If you can believe it, Syracuse football‚Äôs season opener is just over two weeks away. While we spent most of last summer dreading opening day after a 1-10 season, there‚Äôs some legitimate buzz surrounding this year‚Äôs SU squad. It‚Äôs bowl or bust for Dino Babers and company, but the newly-released AP Preseason poll shows that ‚ÄòCuse‚Äôs road to the postseason won‚Äôt be easy.
Two of Syracuse‚Äôs 2022 opponents actually crack the preseason Top 5. The Orange play Clemson (No. 4) and Notre Dame (No. 5) in back-to-back weeks in late October. The Tigers were finally pushed off their ACC Champion pedestal last year by Pitt, but some publications (including our own) consider Clemson a conference title threat. SU fell to Clemson in the Dome last season 17-14. Meanwhile, Syracuse didn‚Äôt play Notre Dame last year, but the Fighting Irish enter the season highly ranked under head coach Marcus Freeman. ND last defeated Syracuse in the 2020 season finale, 45-21.
NC State is the next highest ranked Syracuse opponent, entering the season at No. 13. The Wolfpack qualified for a bowl last year for the seventh time in nine years under head coach Dave Doeren and finished inside the Top 25 for the first time since 2017. State took down SU 41-17 last season.
Pitt (No. 17) and Wake Forest (No. 22) round out Syracuse‚Äôs ranked opponents on the preseason poll. The Panthers are now down former quarterback Kenny Pickett and wideout Jordan Addison, but head coach Pat Narduzzi‚Äôs bunch looks to have retained enough talent with 14 returning starters. Dave Clawson‚Äôs Demon Deacons bring back the same number, but quarterback Sam Hartman‚Äôs health is still an open question after the team announced his indefinite absence for a non-football related condition. Last year, both Wake and Pitt beat Syracuse by scores of 40-37 (OT) and 31-14, respectively.
Syracuse‚Äôs Week 3 opponent – Purdue – doesn‚Äôt crack the Top 25, but received votes in both the AP and Coaches‚Äô poll. The Boilermakers got 17 votes in the AP Poll after a 9-4 ‚Äò21 season that included a Music City Bowl victory over Tennessee. Purdue now lacks recent NFL draftees in defensive end George Karlaftis and wideout David Bell, but sixth-year quarterback Aidan O‚ÄôConnell returns after a 28 touchdown campaign. This year‚Äôs matchup will mark Purdue‚Äôs first-ever trip to the Dome – in the only other meeting in history between the two, the Kyle Orton-led Boilermakers annihilated the Orange 51-0 in West Lafayette on Opening Day in 2004.
Other non-opponent ACC teams to appear in the preseason poll include Miami (No. 16) and UNC (received votes).