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Syracuse Football Preview: Strength of Schedule

Syracuse has a demanding schedule ahead of them in the ACC this year. 

The Orange sit just outside of the top 25 toughest schedules in the FBS. Northwestern holds the preseason No. 25 spot, leaving SU with the 26th most difficult slate.

Let’s look at the Orange’s football schedule and a couple of crucial matchups.

Week 1: Louisville Cardinals @ Syracuse Orange

The Orange open the season against the Louisville Cardinals on September 3rd. This game could define how the rest of the season goes, as the Cardinals’ preseason rating is well above average. 

Louisville’s current preseason Football Power Index (FPI) is 7.2, putting the Kentucky team at an estimated No. 36 in the FBS. If you are unfamiliar with how FPI ratings work, I’ll quickly simplify it. 

The FPI numbers indicate how many points a team should win or lose if they were playing an average team on a neutral field. In the Orange’s case, their preseason rating is 1.4, meaning they should beat a team like Tulane by at least one-and-a-half points in a neutral setting. Conversely, the Louisville Cardinals’ rating is 7.2. So, because both teams are above average, we can directly subtract the numbers for the difference. In this case, Louisville should beat the Orange by 6 points on a neutral field – 5.8 rounded up to the nearest half. 

However, they are not playing at a neutral site; they will play in Syracuse. Because of home-field advantage, we have to give the Orange a few points. For SU and the JMA Wireless Dome, this comes to the average HFA number of 2.5. 

Without factoring in other aspects, we should expect a betting line of -3.5 for Louisville. But the early Week 1 lines opened at a one-field-goal difference.

So, if Louisville wins outright, we will see them move up the FPI ratings and the power rankings. Heck, even if they keep it close and lose by just a field goal or less, it’s still a good sign for the Orange and the demanding schedule they are in for in 2022.

Week 4: Virginia Cavaliers @ Syracuse Orange

Another telling early-season game will take place when the Virginia Cavaliers travel to New York and face the Orange in Syracuse. 

We haven’t found an early line for Week 4 at any Virginia sports betting sites or others yet, but let’s break it down and set our own line. Virginia is much closer in FPI rating than Louisville at 2.2. So, as long as the Orange doesn’t flop in the first three weeks of play, we can safely assume the sportsbooks will once again give Syracuse 3 points for home-field advantage. So we have 2.2 minus 1.4 plus 3. This number brings us to a theoretical 4-point spread. That said, I doubt they’ll open the line on a pushable number and probably reduce the opening line down to Syracuse -3.5 so that no matter which side you bet on, you either win or lose, not push.

The Season After Wagner

Syracuse basically gets a rest during Week 5 when The Wagner Seahawks come to town. But after that, they face a slew of tough opponents. Starting with NC State:

  • NC State Wolfpack (FPI 9.6)
  • Clemson Tigers (FPI 22.8)
  • Notre Dame Fighting Irish (FPI 17.7)
  • Florida State Seminoles (FPI 8.5)
  • Wake Forest Demon Deacons (FPI 9.1)

Syracuse will face five tough teams in a row before they finally finish the regular season with the Boston College Eagles, who have the same preseason FPI as the Orange at 1.4. That said, this game won’t be a cakewalk as the Orange have to go to Boston. The one question mark already looming is how injury-laden Syracuse will be that late in the season?

Boston College’s schedule isn’t easy, per se, since they face many of the same teams as the Orange this year. However, their tough games are spread out. 

The Orange have a rough road ahead and are going to lose some games during that five-game hell stretch. That said, if they open strong against Louisville, they have a chance at a successful campaign.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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