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’m going to let you in on a little secret.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is not as great as you may think it is. Yes, that’s right. I said it. It’s certainly an upgrade over the Big East...or whatever is left. But Syracuse’s transition this season won’t be drastic. Here’s why:
In July 2010, Phil Steele compiled data about football conferences in terms of bowl success during the previous decade. The ACC finished around the middle of the pack. The conference bowl record from 2000 to 2009 was 35-36, just under .500. And the stats don’t look any more favorably when Steele removes the 11 bowl games in which ACC teams faced a non-BCS opponent. In these remaining games between an ACC team and a BCS team, the Atlantic Coast Conference went 28-32. To top it off, in BCS bowls games, the ACC went…1-9 (!)
Let me take a step back to say that this isn’t some sort of ACC hit piece. Bowl wins aren’t the best barometer of the balance of power among college football conferences. (After all, the SEC had a lower bowl winning percentage in that span than the Big East.)
It’s just a reminder that SU is not playing in the SEC and people shouldn’t be treating the realignment as such. In all fairness, the ACC went 4-2 in bowls last season including a 31-10 Orange Bowl win by Florida State over Northern Illinois.
With all this in mind, I believe Syracuse will finish 6-6 this season.
- Penn State-The storyline coming in will be about the QB battle (for Penn State as well), but the actual game will be centered on the running game. Both teams don’t have the chance to feel out their offense with an easy first opponent. Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley will provide support for Drew Allen (yes, Drew Allen), but Penn State wins an ugly game in Jersey. L
- @Northwestern-Remember Venric Mark? Well if you don’t, he rushed for 84 yards on just 14 carries and had an 82-yard punt return against Syracuse last year. He is back, as well as dual threat QB Kain Colter. L
- Wagner-Ahem…moving on. W
- Tulane-The Green Wave lost to Syracuse 37-34 two seasons ago, but don’t expect another nail biter this season. W
- Clemson-Tajh Boyd threw for almost 300 yards per game and had 36 touchdowns last season. And that is not even accounting for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. L
- @NC State-The Wolfpack was 5-1 at home last year including a 17-16 win over then-No. 3 Florida State. NC State wins by a touchdown. L
- @Georgia Tech-This strikes me as the game Syracuse might look back to if the Orange don’t make a bowl. The triple-option confuses the Orange and the Yellow Jackets steal a win. L
- Wake Forest-Dome Sweet Dome. Coming off a three game losing streak and a bye, the Orange gets back on track. W
- @Maryland-The Terps have six wins in the last two seasons combined. Six! W
- @Florida State-The central New York team is victorious, in spite of the play of a Seminole quarterback. Unfortunately…it’s E.J. Manuel and the Bills, who face the Jets that Sunday. SU falls to 4-6. L
- Pittsburgh-Unlike in 2011, Syracuse defeats the Panthers to keep postseason hopes alive. W
- Boston College-The Eagles have six wins in the last two seasons combined. Six! W
Syracuse made a bowl game despite starting 0-2 last season and I see that trend continuing again. Despite losing several offensive weapons, first round pick OL Justin Pugh and some guy named Ryan Nassib, the Orange will score enough to stay around in most games.
Yes, Clemson and Florida will dominate league play, but the Big East also usually had two solid top dogs (Hi, West Virginia and Cincinnati). I would be surprised if SU won less than five games or more than seven. The Orange will probably have one disappointing game (a la 2012 vs. Minnesota) when everything goes wrong. But Syracuse might beat one team you wouldn’t expect (2012 Louisville, 2011 WVU).
Setting aside the weeks when Syracuse plays Northwestern, Clemson and Florida State, the Orange has a very viable shot to win every game. That’s NINE games. How well Drew Allen can fill in for Nassib will determine how many of those turn into wins.