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.
- Monday: 4-8 (Matt McClusky)
- Tuesday: 5-7 (Jared Smith)
- Wednesday: 6-6 (Sean Farrell)
- Thursday: 7-5 (John Cassillo)
- Friday: 8-4 (Sean Keeley)
I won't even bother assembling the collection of critics who have told us all how/why (or mostly failed to, actually) Syracuse won't be making a bowl. Instead, teams like Maryland, NC State, Pittsburgh and more are all fully capable of winning seven or eight games, while that terrible Syracuse program from 2005-2008 manages to replace the current roster and subsequently win just two or three games. Time travel's pretty fun, and apparently
Greg Gerg Robinson is an expert at it.
But really, take a look at our schedule (we'll also dive into it below). I count three guaranteed losses, with several guaranteed wins and a lot of toss-ups mixed in. Of course the Orange aren't going to win (or lose!) all of the toss-ups. That's not how these things work. There's also a good chance I'm dead-wrong about those "guaranteed" results, too. As you'll recall, SU does a nice job of playing up and down to their competition, respectively, which is probably why we can always talk ourselves into five different win scenarios prior to a season starting. At least since the turn of the century, it's become a disturbing norm.
All of this is of course the roundabout way of figuring out how we arrive at seven wins. With one of the best backfields and linebacker corps in the conference, plus an offense that no one seems to know anything about just yet, we stand a good chance of taking people by surprise. And if the media keeps telling people we're a 4-8 team, opponents will start preparing for a 4-8 team... and that's how you arrive at a 29-26 upset of Clemson at the Dome this October. I'm kidding. Sort of.
The Week-by-Week Breakdown
Penn State Nittany Lions: Syracuse is an enigma, while Penn State gets by on the grittiness of their "run-ons" and the confidence that no matter what they do, ESPN will feature them on a television special. The Orange are being severely underestimated and as long as the offensive line holds up, the offense should move at a brisk enough pace to pull out a victory. W (1-0) (0-0)
at Northwestern Wildcats: You all remember what happened last year. Northwestern returns all of those players that burned us, while we only bring back half of ours. It's also on the road and the Wildcats are a top 25 team. I think we'll all be happy with a 1-1 start, no? L (1-1) (0-0)
Wagner Seahawks: Can we please make this an uneventful game? Begging for it. W (2-1) (0-0)
Tulane Green Wave: Tulane also features experience at quarterback, and can't stop opposing teams from scoring (allowed over 38 points per game last year). Tack another one on the board! W (3-1) (0-0)
Clemson Tigers: The Tigers are likely to be a top five team (if not higher) and will be coming up to the Dome for the first time. Head Coach Dabo Swinney doesn't even know where the city of Syracuse is, so who knows if the team will even be able to arrive on time. Still, as much as we'd like to see this year's signature upset be Clemson, they're far too talented this season. L (3-2) (0-1)
at NC State Wolfpack: NC State replaces their quarterback and head coach, plus their entire secondary. And everyone believes they'll finish 7-5 or 8-4 just the same. An Orange win down in Raleigh would do an awful lot to change that, and honestly, there's no reason why they can't pull a road win against an evenly matched team this early in the year. W (4-2) (1-1)
at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Syracuse's first experience with the triple option doesn't figure to go well. Plus, this team is bound to lose one of the two consecutive road games "down South." With the kitschy offense the Wreck run, this sure seems like the best bet for a defeat. L (4-3) (1-2)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Wake brings back experience at every offensive skill position, and while last year's defense wasn't phenomenal, they have a nice chance to rebound if everyone can stay healthy. Deacs fans claim they're not bitter about what happened on their last trip to SU, but I bet QB Tanner Price remembers plenty. L (4-4) (1-3)
at Maryland Terrapins: Another middling ACC team that has been criminally overrated by the media this year. The Terps have to replace a lot of pieces on defense, and feature no running game at all. I'll also be present at this one, and feel like the Orange will be taking that into consideration. So thanks in advance, guys! W (5-4) (2-3)
at Florida State Seminoles: Florida State's defense is none too kind to SU, and our first trip down to Doak Campbell Stadium goes about as terribly as you'd think it would against a top-10 'Noles squad. L (5-5) (2-4)
Pittsburgh Panthers: Pitt's another team replacing an awful lot -- new quarterback and running back, while the O-line has its own group of questions as well. Things are likely to stay as close as they were last year, with the Syracuse defense providing the late push to bowl eligibility. W (6-5) (3-4)
Boston College Eagles: With BC already dead and buried on the season, this rivalry doesn't have the luster some thought it would the first time back at it. But just the same, the two teams battle it out just like old times. The Eagles spend too much time worrying about how to #BeADude and not enough time being #hardnosed, and the end result is a loss for them. W (7-5) (4-4)
So revisiting our original point -- there's only three games to truly feel intimidated by -- that's still true, no? You could talk me into nine wins here, but that would require everything to go right, and we know that will not happen. You could talk me into four if everything goes wrong, too. But that's just as unlikely. Given the five-team logjam in the Atlantic after Clemson and Florida State, there really are a ton of toss-ups on the slate (I count seven). Admittedly, I have us going 5-2 in those contests, but that was the point of this article; showing how we can very conceivably get to seven victories for the second straight season. I know it's not tough to sell the SU faithful on that fact, though I am curious to see where other fan bases (should they join us in the comments) find holes in our logic.
Agree, disagree, or have any other thoughts? Share'em below.