With just four games to go in the 2017 season, SU Football sits at 4-4 with a great opportunity to make a bowl game. In all likelihood, a win in at least one of its last four games would give Syracuse its first bowl appearance since 2013. Last year, the Orange was in the same situation and couldn’t pick up a fifth win. This year feels different, or at least that’s what we think now.
Here are the four teams that stand in Syracuse’s way of extending its season into December.
Florida State (2-4) – November 4th: The Seminoles had a rocky start to the season. FSU lost Deondre Francois, its starting quarterback, in week one against Alabama. The ‘Noles lost that game 24-7. The Francois injury set the tone for the rest of the year. After having an unexpected bye week because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma, Florida State fell in its home opener to NC State. The Seminoles other two losses came against Louisville and Miami. So in case you haven’t figured it out, they don’t really have a “bad” loss on their resume. Not to mention, FSU hasn’t lost a game all season by more than six points. When Francois went down, so did the Seminoles chances of being a great team. However, even with that injury, Florida State is a really good team. In all likelihood, Syracuse will leave Florida on November 4th with its second straight loss.
Wake Forest (4-3) – November 11th: After a 4-0 start to the season, the Demon Deacons are reeling. Wake Forest has lost three in a row, including a 38-24 loss to Georgia Tech last week. The Demon Deacons don’t get a break in their schedule either. They host Louisville this week, and then travel to No. 9 Notre Dame the following week. Realistically, Wake Forest could come into the Carrier Dome on November 11th on a five-game losing streak. The Demon Deacons best win of the year came on September 9th at Boston College. Besides that 34-10 conference victory, their only other notable win was a 20-19 victory at Appalachian State. Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford has 1,199 so far on the season, which puts him at 11th in the ACC. This should be the game that gets Syracuse to the five win mark. Last season, many blamed the loss in Winston-Salem on the monsoon like conditions. That won’t be an excuse in the Carrier Dome.
Louisville (5-3) – November 18th: The Cardinals are another team that has underachieved so far this season. The wins might not be there, but quarterback Lamar Jackson’s stats are. Through the air, Jackson has 2,478 yards and 17 touchdowns. On the ground, the reigning Heisman trophy winner has rushed for 868 yards and 11 scores. That stat line has him back in the Heisman conversation this season. If you’re the Orange, you don’t really care about how well the rest of Louisville’s team is playing. It’s all about stopping Jackson. Given his performance against SU last year, that could be a problem. This is without a doubt going to be a tough game. If you’re looking for a bright spot, the Cardinals lost to Boston College at home 45-42 just two weeks ago. So if the eagles can knock off Jackson and the Cardinals, there’s no reason to think Syracuse won’t be able to do the same. It’s still tough to see Syracuse beating Louisville in Jackson’s last game at Papa John’s Stadium.
Boston College (4-4) – November 25th: This game is interesting. While you may think the Orange has had a much better season than the Eagles, their results have been surprisingly similar this year. Both team have three fairly unimpressive wins and a notable upset. But I think we can all agree Boston College’s win over Louisville wasn’t quite as impressive as SU’s stunning upset over Clemson. Last year, the Orange beat the Eagles on the road 28-20. That game remains the Orange’s best road win in the Babers-era. The only other win away from the Carrier Dome came against Connecticut earlier in the 2016 season. The good news for Syracuse? This is a home game. That should be enough to propel them to another win over Boston College.
So, how do things look for an SU bowl appearance? Really good. These are tough games, but at the same time they’re winnable games. Given the Orange’s success over the past three weeks, there’s no reason to believe they won’t win at least one of these games. In fact, there’s a good chance they could win two or three.
This final stretch is huge for Syracuse. Can they build momentum going into the offseason, or will they quietly fade back into the land of irrelevancy? Only time will tell.