Over the summer, the Fizz asked numerous times when the Orange could expect be back in the national picture, and spent time on Fizz Radio talking about it as well. Not only are these next three weeks big for this season and the bowl hopes, but also for the idea of SU being “back.”
First, the Orange has a game in primetime on ABC Saturday in MetLife Stadium, against Notre Dame. Syracuse Football has not played a game at that time since 2006, according to SU Athletics. This weekend will open the Orange up to national exposure that the program simply has not had in years. There are SU-ND commercials running during SportsCenter all week. In speaking to a former ESPN producer, he believes this game could double the ratings of a typical ABC Saturday night game due to Notre Dame’s popularity. That is the power of this game, and the time slot. It is completely possible that a future recruit gets his first taste of SU Football this weekend.
Second, the Orange plays another ESPN showcase game next weekend against Louisville on Friday night. Although Louisville has lost some of their star power in the past year with the departure of Head Coach Charlie Strong and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals are still a big name in the national picture. Back to back weeks the Orange is being thrown into a premium TV slot. The Orange has a chance to reach another huge audience.
And lastly, the third week of this stretch is SU-Florida State. The defending National Champions, and the defending Heisman Trophy winner in Jameis Winston coming into the Carrier Dome. It’s also another game likely to be on ESPN. These showcase games bring audiences, and exposure for a program that hasn’t been consistently good in a while.
Now, what do the Orange need to do in these three games to make the most of their exposure.
- Win at least one of the games
This goes without saying, in a sense. It may sound like a challenge, but that is because it will be a challenge for the Orange to win one of these games. It likely will need to be Louisville who is the least talented of this three game stretch. If the Orange can pull off a big win in the Dome next Friday that will go a long way in continuing to repair the national image of the Orange.
- Stay close against Notre Dame
As far as reputation goes, the Orange cannot afford to be blown out on Saturday at MetLife. That would be the absolute worst-case scenario for SU. If they can keep the game within 10 points all night, and maybe have a chance to strike with a late score, it could be interesting. Don’t forget, this is big picture. The Orange need to impress people Saturday night to work on bringing the program “back.”
- Don’t get embarrassed
This may seem like an obvious key, but it is also the most likely of the three, especially with Florida State on the schedule. The Orange was blown out by Florida State last year in Tallahassee. If you feel the Dome might give the Orange a big home field advantage and change things this year, look at the Clemson game from a season ago. When building a program, which Scott Shafer is still doing with the Orange, it is important not to get completely blown out in big time games. Because the Orange is playing Florida State, it is likely this game ends up on ESPN going to a huge audience around the country. Simply put: SU cannot look silly.
These three games can go a long way in determining how long it is until SU is “back” to the success of the late 90s and before. If the Orange can be successful in these three weeks, maybe it grabs some new fans who like the Dome and the jerseys, maybe it sways a couple of recruits down the line who are being introduced to big-time college football. Things like that get overlooked, but can be key to the success of a program.
Posted: Seth Goldberg