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Does Syracuse Stand a Chance Against Its Trio of AP Top-25 Opponents?

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Thirty-four wins, six losses. That’s the combined 2013 record for Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame, teams Syracuse football matches up with this coming college football season.

The Associated Press released its Top 25 Preseason Poll Sunday afternoon, and Syracuse will face those three ranked teams.

The Orange first takes on #17 Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on September 27th. SU then welcomes the defending national champion, preseason #1 FSU, at the Carrier Dome on October 11th. Two weeks later Syracuse travels down to Clemson to try and keep pace with the #16 Tigers.

Realistically, how much of a shot does Syracuse have to win against this trio? Can SU even stay in these ball games? It’s still very early to predict specific matchups, but it doesn’t hurt to wonder. Let’s take a look. 

Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish easily stands out as the most beatable ranked opponent for the Orange. Multiple reports of academic fraud have distracted the team in the offseason. Former Syracuse recruit Ishaq Williams and three other players have already been benched for the coming season, including WR DaVarius Daniels and DB KeiVarae Russell, both of whom played huge roles in the program’s run to the 2012 BCS National Championship. Four players are not going to completely change their on-field product but the distraction may carry on Brian Kelly’s shoulders during the first handful of games. Even so, the Irish a year ago lost to Pittsburgh, a squad SU battled closely with at the close of 2013. Syracuse’s defense does have an advantage with Daniels, the team’s top pass-catcher, out. The neutral site and good timing of the game also allows lots of Syracuse fans and potential recruits to come and support the Orange, which could also factor into better odds. 

Florida State 

Behind Heisman winner Jameis Winston, the Seminoles destroyed Syracuse down in Tallahassee 59 – 3 last year. This year, Florida State received 57 of 60 first-place votes. If the Seminoles hold onto the ranking, SU would host its first top-ranked team at the Dome since November 30, 2002, when Miami (Fla.) defeated the Orange 49-7. Winston returning obviously blows the Orange out of the water immediately. Remember Syracuse sort of caught FSU at the right time last year when Jameis was in the midst of a sexual assault scandal. Trust Scott Shafer to fire up his troops before this one if the Seminoles are still indeed no. 1 when this matchup comes around. Expect a lot of hype and excitement from the fan base, too.

Clemson

If this game was at the Carrier Dome again, I would be feeling a lot better about SU’s chances. Clemson pounded Syracuse  49– 14 at the Dome last year. No Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins connections this season for the No. 16 Tigers., though. That certainly downgrades their chances against anyone. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is on record that his team will not take any steps backward despite losing the Boyd-Watkins pair. That offense averaged more than 40 points and 500 yards a game the past two seasons. Yikes. And the game is at Clemson. The fact no one is giving Clemson a lot of respect this year should motivate that program a lot. Given this game is on the road and later in the season (the Tigers’ offense can pick up its speed), this probably marks another loss for Syracuse, even if Clemson has yet to solidify its offensive identity. 

Depending on how you look at the bye week, Syracuse does not come off a bye week any time it plays these ranked teams. Syracuse has a realistic shot to win one of these three games. There’s even some potential to win at Clemson. What do you guys think? How does the Orange fare in these ball games?

Posted by: Brendon Glasheen

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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