In an “ACC stock watch” article on ESPN.com Monday, David Hale said he was “buying” Syracuse’s bowl hopes. It may seem a bit far-fetched for those of us who have been watching this team for the past year, but it still begs the question: how would the Orange get there? Six wins gets Syracuse to a bowl game, and here’s a look at the route Syracuse would have to take to get back to a bowl game in 2015.
The Orange is a 7 point favorite over Central Michigan for this weekend’s game at the Carrier Dome. This game is a must-win on the Syracuse’s road map to a bowl game. ESPN’s Football Power Index says the Orange have an 81.1 percent chance of beating the Chippewas, and after this week the team will only be favored in one more game this season. Six games will be hard enough to put together without Syracuse losing one of the only games it is favored in.
After Central Michigan, wins get a lot harder to pick out. The Orange is only projected to win one more game after this weekend (against South Florida), but if you go down Syracuse’s schedule there are winnable games to be found. After the LSU game in two weeks, the Orange plays Virginia on the road. Virginia may have come close to an upset against Notre Dame last weekend, but ESPN’s ACC Power Rankings still has the Cavaliers a spot below the Orange. Beating a Pitt team without James Conner the next week is within the realm of possibility, and if Syracuse is able to execute in all of those games the Orange is at a 6-1 start and set to go bowling by the end of October. If (and this is probably more likely) Syracuse drops one of the three games against South Florida, Virginia and Pittsburgh, the Orange will have to pick up a win against either NC State and Boston College (assuming the Florida State, Louisville and Clemson games are penciled in losses). Both teams are more talented than Scott Shafer’s squad, and it’s much more likely the Orange ends the season on a five-game losing streak.
Syracuse probably isn’t a bowl-caliber team, but its schedule has given it the opportunity to get the six wins necessary to make it there. It’s a lot of speculation right now, and anyone who watched this team last year knows to proceed with caution.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson