Remember when Syracuse, at home, was a heavy underdog to West Virginia in 2011?
Jump to last season: remember when Syracuse was a big dog to Louisville at the Dome?
Sure the experts in Vegas are very good at what they do. Either closely predicting the outcome of a game, or at least getting enough action on one side or the other to allow for a big profit -- regardless of the outcome. But odds are the odds aren't always right. Proven by the Orange over the last few seasons; anyone remember the run of so-called upsets in 2010?
So it is the Syracuse fan that should have a fairly level head when it comes to hearing what Vegas thinks of their team's chances for some of the games for the upcoming season:
Saturday, August 31, 2013:
Penn St. -6.5
@ Syracuse (New Meadowlands)
Saturday, September 7, 2013:
@ Northwestern -13
OK, I'm going to stop you right there. Northwestern is a two touchdown favorite? The Penn State game line seems a little high, but -13 for the Wildcats? I get that Northwestern won a bowl game last season and is returning 15 starters from 2013 -- including starting quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venric Mark. Not to mention the fact that the Wildcats beat Syracuse in the Dome last season (actually, Northwestern is 2-1 against SU since 2008).
Maybe that line is pretty accurate now that I actually walk myself through it. I mean, Pat Fitzgerald's team was 5-3 in the Big Ten last season, with some close losses keeping it from 8-0 in league. Plus, as we all know too well, Syracuse is replacing key starters on both sides of the ball and its head coach (along with most of the coaching staff).
Actually, maybe seeing the early lines, as meaningless as they can be, is a good thing for the Orange fan. Everyone knows what the program has lost since we last saw Syracuse in a real live game. But doesn't it feel like the team that thumped West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl, that closed out the season 6 - 1, is the one we'll see hit the field in New Jersey in a couple of months? All of the "rebuilding" is done, the stench of Greg Robinson, and for that matter Paul Pasqualoni, has been scrubbed clean, and now the real fun should start.
But the reality of it all is: Syracuse, at the very least, is starting over with familiar faces in new places and new faces in familiar places. Its handing the keys to the offense to a new quarterback, whoever it turns out to be, and its looking for new stars to emerge on defense. And while all of those changes may not be as difficult to make as it sounds, it's certainly going to take time for the transition.
Which means Syracuse very well could lose at Northwestern by double digits. It may lost to a shell-of-its-former-self Penn State team by a touchdown on a "neutral" field. I guess seeing the early worthless lines is a little bit of a refresher in how college football actually works.
Saturday, October 5, 2013:
Wha?! Preseason top 12 Clemson is only an 8 point favorite? See, Vegas doesn't always know what its talking about.
Well, the Mountaineers and Cardinals were in the same boat and both were beaten, soundly, by Syracuse in the Dome. So maybe it's more like Vegas is figuring out that the Dome can be a good place for a highly ranked team's season to die?
In fact, lose to Northwestern, beat a top tier team at the Dome. Given the last couple of years, I guess Vegas is expecting something of the same ol' same ol' for the Orange.
But even if it's better than expected or worse than expected, the best part about early season lines? They mean we are getting closer to 2013 kicking off!