In sports, a team can only take care of what it has in front of it. That is exactly what Syracuse has done through two games, but its schedule heats up quickly, and games will get considerably tougher. How the Orange fairs against its tougher opponents is crucial with the success of this season surmising on reaching a bowl game. In front of SU this week is the Florida State Seminoles, who squeaked by the Orange last year, and now may be playing in what could ultimately be one of Syracuse’s most pivotal games all season.
Here is a look at SU’s remaining schedule:
Vs. Florida State
Vs. North Carolina
Vs. NC State
@ Wake Forest
Vs. Notre Dame*
@ Boston College
* = neutral location
It’s still early, but a win over FSU may work wonders for the Orange later on. SU has ten games left. Seven of them are against teams that posted winning records last season. Five of those seven beat the Orange last year, and three of those five have already started 2-0. To make matters worse, neither Clemson nor Notre Dame is a part of those three, but both have still started 2-0 as well. Like last year, Syracuse’s schedule is no cakewalk, but at the end of the day, expectations are higher. If Dino Babers wants to get over that dreaded 4-win mark and perhaps reach a bowl game, a victory on Saturday could be tremendous.
Beating the Seminoles, a mere 3-point favorite, would give the Orange some room for error not just in a potential trap game, but also against its tougher opponents. For instance, no matter what happened last year, SU’s Week 5 bout with Clemson doesn’t promise to be a breeze. In the event its trip to Death Valley doesn’t go as planned, Syracuse would still at least have a win over Florida State and ideally, a 4-0 record (if it beats UConn) beforehand to fall back on.
No sugarcoating here, Florida State’s football program is a storied one. The Seminoles have won three national championships, 18 conference titles, and before last year, hadn’t lost more than three games in a season since Syracuse joined the ACC in 2013. Even a down year by program standards still saw them battle their way to seven wins and an Independence Bowl victory just a season ago. In doing so, FSU squeaked one out over the Orange down in Tallahassee, which will likely be on the minds of many on The Hill this weekend.
For Syracuse, the focus is certainly on the present, but that doesn’t mean the past is completely forgotten. Nothing can be done about last year’s result, but Babers likely has his team thinking the right way. The fact that SU marched into Doak Campbell Stadium and fought to the very last play should have the Orange feeling confident this time around. Now, for the second consecutive year, Syracuse faces a Florida State team it has a legitimate chance to compete with and even beat. The Seminoles come in looking shaky thus far, which could mean a solid performance in front a rocking Carrier Dome crowd gets job the done.
All told, Saturday’s showdown at the Loud House will be an important opportunity for the Orange. SU is already 2-0, a great start towards topping four wins this campaign. However, four wins is no longer the goal, and by now, should be accomplished with ease. Six wins and a bowl game are in sight, and defeating Florida State can really help Syracuse get there.