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Looking at Past Syracuse Bowl Teams Against Ranked Opponents: How Does This Year’s Team Stack Up?

Syracuse has played in 25 bowl games, which ranks 45th among all current FBS programs. In those years, the Orange has faced 73 ranked opponents, going 30-40-3.

On Saturday, Syracuse has a chance to beat a ranked opponent for the first time all year.

The last time the Orange failed to beat a ranked team in a season was 2015, Scott Shafer’s final year at the helm, and the one before Dino Babers took over. However, this year’s team has its sights set on a result far better than that of the 2015 squad, who finished 4-8 after starting 3-0.

Going into the season, and especially now after seven games, reaching a bowl game is obviously one of SU’s main missions. At 5-2, Syracuse is definitely in a great position to get there, no matter what happens against NC State.

If the Orange was to reach a bowl game without beating a ranked team this season, it wouldn’t be the first time it does that. In fact, the last Syracuse team to make a bowl game without a win over a ranked opponent was actually the last one to make a bowl game at all.

In 2013, SU lost to No. 19 Northwestern, No. 3 Clemson and No. 2 Florida State, but notched six wins elsewhere for a Texas Bowl birth (and victory).

This year’s team wouldn’t be the first Syracuse bowl-bound squad to not beat a ranked opponent, but it would still defy most of program history.

The Orange has beat a ranked opponent in 17 of its 25 years ending with a bowl game trip. Excluding that 2013 season, the last time Syracuse failed to beat a ranked team on its way to a bowl game was 1999.

Something also to note. This year’s team is already 5-2.

Through seven games in 1999, the Orange was also 5-2, but finished just 6-5 to reach the Music City Bowl. In that 2013 season, Syracuse went 3-4 in its first seven, and finished 6-6.

At 5-2 already, this year’s team has a chance to finish significantly better than either of those teams, even without beating a ranked opponent. All it must do is avoid suffering a late-season collapse, something both teams have done in Babers’ first two seasons.

In regards to the rest of the year, Saturday likely won’t be SU’s last opportunity to beat a ranked team, but it sure could be its most realistic. The Orange has No. 3 Notre Dame on Nov. 17 at Yankee Stadium, where a win will be tough but not completely far-fetched.

Again, Syracuse has an extremely high chance at becoming bowl eligible, even if it doesn’t happen Saturday against the Wolfpack. All told, making a bowl game would be a goal accomplished for the Orange, whether it beats a ranked opponent this season or not. That’s all Babers probably (and should) cares about.

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