As the time draws near for the 2014 Syracuse Orange football season, we're starting to get a sense of expectations. Not only for the Orange but also for their opponents. The preseason polls and conference predictions are trickling in so let's find out what everyone thinks of the 12 teams we'll be lining up against in 2014.
Villanova Wildcats (Aug. 29)
The Cats appear to be pretty decent as they've been picked to finish 2nd in the CAA by the coaches and SIDs. They received two first-place votes, though New Hampshire looks to be the league favorite. One thing to note, Villanova QB John Robertson was named CAA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. We've been warned.
Central Michigan Chippewas (Sept. 13)
The Chippewas were picked to finish fourth in the MAC West Division by the media, though curiously they also received two first-place votes. Apparently there are some CMU homers out there trying to drive up their stock. SB Nation's Hustle Belt blog also has the Chips in 4th in the West. And a poll made up on MAC blogs put CMU in 4th in the division as well. We're noticing a trend.
Maryland Terrapins (Sept. 20)
The Terps enter their first season in the Big Ten exactly where you might expect them to, near the bottom when it comes to expectations. The Big Ten Media Poll says Maryland will finish fifth in the East Division, behind Penn State. Could be worse, they could have been picked to finish dead last like Rutgers. As in, lower than Indiana. Good luck with all that, Rutgers (and Maryland, really).
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Sept. 27)
Obviously there's no conference poll for the Irish, they're still too cool for that. Looking around the way-too-early preseason polls, they come in anywhere from No. 13 to No. 19. It's hard to tell if they're going to be legit or if it's just a case of courtesy ranking. In ESPN's Preseason Football Power Index, whatever that is, they come in all the way down at No. 29. I'll go with that one (We're No. 55 in case you were wondering).
Louisville Cardinals (Oct. 3)
The Cardinals are the third-best team in the ACC Atlantic Division. How do I know this? Cause, uh, that's what everyone says. In a classic case of "let's just go with what they looked like last year," everyone has penciled in the Cardinals as "The Best Team in the ACC Not Called FSU or Clemson" without checking to see if their All-World QB is still on the roster. Not that Louisville won't be good, but, if any double-digit win team is due for a 7-5 follow-up stinker, it's them.
Florida State Seminoles (Oct. 11)
It goes without saying the Seminoles are considered the No. 1 team in the ACC. They're also considered a solid bet to play for the National Championship once again, or at least qualify for the new four-team playoff.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Oct. 18)
Poor Wake. They're considered the worst team in the Atlantic Division and they received the least amount of votes of any team in the media poll. Vegas isn't all that kind to them either. By all accounts, Wake will be lucky to eek out a couple wins. Let's just try not to be one of them.
Clemson Tigers (Oct. 25)
Clemson came into last season the clear favorite to win the ACC and, well, they didn't. So maybe it works in their favor that they're the clear No. 2 in the Atlantic Division this year. The national polls put them in the No. 17 - 23 range and Vegas puts them more on par with Louisville than FSU. It sounds like a slide down but maybe the lack of expectations is what Clemson needs.
N.C. State Wolfpack (Nov. 1)
The Pack was picked to finish fifth in the ACC Atlantic this season, coming in behind the Orange but ahead of BC. They're getting 40/1 odds to win the Atlantic, which is slightly more than Syracuse. In closing, everyone seems to think Syracuse is slightly better than NC State. Fair enough.
Duke Blue Devils (Nov. 8)
The Blue Devils might not have the talent to compete with FSU or Clemson but they've got a schedule that would rival Middlesex Community College. Hence, they received more first-place votes than anyone for the ACC Coastal Division. They still came in 2nd overall behind Miami, showing that people either really buy-in to the Devils or really do not.
Pittsburgh Panthers (Nov. 22)
Things aren't looking up for our old runnin' buddies. They've been picked to finish a distant sixth in the Coastal Division. Still, they get better odds to win the division than we do given the lack of a "defending national champion" type hanging out there.
Boston College Eagles (Nov. 29)
The Eagles also find themselves in the sixth spot in preseason division polls, ahead of only Wake Forest in the Atlantic. The Dudes somehow get the same odds to win the division as we do (33/1) despite the fact that they're 200/1 to win the ACC Championship. Go figure. And if there were an NCAA '15, they'd inexplicably have a better rating than us, too. You just know it...