Syracuse football fans probably rolled their eyes when they saw the Orange’s first over/under win total for the 2017 season. Four. However, don’t let Vegas dictate the expectations for this year’s team. While the schedule has been declared the hardest in the nation by CBS Sports, there are some cupcake games that the Orange should take care of easily. Plus, Dino Babers has demonstrated the ability to pull off the upset, especially inside the Dome. That being said, there are seven winnable games on SU’s schedule.
The Orange did itself a huge favor by scheduling its easy games at home. While this may sound like the opposite of what SU should do, imagine if Syracuse played Wake Forest inside the Dome last season as opposed to in the middle of Hurricane Matthew. We are probably looking at an SU win and therefore a bowl appearance. The important thing in Syracuse getting to at least five wins is the start. The Orange has to get out to a 3-0 start, which is very much in the realm of possibility. The only potential hiccup could be Central Michigan, but that game is at home, which gives SU the edge.
There is only one home game that you look at and say “yeah, Syracuse shouldn’t bother showing up that day.” That game is against defending champion Clemson. But teams like Pitt, Wake Forest and Boston College all are a part of the path to five or more wins. The Panthers lost one of its best players in James Conner, the Demon Deacons weren’t super dynamic last season and have the second worst recruiting class in the ACC per 247Sports, and then BC is, well, BC. Another reason for optimism is the fact that the Orange’s quarterback situation looks much more stable for next season. Last year, Eric Dungey had a 4-4 record in games he played start to finish. Now, if Dungey were to get hurt like he has the past two seasons, in comes four star freshman Tommy DeVito instead of a guy who was once a walk-on out of junior college in Zack Mahoney.
Now the road schedule is a completely different beast. It’s so brutal, that the Orange most likely won’t win a game away from the Dome. Luckily this isn’t basketball and there’s no committee to ding Syracuse’s lack of road wins. All but one of SU’s away games comes against a team ranked in ESPN’s Post-Spring Top 25. The lone outsider is NC State, and last season the Wolfpack beat Syracuse, convincingly won a bowl game and nearly beat Florida State and Clemson. So, yeah. The Orange is going to have to salvage the Dome turf.
In the end, the Dome advantage and Babers’ gaining more familiarity with the team tells me that SU will win go 6-1 at home with the loss coming against Clemson, but 0-5 on the road. Happy Bowling, Syracuse fans.
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