This time of year, the countdown to the upcoming college football season really starts to heat up. Various sports books are picking up on that and offering way-too-early lines on select games this fall. From what we’ve seen thus far, let’s just say the Orange aren’t getting much respect. Here’s what FanDuel has posted on its website as of May 30th:
Sep. 14 vs. Clemson (+22.5)
Oct. 10 at NC State (+10)
Oct. 18 vs. Pittsburgh (+2)
Yes, you read those right. The Orange are underdogs in all three and significant dogs against both the Tigers and the Wolfpack.
Which line is the most surprising? It has to be the +10 against NC State. The oddsmakers’ logic has to center around the fact it’s a Thursday night game in Raleigh. Much like the Carrier Dome, Carter-Finley Stadium is one of the more underrated environments in college football. That’s a tough place to play in primetime. With that said, Dave Doeren is replacing practically his entire offense this fall. Right now, the quarterback competition is still open. Early reports say Redshirt-Sophomore Matthew McKay is the early favorite to take over for Ryan Finley.
Personally, I see NC State as a 5-6 win football team this year. That doesn’t mean one of the Wolfpack’s wins won’t come against the Orange, but it also doesn’t mean the home team should be a double-digit favorite in the matchup. Syracuse could be 4-1 at that point in the season and traveling to Raleigh with plenty of momentum. A road loss is always possible, but at this point in time it’s tough seeing that game getting out of hand.
While the NC State spread is the most surprising, the Pitt line (+2) is the most attractive to me. Syracuse and Pitt usually play close games, but the Orange are the better team this year. The Panthers, one year removed from an ACC Coastal Division title (six wins..), have to replace leading rushers Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall this year. That was one of the best running back tandems in the country. Plus, the Orange will be hungry for redemption after last year’s overtime loss in the Steel City. Syracuse should have no problem taking care of the Panthers this October.
Oh, there’s one more team, huh? Listen, there’s no use in speculating at this point about that matchup. On paper, 22 seems like a lot of points, but isn’t there a situation where Clemson runs away with the game in the second half? The last two matchups between the Tigers and Orange have been spectacular. Oddsmakers are assuming that won’t happen for the third straight year.
However you want to access these spreads, one thing is for sure: they’re disrespectful. The Orange are coming off their best season in a long time. Did Vegas forget about the 10 wins? Like any team, Syracuse has its pre-season concerns. However, those seem to have been exaggerated in these early lines.