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Syracuse Football: How Have Previous Orange Teams Turned Around 3-5 Starts?

So, how is this movie going to turn out?

Streeter Lecka

Obviously past returns don't indicate future results. That's not the case for anything, but it goes double for college football, where players move in and out of programs too quickly to really bank on previous trends for too long. Still, with the Syracuse football team sitting at 3-5, with the season hanging in the balance each and every Saturday going forward, why not look back at some history for SU? The Orange have started 3-5 before -- though not all that often. How did those years turn out?


2009 (4-8)

Wins: Northwestern, Maine, Akron

Losses: Minnesota, #7 Penn State, USF, West Virginia, #5 Cincinnati

Syracuse would start the program's turnaround under Doug Marrone in 2009, but it simply couldn't find its way to six wins, especially after a very slow start. But the games they lost, they probably should have. And the same goes for the wins, which came in as most thought they would. This group WAS a couple close calls (Minnesota, Louisville) from a bowl game, though, which shouldn't get lost in the retelling and may remind you of the product currently on the field for SU as well.

2006 (4-8)

Wins: Illinois, Miami (OH), Wyoming

Losses: Wake Forest, #14 iowa, Pittsburgh, #5 West Virginia, #6 Louisville

Somehow, this GERG team wasn't ALL bad, as crazy as that might sound just a year out from a 1-10 bottoming out. The start was bad, sure, but it also featured tough losses to the eventual ACC champ in Wake, that brutal Iowa loss and two losses to then top-10 teams. I mean... was this team going anything BUT 3-5 in these first eight games? They couldn't rally back to bowl eligibility, sadly, and this would be the high-water mark for those very dark four years on campus.

1986 (5-6)

Wins: Missouri, Temple, Pittsburgh

Losses: Mississippi State, Army, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, #6 Penn State

Back when a rebuilding Syracuse team played a completely loaded schedule -- maybe even more so than the complaint-worthy sets of today -- 3-5 wasn't entirely surprising. The Orange were also doing this thing called winning a lot from 1987 through 2004, so it's understandable why we had to trace back 20 years to find this. The '86 Orange would get themselves three wins in the final five games, but a loss to rival BC doomed them to a sub-.500 record. Like 2009, though, this was a precursor to a very positive year. Keep that in mind.

1983 (6-5)

Wins: Kent State, Northwestern, Rutgers

Losses: Temple, #1 Nebraska, #16 Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh

Syracuse faced four teams that were ranked going into their matchup, and the two you see above were the losses. The Orange would turn things around in the second half of the year, with back-to-back wins over then-#13 Boston College and #14 West Virginia, respectively to close the campaign and get above .500. There weren't 40 bowls back then, so 6-5 didn't earn you much. But for our reference in terms of making it to six wins, it'll do.

1977 (6-5)

Wins: Washington, Illinois, Virginia

Losses: Oregon State, NC State, Maryland, #10 Penn State, #14 Pittsburgh

Plenty of familiar faces on the schedule above, including one opponent we've already lost to (Maryland) and two more Syracuse has still yet to face. The Orange can't drop games to both Pitt and NC State this season and still make a bowl game, but just know there's a precedent for losing to one of them and still grabbing six wins. This team would win their final three contests in pretty impressive fashion... we should try and replicate this season in that regard.


Like I said: Nothing much to be gleaned from this in terms of actual results for this year's 3-5 Syracuse Orange. SU hasn't started 3-5 much lately (y'know, because of success and all at one point), but the seasons that have begun that way seem to have a 40-percent shot at giving us a bowl eligible squad. Sure, those teams may not have had a true freshman starting QB. But the tough schedule, bevy of ranked teams to compete with and the Boston College mucking up the end are all there. So why not get to six wins this time around, right? Probability be damned!