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Syracuse Football 2014: Why The Orange Will Finish 6-6

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It's time to guess what Syracuse's record will be. Last year, I predicted the team's 6-6 regular season mark. Let's see if I can do it again.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

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.

There's a good reason I don't gamble very much. I lose.  Although I think I know what I'm doing, the house always holds the right odds. Now, why am I telling you this? Because even with the Syracuse Orange returning almost every starter, with a quarterback who should be improved and with a coaching staff starting to figure it all out, the experts in Las Vegas set the win total over/under at 5.5.

It sounds like a low estimate, but there is some truth behind it. There haven't been too many recent examples when SU won more than six games in the regular season. It's only happened three times in the past 15 seasons. And, in case you haven't heard it by now, the Orange has a tough schedule ahead.

So, with that that all in mind, I'm going to predict another 6-6 season for Syracuse football. Sure, it's not the sexiest pick. It won't draw attention like our resident #NotTrueFan John Cassillo, who wrote that SU will finish under .500. But it may not be what you want to hear, either. Later this week, Sean Keeley will explain Syracuse's path to nine wins. How nice.

But life is about finding happy mediums. You're not going to marry the stunning blonde at the bar. And you probably won't spend the rest of your life with the hag with no personality. Somewhere, in the middle, is your wife.  Let me be your wife. No wait, that came out wrong.

Without further ado, here's my case for 6-6.

Villanova Wildcats: New uniforms, new season and an underdog opponent in the home opener. Syracuse should clobber the Cats. But would you be surprised at all if it was close? The team works out the kinks in the second half to finish off Villanova. Unlike in the past two years, Syracuse gets an easy trial run to wipe off the rust. W (1-0, 0-0)

at Central Michigan Chippewas: Two teams in similar circumstances. Both went 6-6 last season, featured offenses that didn't score a ton and have quarterbacks entering their second year as the starter -- Syracuse's Terrel Hunt and CMU's Cooper Rush. But it will be SU's deep rushing attack that creates the difference. The Chippewas gave up 201 yards per game on the ground last year.  W (2-0, 0-0)

Maryland Terrapins: It's a game you may expect to win, but probably shouldn't. The Orange will be flying high off a 2-0 start and the Terps underwhelmed in last year's match up. But Maryland's wideouts come back at full strength to give SU's shaky secondary its first real test of the season. L (2-1, 0-0)

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: As someone with a slight disdain for Notre Dame, I'd love to tell you that they will fail miserably in this game. Or that the recent academic suspensions will have a huge impact. But I just can't do it. Everett Golson powers the Irish past Syracuse in a 34-20 win at MetLife Stadium. L (2-2, 0-0)

Louisville Cardinals: As John C. pointed out, this game fits the #narrative for the Syracuse upset -- Friday night home game. This one could go either way, but I'll give the edge to Bobby Petrino's Cards, who very well could leave the Dome with a 6-0 record.

Florida State Seminoles: I don't wanna talk about it. L (2-4, 0-2)

at Wake Forest Deamon Deacons: The season hangs in the balance, following a four game losing streak and a fan base starting the count down to basketball season.  Quite simply, Syracuse needs to win to keep bowl hopes alive and well.  Fortunately, the Orange finds the right opponent -- one who was rated dead last in ESPN's ACC Power Rankings. Coach Shafer gets the much-needed win in Winston-Salem and the defense gets a bounce back performance. W (3-4, 1-2)

at Clemson Tigers: Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are gone, but the result will be the same. The trip to Death Valley isn't kind to Syracuse, who gets obliterated by the Tigers once again. L (3-5, 1-3)

NC State Wolfpack: A much-needed return to the Dome after almost a month away. The Pack couldn't provide much of a challenge last year in Raleigh and shouldn't be any tougher up north. W (4-5, 2-3)

Duke Blue Devils: Syracuse and Duke coming together to provide some good November entertainment in...football. Who woulda thunk? The face-off between dual-threat quarterbacks Terrel Hunt and Anthony Boone will be fun to watch.  This is a pivotal toss-up game for Syracuse in a season likely marked by blowout wins and losses. I'll give the edge to Duke, who will be fighting to keep their Coastal Division crown. L (4-6, 2-4)

at Pittsburgh Panthers: Given the recent history against Pitt, it won't be easy to see so much on the line at Heinz Field. SU has lost seven of the last eight in the series, including a disastrous ending to the 2011 season. This time, the Orange take care of business and postseason is in reach. W (5-6, 3-4)

at Boston College Eagles: Ah, and here we are again. A game with the Eagles to determine bowl eligibility. Can you really see the season ending any other way? But no last-minute heroics are needed this year. The Eagles aren't able to keep the game close, having lost Andre Williams and several key offensive players to graduation. W (6-6, 4-4)

***

So there you have it. It's not quite Shafer's goal of eight wins, but given the quality of opponents and the overall state of the program right now, a reasonable outcome for Syracuse football.

What do you think TNIAAMers? Too many wins, too few, or just right?