95. Out of the 128 FBS teams ranked by CBS on Tuesday, Syracuse came in at 95. That’s good for worst in the ACC, and the third worst of any Power 5 team.
CBS’s list is only the latest in a series of underwhelming expectations for the Orange this season. SB Nation, ESPN and Athlon Sports all have Syracuse in the bottom of the ACC’s Atlantic division, and only Patrick Stevens (of Syracuse.com) put the Orange in his top 80. This isn’t the way things were supposed to go.
At this point in 2014, the Orange was on the way up. Scott Shafer had proven he could fill the shoes of Doug Marrone with a bowl win in 2013, and promising quarterback Terrell Hunt looked primed and ready to take the next step in becoming the next Ryan Nassib. Athlon ranked Syracuse as the number 61 team in its preseason poll, and finishing third in the ACC Atlantic behind Florida State and Clemson (better than Louisville). The defensive-minded Scott Shafer was going take care of that side of the ball, and in its preseason prediction for the season Athlon said, “Syracuse should be set on offense.”
Going into 2015, the Orange is anything more than “set” on offense, and the defense has more holes than ever. Scott Shafer is on the hot seat, and every contender is looking at Syracuse as an easy win on the schedule. What happened? The 3-9 record didn’t help, but the Orange lost so much on both sides of the ball as well. The Orange’s leading rusher and receiver are both gone, and the defense lost eight of its week 1 starters from last season. Ouch.
Still, this team is better than what the experts give it credit for. Last year’s Orange was plagued (or bruised, if you’re a fan of Orange puns) with injuries, and the rise of players like Steve Ismael and Zaire Franklin gave fans some hope for the future. Syracuse isn’t an established team that’s just bad, but a team with a lot of question marks around it that could end up being decent.
This team won’t make a bowl game, but don’t be surprised if the Orange wins a few more games than expected this year.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson