In response to Bill Connelly's excellent 2014 Syracuse season preview, an intriguing question was posed:
Agreed, Bud. What if Syracuse was in the ACC's Coastal division?
Unfortunately, we can't really measure the long-term ramifications yet, but in the short-term, you can see the intriguing possibilities. While we trade away assured losses to Florida State and Clemson, unfortunately, we also have to give up on some "easier" games against squads like Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College and (only last year) Maryland. But again, does that necessarily mean we'll be "worse" off?
Some quick rules before we embark on this hypothetical situation:
- It's a simple switch, Pittsburgh-for-Syracuse.
- We simply carry over all redundant results from the real 2013 (so that means the Georgia Tech loss stands).
- Our permanent crossover rivals are now Boston College (so carry that win over), and our flex crossover is Wake Forest (so that win also stays).
Unlike previous "What If" scenarios around here, we're going to be a bit more scientific about all of this. Each matchup will be simulated 10 times and the average will be the result we go with. Again, keep in mind Syracuse will start out 2-1 in ACC play with the carryover results, plus 2-2 in non-conference play.
Duke 28, Syracuse 17
Syracuse only wins three out of 10 simulated matchups, and in several of the losses they suffer, things are downright ugly. Unfortunately, that's one loss on the books.
Syracuse 26, Virginia 19
Syracuse takes seven out of 10 here, and fails to lose any by more than a touchdown. We're all well aware that UVa was bad, and this type of domination pretty much seals the deal. While it was great to face a few mediocre teams in the Atlantic Division, it's also nice to face one simply putrid squad like the Hoos.
Virginia Tech 23, Syracuse 13
I was pretty bummed simulating this. SU started off well, and then... things took a very serious turn south. But I suppose the Hokies' defense took over and things kind of fell apart from there. This was not unexpected.
North Carolina 31, Syracuse 22
UNC had a rough start to last season, but they worked all of that out eventually. It seems that they same went route here, starting slow against Syracuse before finishing very strong and eventually putting away any potential disputes related to margin of victory. So, yeah. Not the best situation for a Syracuse team that would hypothetically be 5-6 entering a season-ending game against Miami.
Miami 30, Syracuse 25
Despite splitting the 10 games we simulated, Syracuse falls to Miami (and a Miami team without Duke Johnson, due to injury) by way of a couple blowout wins for the 'Canes. It's a bummer, but the 5-7 (3-5) result is likely in line with what everyone expected and provides an ability to build without possibly unreal expectations in 2014.
If it makes you feel better, Pitt also misses a bowl in this switch (5-7; 2-6). But yeah, not exactly the best or worst thing for Syracuse here. As we said, short-term gives us a negative outcome -- but honestly, not by much. Long-term, the Orange appear primed to contend by way of an underwhelming team still remaining pretty competitive in this simulation.
Thoughts? Still think SU might be better off in the opposite division? Or are we okay with the Atlantic as long as it exists (which may only be for another year or so). Share your thoughts below.