Week 1: vs. Colgate
The Orange should get the season off to a good start against a Colgate team that isn’t very good. Syracuse hasn’t lost an FCS game since 1978, and the streak should continue here in Dino Babers’ first game in the Carrier Dome.
Week 2: vs. Louisville
This season, the Orange had an early conference game versus Wake Forest. Next year, week two will be no pushover. The Cardinals return a ton of talent from this season and Babers will be squaring off with coaching royalty in Bobby Petrino. This year, the Orange fell to Louisville 41-17 on the road, and it will definitely be tough to pull of a win in the Dome on a Friday night.
Week 3: vs. USF
A quick turnaround will allow Syracuse to look towards the win column again. USF inexcusably defeated the Orange this season 45-24, and this was one of the many poor losses that led to Scott Shafer’s firing. Like Louisville, USF will return plenty of talent and the game might actually be a toss-up. Syracuse should come out on top because of home field and hopefully enough returning talent. A loss here would be terrible for bowl hopes, especially because the Orange will not play in the Carrier Dome again until week seven.
Week 4: @ UConn
The first road game of the season will become a must-win if the Orange drops its week three game vs. USF. UConn, not necessarily revered as a football school, finished last season 6-6 and lost a bowl game to Marshall. The biggest win of the season came against Houston, but the Huskies also lost mediocre schools. This game is also a toss-up on the road.
Week 5: vs. Notre Dame (MetLife Stadium)
The last of Doc Gross’ MetLife experiments will be a tough test. The Fighting Irish are coming off of a wildly successful season which ended just short of the College Football Playoff. Not only will junior quarterback Deshone Kizer be returning from injury, but Notre Dame will also have plenty of talent including last year’s QB starter, Malik Zaire. Expect the Orange to drop this game.
Week 6: @ Wake Forest
Wake Forest was one of SU’s only wins in 2015, and the same can be projected for 2016. This should be a win for SU, and it comes at a good point in the schedule where the Orange can start to build momentum.
Week 7: vs. Virginia Tech
Since conference realignment, the Hokies have become somewhat of a sleeper in the ACC. With a new coach, it is hard to determine how VT will look. Ultimately, the team should be figured out by week seven, and the Hokies were much more talented than SU last year. Tech won a bowl game after finishing the season 6-6. SU will probably drop this game, too.
Week 8: @ Boston College
The ol’ Orange-Eagle rivalry is renewed in week eight on the road. Despite a dominating defense, BC had one of the worst offenses in college football last season. No signs point to this improving, so hopefully SU can pull out a road win here.
Week 10: @ Clemson
The defending runners-up, this game doesn’t even deserve a write-up. Clemson returns tons of talent on both sides of the ball and the Orange stands little-to-no chance on the road.
Week 11: vs. NC State
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett graduates from the Wolfpack this year, and he singlehandedly kept the Wolfpack relevant. The Orange shouldn’t be the favorites in this game, but with Florida State and Pitt looming, this game could be SU’s last realistic shot at its sixth win. NC State picked apart SU last year en route to a 42-29 win.
Week 12: vs. Florida State
Like Clemson, Florida State returns too much talent for the Orange to keep this game close. Unless Syracuse exceeds expectations left and right, chalk this up as a loss.
Week 13: @ Pittsburgh
Former Big East and current ACC rival Pitt has become a great benchmark game for SU over the last few years. The Panthers will lose Tyler Boyd to the draft, but head coach Pat Narduzzi should be bringing in top talent as he builds his program. If the Orange has five wins heading into this game, it may muster up the heart to pull out a sixth win. Otherwise, it could just be another road loss against a decent team.