Dino Babers has pulled Syracuse out from the depths of the dark abyss this season. The #14 Orange head to Death Valley for a bout with #5 Clemson this weekend. SU has a perfect 6-0 record and has come a long way from the disappointments of a pair of 5-7 campaigns in 2019 and 2021 as well as an ugly 1-10 showing in 2020.
Syracuse fans haven’t seen a football team this good since 1987. In that year, SU finished the regular season slate a perfect 11-0 before tying Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. At this moment in 2021, the Orange have certainly exceeded expectations. Most oddsmakers and pundits didn’t foresee the level of success we’re right in the middle of with Dino Babers and Company. So what should Orange Nation expect now? How much higher can this team fly?
The short answer to that question is as high as it wants. Sans this trip to Clemson, Syracuse could be favored in every game it plays down the stretch. Here’s how the ESPN FPI looks as of this morning:
at Clemson – 16.8% chance of winning
Notre Dame – 56% chance of winning
at Pitt – 51.7% chance of winning
Florida State – 60.8% chance of winning
at Wake Forest – 42.7% chance of winning
at Boston College – 83.1% chance of winning
If we’re going by the FPI, Syracuse finishes the 2022 season with a 10-2 record. The losses project to come at the hands of Clemson this weekend and then Wake Forest later in November. Both of those squads own ranked recognition inside the AP Top 25 Poll and probably the College Football Playoff Poll when it comes out in a few weeks.
Obviously, the FPI is just a metric so take it with a grain of salt. However, why is a 10-2 record out of the equation? Why is an 11-1 record out of the equation. Well they are not but it’s going to be an uphill battle when you consider Dino Babers and his track record once the calendar flips into November.
* DINO BABERS IS 5-17 IN NOVEMBER AT SYRACUSE
* SU’S AVERAGE SCORING MARGIN IS -14 SINCE 2016
Those numbers are daunting and in what has been such an excellent year it’s hard to still press on Babers. However, the proof is in the pudding folks. Minus the 2018 season when the ‘Cuse was 3-1 in November, the Orange have really struggled down the closing stretch of the season.
Last year should still be fresh in your memory. SU ended October with a 5-4 record coming off a huge win over Boston College. Syracuse needed just one more victory to earn a bowl berth but it didn’t finish. The Orange struck out with three straight swings and misses.
Now of course SU has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but the expectations are different now. Why would you come this far to only come this far? Syracuse has five (maybe six) winnable games still on its slate. It would be the most Orange thing ever to start 6-0, get inside the Top-15 and then slide to a 6-6 completion on a six game losing skid.
What’s the new expectation for this team? Look the back half is a gauntlet. While there are favorable matchups it’s going to be hard to get up and go full tilt every single week without a break. You also have to consider the injuries issues the ‘Cuse has dealt with. At some point, the dam has to break and the answers won’t always come.
A fair expectation is for Syracuse to win three of its final six games. The most likely W’s are Notre Dame, Florida State, and Boston College. Let’s see if Babers can flip the November script with four opportunities to showcase the improvements in the eleventh month of the year.