Going into Saturday, we know Syracuse is going bowling. We know the Orange has exceeded expectations. We know SU has a tough task against Boston College on the road. But with all this in mind, the Orange’s outlook for the postseason is still up in the air. While we can pinpoint a handful of bowls, Saturday is going to tell us a lot about where Syracuse winds up in December.
For starters, let’s get you primed up for the typical bowls that house ACC teams. With the Orange Bowl in the College Football Playoff rotation this year, the conference’s second best team is likely to see a drop off in bowl quality, especially given the ACC’s overall struggles. The bowls with ACC affiliation are the Sun Bowl, Military Bowl, Belk Bowl, Camping World Bowl, Music City Bowl, Pinstripe Bowl, Gator Bowl, Independence Bowl and Quick Lane Bowl. Along with those, there are a pair of New Year’s Six bowls in the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl, which both feature at-large teams.
You can already rule out a few of those based on reputation and tier. The Music City Bowl has all but ruled out Syracuse because of its distance to Nashville and its desire for a driving fanbase. The Orange is also probably too good for the Music City Bowl. SU is probably too desirable to fall to other smaller bowls like the Military, Independence and Quick Lane Bowls. The Orange also probably isn’t a desirable proximity for the Belk Bowl given all the bowl-eligible ACC schools in the state of North Carolina. That leaves the Gator Bowl, Sun Bowl, Camping World Bowl and Pinstripe Bowl, as well as the two at-large New Year’s Six bowls. However, the Orange likely knocked itself out of the NY6’s after last week’s loss.
To tier off some of the bowls, the highest ACC-affiliated bowl is the Camping World Bowl. After that, the Gator, Belk, Music City, Pinstripe and Sun Bowls are all equal at the tier below. The rest fall in the final tier.
With a win: 9-3 (5-2, 2nd in ACC Atlantic and 3rd in ACC overall)
This puts the Orange in a prime position for the Camping World Bowl. And who knows? With four teams ahead of them playing against ranked teams, Syracuse might be able to sneak its way up to just outside the top 10. But a lot would have to go right and the Orange would have to really hand it to the Eagles. In all likelihood, a win cements SU into the Camping World Bowl against a Big 12 opponent like West Virginia or Iowa State. And hey, Orlando ain’t a bad place to spend a week in December.
With a loss: 8-4 (4-3, 3rd in ACC Atlantic and 4th, 5th or 6th in ACC overall)
This is where things get jumbled. If the Orange loses to BC, it’s increasingly likely that they will wind up in the (cue the groans) … Pinstripe Bowl. It makes too much sense for a New York team to wind up back in the Big Apple because of the proximity. And even though it was a Notre Dame home game, the Orange had a good crowd on hand in its loss at Yankee Stadium. That will certainly appeal to the Pinstripe Bowl committee much more than it would for the Gator and Sun Bowls down south.