most frightening parts for the Orange this season is its schedule. Syracuse has arguably the toughest slate in the country, including defending champion Clemson Florida State, Louisville and LSU. But what is hidden in this gauntlet is the fact that nearly all of the Orange’s home games are winnable. SU gets three doormat opponents in the Dome out of the gate, but then an all but guaranteed loss in Baton Rouge to the Tigers in week four. But the remaining home schedule is not that bad. Pitt, Clemson, Wake Forest and Boston College are the final four teams that come to the Dome. All the Orange needs to do is pull off a 2-2 record to give them a chance for the postseason, but there are three winnable games in that slate. If Syracuse can lock down a 3-1 record in that stretch that pencils SU into a bowl game, however, it would be extremely tough and expectation exceeding to pull that off. Now that the offense has a full year under its belt in Dino Babers’ new system, that unit will let SU hang around with some of the upper-echelon opponents, but the defense will have to be up to the task if the Orange wants to pull off any shockers this year. Last year, five wins would have gotten Syracuse into a bowl,
Drew Carter: 5-7
Dino Babers has made a living on massive second-year leaps. In 2012, after posting a 7-5 record in his first year at Eastern Illinois, Babers guided the Panthers to a 12-2 record, an Ohio Valley Conference Championship, and a spot in the FCS quarterfinals. At his second head coaching stop, Bowling Green jumped from 8-6 to 10-3 under Babers (he didn’t coach the bowl game). The average line for his starting quarterbacks in those Year Twos — Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois, Matt Johnson at Bowling Green — was 4,998 passing yards and 49.5 touchdowns. But here’s the thing: even if Syracuse takes an enormous step forward and becomes, say, the 25th-best team in the nation this season, the Orange would still be an underdog in half of its games. So the unfortunate reality is that even if Babers ignites another one of his patented second-year leaps, it will likely only manifest itself as one added win.
David Edelstein: 5-7
Finally it’s here. The day when every team is tied for first place. Everyone has something to prove. No one has taken the field just yet. But all this will change tomorrow. And (sorry Orange fans) eventually SU’s first place standing will change as well. In January, I said that Syracuse football would again end up with a losing record. Nearly half of Syracuse’s games (5) are against ranked opponents. Unless they (somehow) missed Dino Babers’ locker room speech-gone-viral after the Orange defeated number 17 Virginia tech, none of them will come into the Loud House playing like they are on a bye week again. Yes, this is now Babers’ second year at the helm. His own first recruiting class has arrived in CNY and should potentially fit the Orange-is-the-new-fast playbook better than last year’s all-Scott-Schafer team. But, five of Syracuse’s scheduled opponents this season have incoming recruiting classes in the top 50 (LSU, 7; Florida State, 8; Miami, 17; Clemson, 26; Pittsburgh, 42). SU is nowhere to be found. There is some excitement being generated by Syracuse’s quarterback depth this year. Dungey, Mahoney, and now DeVito are ready to go. Still, successful seasons largely rely on players staying healthy, though. Syracuse football is going 5-7 this season. But hey, that’s the goal, right? Be better than the year before.
JD Raucci: 5-7
I really loved what Dino Babers did with this SU football program in the offseason. His team arguably got better on both sides of the ball, especially in the secondary with the addition of a veteran in former Notre Dame corner, Devin M. Butler. As for the offense it won’t be easy to replace a guy like Amba Etta-Tawo, but an addition like Ravian Pierce may help to make up that production. Not to mention that Babers himself has said that his offense should be functioning at top-speed by the middle of the season. Syracuse also leads the country with 20 returning starters. For all intents and purposes the Orange should be much improved this season, and it will be, but maybe not by much in terms of its record. This season’s schedule simply doesn’t provide much room to breathe for SU. While many Orange fans are considering the first three games of the season cupcakes, the rest of the 2017 slate is really tough. With road games at Florida State, Miami, and Louisville, and, just in case you forgot, a date in the Dome with defending National Champion Clemson on the docket, this team’s record may not accurately represent the tremendous upside it possesses.
Timmy Leonard: 5-7
While I have a dream of SU scoring a last-second touchdown to beat BC in the finale and go bowling just as they did in 2013, it’s too hard to visual when you look at this daunting schedule. I see Dino’s young squad taking care of business and rolling through its first three non-conference games. But then you get to the middle part of SU’s schedule, which frankly is one of the hardest stretches any D1 team will play this year. I mean just try to read these six games without cringing: @LSU, @NCSU, Pitt, Clemson, @Miami, @FSU. That’s only the defending national champs and three of the hardest places to play in the country over a span of roughly 40 days. Maybe, (and I mean maybe) SU picks off a win at home against Pitt and catches an improved NC State team sleeping on the road. But, even that’s likely best-case scenario. I believe in Dino Babers just as much as anyone. If the SU football program was a publicly traded stock on NASDAQ I would be buying low right now. However, this year a win over BC in the finale will still leave Syracuse one win shy of that magic number 6.