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ESPN Thinks Syracuse Sucks A Little Less Than Last Year

Is it time for college football previews already? Really? Well if ESPN says so, I guess we have no choice in the matter, do we?

Joe Starkey published his
Big East preview on the Worldwide Leader a few days ago and for Orange fans the news is not-as-horrible-as-you'd-expect. While most of the chatter is reserved for the Big Three (West Virginia, Louisville and, I don't believe I'm saying this, Rutgers) and those scrappy Bulls from South Florida, the Orange do make the casual readers take notice for their non-basement-dwelling expectations.

His prediction for the conference:

1. Louisville

2. Rutgers

3. West Virginia

4. USF

5. Pittsburgh

6. Syracuse
7. Cincinnati
8. Connecticut

Now here's where it gets tricky. Syracuse has the toughest schedule in the conference and one of the tougher in the country.

While the rest of the conference opens against the likes of Buffalo, Elon, Eastern Michigan, Murray State and Southeast Missouri State, Syracuse opens against a Pac-10 school (Washington) and follows with two Big Ten teams (at Iowa, vs. Illinois). The Orange then begin conference play at Louisville, and, after a visit to Miami (Ohio), play host to West Virginia and Rutgers. That's no way to revive a program.

The Orange do get some love however in the Comeback Player of the Year Category.

Taj Smith, wide receiver, Syracuse. A fractured clavicle ruined Smith's 2006 season in the fourth game. The junior college transfer already had established himself as a big-play guy, with 227 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Expect Smith to return to top form.

But the most glaring statement of the preview is also its most obvious.

Coach on the hot seat: Greg Robinson, Syracuse. After consecutive last-place finishes and a conference record of 1-13 in his first two years, Robinson needs to find a way to avoid the cellar this time around.