Syracuse is back from the bye week, and now the season really gets going. The number 18 Orange begin a stretch of six straight games against teams who either are or have been ranked this season with a matchup against number 15 NC State Saturday. SU‚Äôs 5-0 start has caught the attention of oddsmakers.
Syracuse is anywhere between a four and five point favorite against the Wolfpack, likely boosted by the uncertainty surrounding NC State quarterback Devin Leary‚Äôs availability after the preseason ACC player of the year was injured this week against Florida State. Regardless of why the Orange are favored, it begs the question: how has SU done as a favorite in a conference game since Dino Babers took over?
First of all, it hasn‚Äôt happened very often of late. Since 2018, Syracuse has only been favored three times against ACC opponents. The first was in 2019 at home against Boston College. SU was a three point favorite, and lost 58-27. Safe to say the Orange didn‚Äôt cover. Syracuse was also favored last year in the Dome against BC, and covered a 6.5 point spread with a 21-6 win. Then there was the Virginia game this year, where SU went in as 10-point favorites and squeaked out a 22-20 win.
It will come as no surprise that 2018 was a different story. Syracuse was favored in five straight games: at Pitt, vs. North Carolina, vs NC State, at Wake Forest and vs Louisville. The Orange went 4-1 outright, the only loss being against Pitt in overtime, and 3-2 against the spread, as SU didn‚Äôt cover against UNC.
Prior to 2018 was much like it has been since that 10 win season. In 2017, Syracuse was favored twice in conference play, but didn‚Äôt cover either time. One was a three point win over Pitt, and the other was a 64-43 loss to Wake Forest as a one point home favorite. That is SU‚Äôs biggest margin of defeat when favored in the Babers era. That‚Äôs it as far as pre-2018 examples go. SU wasn‚Äôt favored in a single one of its conference games in 2016.
So, overall under Babers, the Orange are 5-5 against the spread when favored against ACC opponents, and 7-3 outright. The fact that Syracuse is giving points to NC State Saturday is in and of itself a testament to the state of the program. Even with Leary‚Äôs status in question, SU being favored against a conference opponent is a big deal because it doesn‚Äôt happen often.
This is the second time it has in SU‚Äôs last two ACC games. Now, it‚Äôs up to the Orange to make this a regular occurrence, and a good way to start would be beating the Wolfpack.