As if there already wasn’t enough hype in Central New York surrounding Syracuse’s upcoming football season, ESPN has announced the start time for three of the Orange’s 12 games this fall. The headliner is Syracuse hosting Clemson on Sep. 14 at 7:30 p.m. on ABC. This is the first time the Carrier Dome will host ESPN’s marquee game of the week.
🚨 SCHEDULE ALERT 🚨
It's official! Our Sept. 14 home opener vs. Clemson will be played in primetime!
— Syracuse Football (@CuseFootball) May 15, 2019
Outside of that, the Orange add two games on ESPN: 8 p.m. on Oct. 10 at NC State, followed by a 7 p.m. start on Oct. 18 inside the Dome against Pittsburgh. Oddly enough, Syracuse will play twice in primetime on ESPN in eight days without playing a game on a Saturday.
Rightfully so, the announcement of the Clemson game being featured on Saturday Night Football has a lot of fans optimistic about Syracuse landing ESPN’s College GameDay for the week three tilt. That’s far from a guarantee. Over the years, the worldwide leader has become more and more willing to send the GameDay crew to a game that it isn’t covering. For example, Lee Corso and the crew opened last season in South Bend for Notre Dame and Michigan. NBC broadcast the game.
Why is this relevant? Just because Syracuse and Clemson are playing in ABC’s primetime window doesn’t mean GameDay is a lock to make its first ever appearance in the Salt City. Personally, I don’t see how the program doesn’t follow the game if both teams are 2-0. Clemson starts the season with Georgia Tech and Texas A&M, both at home. While the Aggies may push the Tigers to the limit, there’s no reason to believe the defending national champions won’t pick up those early season wins.
For Syracuse, the path to 2-0 isn’t quite as easy. The more the national media hypes up the Orange’s week three matchup, the more the average fan should be worried about Syracuse’s week three matchup with Maryland. Remember, SU is no longer the team programs will overlook on any given Saturday. A ten-win season puts you on the map. If Dino Babers’ group looks ahead too far, they might not make it to 2-0.
If the Orange aren’t undefeated, ESPN may be tempted to follow other games like Alabama and South Carolina. The Gamecocks aren’t expected to be anything special, but quarterback Jake Bentley’s experience could make for an intriguing game. After all, how much convincing would it take to cover an early season SEC matchup? That game will almost certainly be CBS’s 3:30 p.m. game of the week.
Prediction: Both Syracuse and Clemson start the season 2-0 and College GameDay visits Central New York for the first time in its existence. If SU falters early, the program may decide to go elsewhere. Hosting Saturday Night Football is a step in the right direction for the Orange, but there is still work to be done.