It happened, Orange Nation. It finally happened. For the first time since 2001, Syracuse is ranked in the national polls. The Orange check in at 22nd in the AP Poll and 24th in the Coaches Poll.
Not only is Syracuse in the rankings, but it is the second highest rated ACC team in the AP Poll.
This is unchartered territory for this team. They can just as easily lose it next week as they earned it with the win against NC State.
But the win has aspirations higher in central New York. This team seems to want more than the Pinstripe Bowl. Eight wins certainly is not out of the question. So what exactly does SU have to do to elevate above a second trip to Yankee Stadium?
With four games remaining on the schedule, two against ranked teams and three away from home, there is certainly no shortage of tests down the final stretch. Syracuse has yet to win a game in November under Dino Babers, but they had also yet to win after the bye with Babers coming into this year. Now, they’re 2-0 post-bye in 2018. As Babers has said, 2018 is different.
The Orange currently is tied for second in terms of total record in ACC with three other teams. But SU is the only team in the conference besides Clemson with a ranked win. With the rest of the ACC in a down year, there is a chance Syracuse could be the most appealing team in the conference.
In terms of the remaining opponents, Louisville should be a cake walk. The Cardinals are making a strong case as the worst team in the Power Five.
Wake Forest is the next opponent for the Orange and this is an interesting game. Sure the Demon Deacons are just 1-3 in the conference and have gotten smacked in their losses. But the fact that this game is on the road is the great equalizer. Just as it was the case against Pitt. This week could be a potential trap game for a Syracuse team that is certainly riding a high right now.
But the final two games will determine the magnitude of the Orange’s bowl game. Notre Dame and Boston College represent the two ranked teams on Syracuse’s schedule with the Eagles sliding into the 24th spot on Sunday and the Irish gunning for a College Football Playoff spot. Even though both games are away from the Dome, Syracuse should have a good chance to win at least one. Eric Dungey has only played against these opponents once each. He gave Notre Dame fits early on and threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, he torched Boston College for 434 yards and three touchdowns. The offense has clearly worked against these teams.
Notre Dame also plays in a way that allows teams to hang around. If Syracuse stays tough with them in the first half, it will a chance if it comes out firing in the third quarter.
As for BC, they’re a one trick pony. Anthony Brown ranks 80th in the country in passing. But AJ Dillon is the ACC preseason player of the year for a reason. Syracuse will have to lock down on the ground, which it has looked pretty good at over the last couple of weeks.
A 4-0 record seems unlikely for the final third of the season. But a 3-1 finish would show this team is legit and the second best team in a Power Five conference.