College football is creeping up on us Fizz Nation! The final members of Syracuse’s 2022 recruiting class just joined the team recently in the Salt City. SU opens up its season in less than two months. Now, this team is really hard to get a read on so it’s very difficult to go about projecting what they could accomplish this fall.
That’s not going to stop us from giving it our best shot though. Word of advice before we get going, don’t put any money on win totals with this team. The Orange could go 3-9, but they could also go 9-3 there’s just so many toss up games this year and things like momentum could tell the tale of the season. Instead, use your money weekly because we expect Syracuse to once again be one of the best squads against the spread this year. SU finished 8-4 ATS in 2021.
We already did part one and established that we think SU will be 3-3, 1-2 at the midway point of the season. Let’s transition to the more difficult half of the schedule and predict how the Orange will finish in 2022.
Week 7 @ Clemson L (80% Confidence)
For some reason there’s an optimistic vibe surrounding this game. Syracuse fans have been clamoring for a serious ACC rival since 2013. Perhaps the Tigers are the closest thing to that for the Orange. SU has played Dabo Swinney and company very competitively under Babers. Last year, the ‘Cuse fell 17-14 on a late missed field goal from Andre Szmyt. That game was very winnable for Syracuse though, no doubt about that.
Expect SU to hang in there for the first half but the wheels fall off in the second. Clemson returns a dynamic one-two punch at running back with Will Shipley and Kobe Pace. In front of these two ball carriers is an offensive line that returns a bulk of its 2021 production. Yes, DJ Uiagalelei was very inconsistent last season, but the Tigers will dominate this game in the trenches en route to a win in Death Valley.
Week 8 vs Notre Dame L (70% Confidence)
Super fun that the Golden Domers are back on the schedule and coming to the 315! ND returns to the Salt City for the first time since 2016. Unlike that 50-33 win for the Fighting Irish, the 2022 rendition projects to be low scoring. The question is which team can hold up the longest and which team has the most depth to gain the advantage?
There are a lot of unknowns surrounding Notre Dame’s offense. Former blue chip quarterback getting his first significant action, a former national recruit running back who has shown flashes but not consistency, and a wideout room with no proven commodities. At tight end, ND has one of the best NFL prospects in Michael Mayer. In the trenches, the Fighting Irish are always solid and return three starters with more experienced players ready to step in.
Defensively, there are less question marks and more periods. Isaiah Foskey has star potential and looks to build on an eleven sack campaign last season. At linebacker, JD Bertrand returns after totaling over 100 tackles on year ago. In the secondary, Northwestern transfer Brandon Joseph is ready to show why he was an All-American in 2020 and one of the most coveted transfers on the market.
If Notre Dame can get its offense rolling, and it should by week 8/9, then this is a dangerous team and one that should handle Syracuse. ND wins a competitive mid-scoring contest to extend SU’s losing skid to three games.
Week 9 @ Pittsburgh L (75% Confidence)
This early November showdown is the game to keep your eyes on this year. A win in the Steel City could propel Syracuse to a strong finish, maybe even a 4-0 finish, who knows. In any case, if SU wins this game it is extremely likely they make a bowl game. There are six very likely wins on this schedule: UCONN, Virginia, Wagner, FSU, BC, and maybe Pittsburgh.
After two probable losses to Clemson and Notre Dame, the Orange will be reeling and sitting with a 3-5 record and dangerously close to missing out on a bowl game. A defeat to old Big East rival Pitt would be very crippling to morale and chances at the postseason.
In 2022, the Panthers have to replace an NFL quarterback in Kenny Pickett, stud wide receiver Jordan Addison who left for USC, and a very bright offensive coordinator in Mark Whipple. Can Pitt get solid quarterback play from former Trojan Kedon Slovis? That’s the biggest and frankly only question surrounding Pat Narduzzi’s team.
Around Slovis, there’s a three-headed monster at running back, a veteran wideout with a MAC transfer that lit it up at Akron, and a trench unit which brings back its top seven offensive lineman and a proven tight end. So long as the passing game can be a threat, this Panthers offense is threatening on paper.
Flipping over to the other side of the ball, a pair of all-conference players anchor the defensive line, Syracuse native SirVocea Dennis is primed for a massive year, and the secondary brings back most of its contributors from 2021.
With so many known commodities and a program that continues to trend up year after year, this looks like an uphill battle. Syracuse loses this road test and puts its bowl hopes on life support.
Week 10 vs Florida State W (55% Confidence)
Depending on what happens in what used to be called Heinz Field, Syracuse may have to win out the rest of the way to stay in contention for the postseason. SU benefits from getting FSU at a very opportune time. The Seminoles travel to Coral Gables the week before heading up to the Salt City. That’s a decent amount of traveling to be doing in two weeks.
On top of that, Syracuse took Florida State all the way to the wire last season. The Noles knocked off the Orange on a late field goal but that could’ve easily been a win for the ‘Cuse. Mike Norvell, FSU’s head coach, is 8-13 entering his third season so 2022 will be massive for him and determining the trajectory of the program.
The Seminoles bring back some experienced, but unproven skill position players, four offensive line starters, a solid two-way tight end, and an up and down quarterback in Jordan Travis. On the defensive side, the defensive line looks to be very solid with the addition of four-star UAlbany transfer Jared Verse. In the second level there are question marks at corner, safety, and linebacker.
Syracuse will have its back against the wall in a game it needs to have in the Dome. Let’s not forget what happened the last time FSU made its way up to the Loud House. SU this one and keeps its bowl berth hopes alive but still in critical condition.
Week 11 @ Wake Forest L (65% Confidence)
Syracuse’s 2022 season may hinge on trips to Winston-Salem and Chestnut Hill in back to back weeks. Perhaps the Orange’s bout with the Demon Deacons will be their last chance to avoid bowl ineligibility. Wake returns pretty much all of its starting 22 and many backups that earned valuable playing time due to attrition down the stretch of 2021. Last year, the Demon Deacs won with their offense. Sam Hartman lit up Syracuse’s secondary and tossed a game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to seal a 40-37 win over SU.
Expect Wake Forest to be playing darts once again this season. Hartman should have a field day connecting with 1st team All-ACC receiver A.T. Perry and former 2nd-teamer Donavan Greene who’s back from injury. On top of that, the Demon Deacons run that confusing mesh zone in the run game which really causes some problems for Syracuse’s defense.
On the other side, the Deacs bring back several playmakers at each level of the defense. Three experienced defensive lineman hold down the trenches, veteran linebacker Ryan Smenda returns in the middle, and the second level of the defense has seen quite a bit of football too.
Much like last season, this contest figures to be a shootout. Wake Forest has many more proven and experienced weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The Demon Deacons will outlast the Orange in a high-scoring affair.
Week 12 @ Boston College W (65% Confidence)
This might be it folks, the 2022 season may all come down to this game. A Thanksgiving road trip to a blistering cold Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill. BC figures to limping after consecutive road bouts with NC State and Notre Dame. SU may be limping too but with a potential 5-6 record and chance to clinch a bowl, the Orange should be fired up.
The Eagles are a very intriguing team. On the one hand they have dynamite playmakers in wideouts Zay Flowers, Jaelen Gill, and running back Pat Garwo. But on the other, there’s an up and down signal caller in Phil Jurkovec and an offensive line which brings back ZERO starters. That is absolutely massive for a Syracuse team that figures to be dominated more often than not in the trenches.
On defense, BC is very solid and has very few question marks. Last year, that same Eagles defense couldn’t contain Sean Tucker. The Maxwell watch lister ran for 207 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Garrett Shrader accumulated a whopping 65 yards on 5-14 passing in the 21-6 win. SU’s passing game figures to only take steps forward this season and by the game twelve, the aerial attack should be clicking on all cylinders. Syracuse wins its season finale in a low scoring defensive battle.
Well there you have it, another 5-7 season for the ‘Cuse with a 3-5 record in conference. Considering the difficulty of the schedule, that’s not terrible but obviously fans are restless and expect more in year seven of the Babers era. Most oddsmakers have SU’s win total at five and anywhere in that neighborhood.
The Orange have a chance to hit 8-4, maybe 9-3 if they can get hot but they could also go 3-9. This season figures to be wacky and SU could pull off a win any given week. Drop your predictions in the comments or hit us up @orangefizz on Twitter.