The second half of Syracuse’s schedule features games that are either on the road or played in Dino Babers’ least favorite month of November. Last year, the Orange went a mere 1-5 over the final six regular season games before stumbling to Minnesota in the Pinstripe Bowl. So what does the back half have in store this season?
OCTOBER 14- AT FLORIDA STATE
Perhaps the best team the Orange will face this season. The Seminoles are going to be really good. Potential College Football Playoff contender good. Jordan Travis is among the most dynamic quarterbacks Syracuse will get a look at- he demonstrated that in the Dome last year with a completion percentage over 90% and a touchdown run. That helped propel FSU to a 38-3 demolition of SU. Mike Norvell has Florida State trending way up, so winning on the road will be a tall task.
OCTOBER 26- AT VIRGINIA TECH
The first of two consecutive primetime games, and the last matchup between the Orange and Hokies justifies its status as such. SU rallied from a late deficit as Garrett Shrader found Damien Alford for a 45-yard score with well under a minute to play in a 41-36 thriller. VT stumbled to a 3-8 record in 2022, but despite those struggles winning at Lane Stadium again will be no easy task. Hokies fans are as rabid as any (Enter Sandman, anyone?). This is one of the games Syracuse may have to win if it wants to make a bowl game.
NOVEMBER 3- BOSTON COLLEGE
This one should be spicy. We won’t soon forget the crazy showdown in the regular season finale between the Orange and Eagles last November. A very sudden SU rally was overshadowed by Enrique Cruz’s ejection and a scuffle postgame after the visitors tried to plant a flag multiple times (unsuccessfully) at Alumni Stadium. BC took a major step back to 3-9 last season after six straight years of bowl eligibility. It should still be a fiery clash at the Dome this year.
NOVEMBER 11- PITTSBURGH
Start spreading the news! Syracuse gave up a seventh home game to honor the 100th anniversary of the first football game ever played at Yankee Stadium. It’s a shame that the Orange played the Panthers in that contest a century ago because today you couldn’t ask for a worse opponent to play down the stretch. Pitt owns SU. There’s no way around it. The Orange haven’t found a victory in this matchup since 2017, and haven’t beaten the Panthers away from home since 2001. This week on the calendar has corresponded with two big blowouts the last two years, let’s hope that’s not the case this year.
NOVEMBER 18- AT GEORGIA TECH
It’ll have been over 10 years in between visits to Atlanta for Syracuse. On that fateful 2013 day, the Yellow Jackets stung the Orange 56-0. More recently, Georgia Tech’s five wins in 2022 were a step in the right direction after back-to-back three-win campaigns (one of which included a loss to SU in 2020, the only game it won that season). New Head Coach Brent Key seeks to get Georgia Tech back to a bowl game this year, so don’t be surprised if this one has big stakes for both teams involved.
NOVEMBER 25- WAKE FOREST
The engineer behind the Demon Deacons’ lethal offense over the past few seasons is gone. Quarterback Sam Hartman, who has been arguably the ACC’s best, transferred to Notre Dame this offseason. That’s great news for an Orange defense that has given up a combined 85 points in their last two meetings with Wake Forest. That being said, Dave Clawson has emerged as one of the best coaches in the ACC. Imagine SU sitting at 5-6- very possible- needing a win over the Demon Deacons to qualify for a bowl game. Nerve-racking, isn’t it?
With this as well as the front half, there you have what Syracuse is staring at for the 2023 season. A few super difficult games, a few really difficult games, and a few in between that will likely determine whether the Orange go bowling. With Babers’ job security on the line perhaps more than ever, it will be fascinating to see how it plays out.