Statistics say Syracuse football has had the best start of the season in the country. The Orange have scored 56.5 points per game, the third highest average in the FBS, and have allowed just 3.5 points per game, the lowest average in the FBS. SU is the only team to rank in the top five in both of those categories.
Given Syracuse’s scoring dominance, ESPN’s stat-heavy Football Power Index has ranked the Orange quite high. SU is the 18th-ranked team in this system, but more interestingly it’s the third-highest team in the ACC. Only Florida State and Miami rank higher according to the metric.
The ‘Cuse were also given a 4.6% chance to make the College Football Playoffs. That’s the 17th-highest chance in ESPN’s rankings. Making the CFP is something Syracuse fans have only dreamed of since the format was introduced a decade ago, but if ESPN is right, maybe there’s a chance that changes this season.
The FPI predicts that SU will win all but two of its remaining games: UNC and Florida State, both of which are on the road. That means that Syracuse is favored to beat teams like Clemson, Pitt, and Wake Forest.
Now, how realistic is this path forward for the Orange? Honestly, it depends. Syracuse has to prove itself against a Power Five team still, but just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. You can only beat who you play, and SU has plenty of chances to beat good opponents in the next few weeks.
It should be noted that the FPI isn’t a perfect system. It still has Alabama ranked first, despite recently losing to sixth-ranked Texas. Colorado, who’s 2-0 with a win over a ranked TCU squad, is ranked 58th.
Even if it isn’t a perfect system, Syracuse fans should feel optimistic that a metric has the Orange rated so highly.