Syracuse Football: Why the Orange Will Go...7-5

NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 30: Alec Lemon #15 of the Syracuse Orange is tackled by Emmanuel Lamur #23 of the Kansas State Wildcats during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30 2010 in New York New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Ed. Note - This week, the TNIAAM writers are taking a stab at telling you why this football team will finish with a specific record. Some are out of the norm, some are right in the norm's wheelhouse. We can't truly predict what's going to happen but we can at least try to cover our bases and understand how each record will be possible.

Hey, remember those days before HCDM took Syracuse to the pinnacle of success, the Pinstripe Bowl? Under his predecessor, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, we would've killed for a 5-7 season like we had last year. I mean, that one at least included a Big East win (so few and far between from '05-'08). But now, we're obviously on to bigger and better things. Like winning records. And despite most of the major news outlets holding the opinion we won't even be bowl eligible this year, I've got some news for them: We'll be one game BETTER than the minimum bowl eligibility requirement of six wins. Curious as to how this is possible with such a grueling stretch ahead of us? Follow me below the jump!

Any assessment of this year most of course start with the obvious wins and losses, so we can then evaluate the swing games -- and we have a fair amount of those (contrary to popular belief). Right off the bat, let's chalk USC and Missouri up as defeats, because Number-One-Team-in-the-Country and SEC. In the wins column, let's include Stony Brook (despite their horrifyingly effective running game), Temple and that team we always beat in 6OT basketball games. The logic in these wins: "please, God, don't lose to a FCS team," this video and since we haven't beaten the Huskies in football since my freshman year at SU, we must be due.

Now as for the rest, what are our strengths? A veteran quarterback who, in his third year as a starter, likely knows his offense better than most QBs in the nation. We've got an actual size advantage over most teams for the first time in a long time. And I'd like to think that we're set at our linebacker positions, too, to help make up for shortcomings on the line and in the secondary. Weaknesses include the aforementioned defensive issues, horrendous special teams play and a suspect running game. Using this information, let's take a look at our remaining opponents:

Northwestern: Their starting quarterback can run (negative), but they can't apply pressure to Ryan Nassib, even in Justin Pugh's absence. Advantage: Syracuse (W)

at Minnesota: No offense or defense to speak of (double positive), and have been rebuilding for twice as long as us, somehow. Advantage: Syracuse (W)

Pittsburgh: Three stud running backs (major negative), can pressure quarterback (negative). Advantage: Pitt (L)

at Rutgers: Lost best receiver (positive), has no running game to speak of (positive), one of better defenses in the country (negative), lost their program-building sorcerer-coach over the offseason (positive). Advantage: Syracuse (W)

at USF: Their QB is probably one of better dual-threats in the country (big negative), plus they can pressure the quarterback (negative). Advantage: USF (L)

at Cincinnati: Employs super-mobile QB Munchie Legaux (best name ever?) to run their offense (negative), consistently great on defense (negative). Advantage: Cincinnati (L)

Louisville: QB is traditional pocket-passer (positive), starting receiver is injured (positive), aggressive and pressuring defense (double-negative). Tiebreaker: Preseason league favorite walks into Dome surrounded by hype (positive. Hello, WVU!) Advantage: Syracuse (W)

Count'em up. There's seven victories, including four league wins. And as we've pointed out before, no one on the Big East schedule is all that imposing. For the most part, any of these Ws and Ls could be switched with each other due to the minute differences in the league's programs. So it's pretty much about luck. Look over last year, and you'll see a string of good luck, which peaked with a once-in-a-lifetime world-beating of the Mountaineers on national television. Then, you'll see a string of horrible luck, accentuated by bad tackling, no running game and a general lack of desire. The seven wins are there. We just need a couple bounces our way, and the Doug Marrone bandwagon gets right back on track.

John Cassillo authors Atlantic Coast Convos, which chronicles every aspect of ACC (plus Syracuse & Pittsburgh) football. Check out the blog, and follow him on Twitter: @JohnCassillo

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