An old Big East rivalry is renewed Saturday night when Syracuse heads east to take on UConn. The Orange are 23-point road favorites after their 24-point blowout win over Louisville. The line certainly seems high, but it makes more sense when you look at the team the Huskies have been recently.
This is a UConn squad without its starting quarterback and is in the first season of new head coach Jim Mora. The roster has been completely turned over from year to year, and it‚Äôs a developmental process to bring the Huskies back to some semblance of relevant Division I football. For as much as people hate on where Syracuse is, the Orange certainly are in a much better position than the Huskies.
Despite all this, UConn has looked semi-competent through two weeks of the season. The Huskies played Utah State tight on the road before letting things get away a little bit late and then blew out Central Connecticut State last weekend at home. It‚Äôs not perfect, but still a step in the right direction.
All this build-up leads to the point of this weekend‚Äôs game. Syracuse should win this game, but by how much will define what kind of season this could be. At this point, it would be a disappointment if the Orange weren‚Äôt 4-1 heading into their bye and then gauntlet of ACC games.
If SU can blow out UConn by 20-plus points and maybe even cover, that is the sign of a well-coached and balanced team. It remains to be seen if that is the case, but this weekend is another step in that direction. The Orange have more talent, experience, and resources within their program to win this game comfortably.
But, as has been true throughout Dino Babers‚Äô tenure, the Orange are not a very good road team. Syracuse is even worse in cold weather, but thankfully the forecast on Saturday night calls for temperatures in the 80s. That is certainly good news for SU, who in early season road games has been good compared to ones in October and November.
In each of Babers‚Äô seasons where Syracuse played a road nonconference game (every year except 2020), it won at least one. This includes 2016, Babers‚Äô first season when the Orange took down the Huskies in East Hartford 31-24 in September. The recipe for success is clear.
If Syracuse can blowout UConn, that changes expectations, perspectives, and everything about this season for this program. It sets up the first 2-0 start since 2018 and a huge matchup in the Dome with Purdue next weekend. That will likely be the biggest test for SU until conference play starts in October, and will get the fanbase to the Dome to watch their undefeated Orange. Blowing out, and maybe even covering the spread against UConn can change Syracuse‚Äôs season.