Despite the fact that the Orange have now lost two straight games and sit under the .500 mark at 2-3, there is some renewed optimism on the Hill. Syracuse has hung in with superior teams on the road in back-to-back weeks. First, Syracuse took a game against LSU down to the wire in Death Valley (which is seemingly less impressive now, but still better than many fans could have hoped for) and last week Syracuse fell to a very good NC State team by only one score in Raleigh. Despite all of that, the Orange are facing a massive uphill battle to reach the coveted six win mark that has been the goal of this program for four years. So just what kind of chance do the Orange have of making it to six wins?
First, let’s throw some fun numbers out there because we all know that there is nothing more fun that advanced statistics and analytics (note the sarcasm). FootballOutsiders.com uses an advanced algorithm to come up with what they call S&P+. Similar to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the S&P+ comes up with a chance that a team wins a certain game or games in a percentage. Well, this advanced algorithm gives the Orange an 18.6% chance to make it to the six win mark this season. For those of you, like myself, who are not fans of math, that is about a one in five chance. Obviously this index uses all sorts of information including some stats that the average football fan has never heard of, but this still seems a bit high. Let’s break down why.
The Orange need to go 4-3 the rest of the way to get to six wins. That journey starts this week with Pitt at home. Then things get out of hand with Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest and Louisville on the docket before the season ends at home against Boston College. Perhaps I am cynical, but it seems far less likely than one-in-five that the Orange manage to win four of those games. I think it is safe to write off Clemson and Louisville as loses. There is just no reason to believe that the Orange can compete with either of those teams. It is similarly hard to see Syracuse getting a win in Miami. Florida State has been poor this season but, again, should Orange fans feel confident going to Talahassee. Remember that game isn’t for a few weeks, by which time the Seminoles very well may have figured themselves out. There are four games on the schedule that it is just very hard to imagine the Orange winning. This means, at least in my eyes, the Orange will have to win at least one game that they shouldn’t really be winning.
Look, anything can happen. That is why we watch the games. This week will be very telling. If the Orange fall to Pitt at home, you can forget everything else because that is the only sign you will need that they won’t get to six wins. If Syracuse wins, well, things stay interesting, but no matter what, Syracuse is facing a massive uphill battle.