Syracuse football faces one of the toughest schedules in college football. Orange faces five ranked opponents, including two in the top five and three in the top 15. Three of the five ranked opponents are away from home. How does Syracuse navigate the schedule to get to six wins and a bowl spot?
1. Win the games you should
Syracuse has to beat Wagner and UConn. Period. Both are teams that should be inferior to Syracuse. If you can’t win both games, you’re not going to bowl.
2. Win “Toss-Up” games
There are several games on the schedule that will be seen as “release” types that could go either way. They include Louisville, Purdue, Virginia, Florida State, and Boston College. Obviously, if Syracuse wins four of those five, after winning the games at number one above, that’s six games and bowl eligibility. If not, one or two surprises will be necessary. The good news for the Oranges is that all four are home.
3. Pull off a surprise
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If Syracuse doesn’t win at least four of the draw games, it will take upsets to make up for that. Syracuse has NC State and Notre Dame at home, but both will be heavily favored. The Wolfpack blew up Syracuse last season, while the Irish did it two years ago. However, Orange was the visiting team in both matches. In addition, Syracuse will have opportunities at Clemson, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. If Syracuse is 3-2 in the draft games, it will be necessary to beat one from NC State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Pittsburgh or Wake Forest to be eligible for the bowl. If Syracuse is 2-3 in draw games, Orange will need to win two of the “uncomfortable” games.
4. Survive the gauntlet stretch
One problem in recent seasons has been Syracuse wearing down as the year progressed. Syracuse lost its last three games after starting 5-4 a year ago, in part due to injuries and a lack of depth. This year’s squad is deeper, which will help, but Orange have to stay healthy to navigate this schedule. Especially the mid-season challenge with four consecutive ranked opponents. From October 15 to November 5, Syracuse takes on #13 NC State, #4 Clemson, #5 Notre Dame and #17 Pittsburgh. That is a difficult task to say the least.
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