Last week, Syracuse released the rest of the 2014 football non-conference schedule. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises is the Orange will travel to the state of Michigan, but not to visit Ann Arbor or East Lansing.
The Orange will start with a home opener against former Big East basketball foe Villanova before traveling to Central Michigan two weeks later. Syracuse also hosts Maryland at the Carrier Dome in a home-and-home series, with the second game coming in 2019. Lastly, the Orange will head to East Rutherford, NJ to play a neutral game with Notre Dame at Metlife Stadium.
The Central Michigan game is part of a two-for-one series that includes visits from the Chippewas to the Carrier Dome in 2015 and another at a later date. The Orange won the only game played between the schools in 1999 at the Dome. Central Michigan recently churned out the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Eric Fisher, who was also the first overall selection ever from the MAC conference.
The organization of the non-conference schedule is advantageous for the Orange. The ‘Nova and CMU games will allow the Orange to find its stride in the beginning of the season, setting up the games against stiffer competition. The schedule difficulty is different compared to this season. Many have wondered how the season, including the quarterback situation, would have played out if the games against Wagner and Tulane were before Penn State and Northwestern.
Drew Allen can only wonder.
Although Syracuse is not vying for a national championship in 2014, strength of schedule is always scrutinized. Maryland could be threat to SU, as they have played well thus far at 5-3 and have seen a boost in recruiting since their conference change announcement to the Big Ten in November 2012.
The showdown with Notre Dame will certainly be the strongest test for the Orange. This is yet another game Dr. Gross scheduled to gain exposure for the program in the NYC area. Syracuse has lost out on several high-profiled recruits in recent years to the Irish, some of whom are from the Big Apple. Prospective recruits will definitely be in attendance to see if the Orange can compete with the national brand of Notre Dame football. The stadium will most likely be packed with Irish fans, as Notre Dame has a very strong alumni presence and fanbase in the New York area.
Even with another five games remaining this season, it does not hurt to see who Syracuse will be facing next season. Could there be another quarterback competition if Terrel Hunt cannot produce?
At least this time around, the Orange will be eased into the season to make that decision.
Posted by: Zephan Mayell