If you had asked many people at the beginning of the season what bowl game Syracuse would be playing in come December or January, you probably would have gotten one of two reactions: “some terrible bowl that nobody wants like the Gasparilla or Independence Bowl” or “what do you mean which bowl? SU isn’t even going to make it to a bowl game.”
Oh, how the tides have turned.
Syracuse is now not only bowl-eligible but sits at 7-2 and is ranked 13th (?!?) in the country by the College Football Playoff committee. The Orange are in a spot to get into a really fantastic bowl game if they continue their success in the last four games of the season. If they find a way to run the table to close out the year, they could even find themselves in a New Year’s Six Bowl (Fiesta or Peach) if their resume is good enough compared to everybody else around them. If not, they could still easily find themselves in something along the lines of the Music City or Gator Bowl.
To get to a marquee bowl game, SU will have to take care of work for themselves by winning at least one or two of their last three games. They’ll also need some help around them to boost their own resume and move weaken some other contenders in front of them. So who should Orange fans be rooting for this weekend so that SU is in the best possible spot to get to a top tier bowl game?
#2 Clemson vs. #17 Boston College
Who to Root For: Clemson
Why: At first glance, you might think SU should be rooting for BC over Clemson in this matchup because then a win over BC in the last week of the season would then look better for Syracuse. However, the reasons to root for Clemson far outweigh a better win. First and foremost, if Clemson winds up running the table, SU will likely be the team that looked the best against them all season (along with Texas A&M), so that’ll be a huge boost for their resume. Secondly, if Clemson loses, there’s a chance they miss the playoff. If that happens (which is unlikely), they’d likely steal a bid away from Syracuse for a New Year’s Six Bowl which SU fans are still hoping for. Finally, if Clemson beats BC, that will almost guarantee that SU will finish the season as the second-best team in the ACC, giving them a much better shot at a top-tier bowl. Rooting for BC might seem like the logical choice on the surface, but when you get down to the nitty-girtty, you might as well just let Clemson keep on rolling if you’re Syracuse.
#14 NC State vs. Wake Forest
Who to Root For: NC State
Why: Simply put, NC State is (as of now) Syracuse’s best win of the season by a pretty wide margin. Despite only winning by 10, it was a game that it felt like the Orange dominated. If the Wolfpack keeps on rolling and finishes the season with only losses to Clemson and Syracuse on its ledger, that win for the Orange is only going to look better and better to the CFP committee and improve their resume for an upper-echelon bowl game.
#3 Notre Dame vs. Florida State
Who to Root For: Notre Dame
Why: If the Irish beat Florida State, then two weeks from now at Yankee Stadium, Syracuse will have a chance to beat an undefeated, consensus top-three team in the country. That kind of a win (coupled with a couple of losses in front of them) could easily skyrocket the Orange into the top ten and put them in a great spot to get the invite to a really fun bowl game. If you’re Syracuse, you’ve got to root for ND this weekend just so you can have the opportunity to be the first slay the dragon that is the Fighting Irish.
#12 UCF vs Navy
Who to Root For: Navy
Why: The CFP committee clearly has a lot of issues with the UCF Knights’ resume this season. Despite being one of just four remaining undefeated teams in the FBS, the Knights are ranked all the way down at 12, just a spot ahead of two-loss Syracuse. Even though the committee isn’t UCF’s biggest fans, it’s going to really difficult to put a theoretical two- or three-loss Syracuse team in a better bowl game than an undefeated UCF team. If Navy can find a way to upset the Knights, we’ll see UCF’s ranking drop off drastically which means we’ll also see SU move up at least one spot in next week’s rankings.
#7 LSU vs Arkansas
Who to Root For: Arkansas
Why: LSU is the only two-loss team in the CFP Top Ten and for good reason. The Tigers lone losses have come against top 15 teams in #15 Florida and seemingly unstoppable top-ranked Alabama. Outside of the top-tier losses, LSU also boasts some of the best wins in the country over the likes of #5 Georgia, #16 Mississippi State and #24 Auburn. Because of that stellar resume, as long as the number of wins and losses remains the same between the Tigers and the Orange, LSU will always have the upper hand with the committee. Syracuse will be hard pressed to leapfrog them into a better bowl game if things stay the way they are, meaning that Orange fans should be chanting “Woo Pig Sooie” all weekend long.