Syracuse Football: Orange Play 35th-Toughest Remaining Schedule in FBS

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

We're pretty hopeful about the second half of the year for Syracuse. Do the numbers indicate we shouldn't be?

For those who might have missed it, Football Study Hall took a look at the remaining schedules for every team in the FBS yesterday, comparing them the first portion of the schedule. Syracuse is an FBS team, so naturally, the Orange were included in said list. Annnnd...

Syracuse has the 35th-Toughest Remaining Schedule in the Country.

Since we've all been at least semi-positive about the remaining slate, this has to be disconcerting news. I mean, we've already played Clemson. That should have helped us out, right?

The SOS numbers are based on Football Outsiders' FEI ratings, and here's how (#90 overall) Syracuse's first seven opponents looked:

#22 Georgia Tech

#42 Clemson

#60 Northwestern

#69 Tulane

#78 Penn State

#94 NC State

NR Wagner

For starters, Clemson wasn't even the toughest team we've faced thus far; that would be Georgia Tech, the team that beat us by 56. The schedule's also hurt by NC State's terrible numbers and the fact that Wagner (like any FCS team) weighs the first-half down significantly. Syracuse's overall SOS for the first seven games was 89th in the country, which makes the 3-4 record sound a lot less ideal than before. For the final five games, our opponents look like this:

#4 Florida State

#50 Pittsburgh

#76 Wake Forest

#77 Boston College

#91 Maryland

Those five games make for the 35th-toughest schedule in the country, and SU's margin between opening schedule and closing schedule (-54) is the 12th-largest gap in the entire FBS. Granted, the last five games are largely inflated by #4 Florida State, so take that with a grain of salt. But at the same time, if we're looking at these numbers literally, the only team we should be favored to beat for the remainder of the year is Maryland. Obviously, we don't see a ton of space between Pitt and ourselves, even if these numbers do. And the difference between Wake, BC and Syracuse is miniscule. So while these numbers are worth looking at, over a five-game stretch, one very good team can skew everything (as we very clearly see).

***

Even if we're totally buying into these numbers, how does Syracuse's schedule look in comparison to our ACC brethren? A view of all 14 teams, with notes on previous SOS, upcoming SOS and the differential:

Rank Team SOS Previous SOS Future Differential
1 Miami 98 5 -93
2 Syracuse 89 35 -54
3 Florida State 103 51 -52
4 Clemson 69 37 -32
5 Wake Forest 65 41 -24
6 NC State 54 54 -3
7 Pittsburgh 32 30 -2
8 Maryland 55 55 0
9 Virginia 22 26 +4
10 Duke 58 64 +6
11 Boston College 42 74 +32
12 Virginia Tech 11 45 +34
13 Georgia Tech 10 60 +50
14 North Carolina 13 75 +62

As you can see, the differential's actually a bit misguiding, no matter how tough or easy the schedule is/was. BUT, Syracuse did have the third-easiest schedule in the conference through seven games (again, skewed by Wagner, but everyone else also had an FCS team too for the most part). In terms of future schedules, the Orange have the fourth-toughest going forward. While things may look a bit difficult for SU, I think we can all take solace in not being Virginia, though. That +4 means nothing since it's just the slight difference between two very difficult schedules.

***

What do you think? Cause for alarm, or just the product of still having to play a very strong Florida State team? Any concern that our main competition for the rest of the year (BC, Wake, Maryland) all have easier schedules? Pontificate away in the comments.

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