As positively as it can be said, it wasn’t supposed to end this way for Syracuse football. By that, we mean the team that was picked to go winless in the ACC and finish with around three wins has exceeded all expectations. The Orange are now 5-5 and better than anyone thought they would be, but the season is still headed for a disappointing finish. For SU fans, it’s time for another mid-November attention shift to basketball season. Syracuse hoops vs. Drexel this evening, anyone?
Firstly, yesterday’s 41-3 whitewashing at the hands of Louisville showed us all just how far Syracuse is from truly competing with explosive, well-rounded teams. It’s another scar on Dino Babers’ growing record of blowout losses and yet another time the Cardinals have taken the Orange to the woodshed. Since 2014, Louisville is 7-1 against SU and has outscored Syracuse 337-152. All seven of those SU losses against the Cards have been by at least 22 points.
It’s also becoming increasingly apparent that quarterback Garrett Shrader has limitations. Outside of a great game against an uncharacteristically poor Virginia Tech defense, Shrader hasn’t been electrifying through the air. It’s clear Shrader is better than Tommy DeVito was, but the former has yet to complete more than 17 passes in a game and has finished with a completion percentage under 50% in four of his seven starts. In this day and age, it’s hard to win games if you can’t throw no matter how good your transcendent freshman running back is.
For most SU fans, I’d wager they were likely hoping against hope that this team could pull off a win against the Cardinals. If you check the Fizz’s game predictions, most of our writers were. Now, it’s clear that the team is a little too inconsistent for comfort and has an obvious ceiling set by its one-dimensional offense. A persistently grounded aerial attack and questionable game-to-game readiness have made for an also-ran.
‘Cuse football is now staring a 5-7 finish right in the face. A 4-5 Louisville team was regarded as Dino Babers’ last great opportunity to secure a bowl season. Now the Orange are 5-5 and looking at two straight ranked conference opponents: a road trip No. 21 NC State on November 20th, and a Dome matchup with No. 25 Pitt on November 27th. The Wolfpack have the 14th best scoring defense in the FBS, and the Panthers have cruised along to the tune of 3,517 passing yards from senior quarterback Kenny Pickett. We’ve underestimated the Orange a few times this year, but save your money if you’re a bettor. These games do not look promising.
No matter how this season shakes out, five (or more) wins after a 1-10 year is a great achievement. The potential bowl miss only hurts because the team was close enough to be even better. Yesterday’s loss was especially tough knowing Syracuse lost its three-straight three point games in October. This Orange team overachieved, but it doesn’t appear the season will end the way Babers dreamed of. Instead, his team feels exposed and hurtling toward a painful ending.