Syracuse football kicks off on September 4, 2015 -- 100 days (!!!) from now, if you're keeping track like I am. This may sound like self-torment, and in many ways it is. But each and every fall, I tell myself this season is going to be different, and counting down to kickoff reinforces that optimism (in my mind).
So with that countdown in mind, here are 100 (good, bad and indifferent) things to get you through the 100 days until the 2015 Orange football season begins:
1. Syracuse's strength of schedule for 2015 is rated 68th in the NCAA (by the NCAA method of straight-up winning percentage).
2. The Orange open up this year with four home games at the Dome -- Rhode Island, Wake Forest, Central Michigan and LSU, respectively, all visit Central New York this September.
3. The September 12 matchup with Wake Forest marks SU's first September in-conference game since 2008, a 34-24 loss to Pitt.
4. SU is the 18th-winngest FBS program of all-time, with a 708-531-49 record. That .577 winning percentage, however, ranks them 37th.
5. If the Orange make a bowl this season, that would be the program's 26th postseason trip. That's not an enormous number, but their .620 winning percentage in bowls this far is currently in the top 10 for schools that have been to 10 or more games.
6. As a reminder, no SU coach has ever made a bowl game in year three...
7. Syracuse has a winning record against just four of this year's opponents: Boston College (29-19), Wake Forest (3-1), Rhode Island (2-0) and Central Michigan (2-0).
8. This year's meeting between the Orange and Pitt Panthers marks the 71st iteration of that matchup -- tying them for the most of any SU opponent (with Penn State).
9. The September 26 game between Syracuse and LSU is the first time the two teams have met at a home or road venue. Previous meetings took place at the Sugar Bowl (1965) and Hall of Fame Bowl (1989).
10. SU's all-time record against 2015 opponents is 81-88-3, with all three ties coming against Pitt.
11. The 2014 Orange's points-per-game average of 17.1 was the 12th-worst figure for the program over the last 50 years.
12. Likely hot topic throughout the offseason and into the regular season: what the hell is going on with 44? (just in case you needed to be reminded of what happened last week)
13. Just in case you forgot who's on the Orange (sans 2015 commits), here's your depth chart reminder. Further reminder, our coach does not think depth charts matter.
14. Looking even further ahead, SU's 2016 non-conference slate is already complete (and looks sort of manageable).
15. Syracuse had a top-40 team in terms of offensive pace last year... this is the part where you scream over and over.
16. Feel like betting on Syracuse football? Early over/under predictions set the bar at 4.5 wins (and they're probably not wrong).
17. Want to watch the Orange for the first three games on 2014? You're looking at ESPN3 (Rhode Island), ACCN (Wake Forest) and RSN (Central Michigan), respectively.
18. In case you hated facing Everett Golson last season, we'll be facing him again this season... in a Florida State uniform (gulp).
19. One of the biggest victories of this season could be off the field, if Robert Washington's commitment holds and he ends up signing with Syracuse.
20. We'll be busting out ORANGE uniforms this season! When, we don't know, but the LSU game sounds about right...
21. With three pretty winnable games to start September, the Orange could start 3-0 for the first time since 1991 (I know...), when the team actually won its four games en route to a 10-2 record.
22. Pre-season advanced ratings: Syracuse is 75th in ESPN's FPI metric, and even lower in F/+ (though can't seem to locate that link at the moment).
23. The Carrier Dome will have FieldTurf again. You're thrilled.
24. After a lackluster second half of last season, Tim Lester has spent the offseason implementing his system -- which is supposedly much simpler and streamlined than George McDonald's was. Now let's see how that plays out on the field.
25. SU brings in a new director of football operations this season: Orange grad Drew Robinson. He replaces Steve Scarnecchia, who's now working for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
26. Is Syracuse the second-least desirable job in the ACC?
27. This year marks the first under the new NCAA cost-of-attendance stipends. Syracuse has the third-lowest among all P5 schools (though there's more to that story).
28. We need a new athletic director. Here's one worthwhile candidate's resume.
29. In (or near) the Syracuse area? You can buy football season tickets right now, for as little as $99 apiece.
30. File this under awesome and unexpected: Luke Arciniega will be eligible for both the 2015 AND 2016 seasons. That's pretty helpful considering our lack of depth on the defensive line (where he'll be switching to).
31. The Orange are currently 31-32 in this decade -- a .492 winning percentage. If that holds through 2019, it would rank as the third-lowest decade win pct. since the 1950s.
32. If current trends hold, SU would tally 62 wins in the 2010s -- equal to the same total the team had in the 1950s, when they had a .681 winning percentage (and a national title).
33. Wide-receiver-turned-tight-end-turned-wide-receiver-again Jamal Custis might walk on to the basketball team this season.
34. Syracuse currently has a three-game bowl winning streak, including the 2013 Texas Bowl and two straight Pinstripe Bowls (2012 and 2010).
35. After being stripped of five wins from the GERG era, the program was technically 5-37 under He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Just to remind you...
36. In positive news, that time that Rob Konrad swam 16 hours and proved himself to be the best swimmer of any 44.
37. For more gambling: Syracuse is +6000 (tied with Wake for the longest shot) to win the ACC football championship.
38. Read Athlon? (maybe) Ashton Broyld is on the cover of this year's preview magazine for Syracuse.
39. After five straight years of 1,000-yard rushers from 2008-2012, it's been two years since any Orange player has reached the mark now.
40. If you care about Orange players post-college, Chandler Jones added his name to the list of SU players with Super Bowl rings this year.
41. The Friday night game against Rhode Island marks the 35th home opener at the Carrier Dome for SU.
42. The Rhode Island game is the second straight Friday night opener for Syracuse. We'll choose to forget what happened during last year's.
43. This is my fourth season covering this football team on TNIAAM. Pray for me.
44. (Space reserved for Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little, who are all getting statues at Plaza 44 this fall)
45. Since we didn't see a whole lot of it last year: the Dancing Floyd gif.
46. If you don't remember early W-L projections for SU on this site: here they are.
47. If there's something that should terrify you about the 2015 slate, that Florida State-Louisville-Clemson (first two on the road) string should and will.
48. Terrel Hunt would need to win 12 games this year to get to 20 career victories at SU. His record is currently 8-7. He's very unlikely to hit 20 wins, FYI.
49. The last Orange passer to reach 20 wins was Ryan Nassib, who tallied 21 from 2010-2012.
50. Since 1959, Hunt sits 43rd on Syracuse's all-time rushing list. He's also third amongst QBs, sitting behind Donovan McNabb and Don McPherson. He'd need 492 yards on the ground to tie McPherson and 870 to tie McNabb.
51. SU was last ranked in the AP poll in 2001 (14th in the final rankings).
52. SU last received votes in the AP poll during the 2011 season -- week nine, following the West Virginia upset.
53. Believe it or not, Hunt is 10th in passing yardage at Syracuse since 1956, with 2,621 yards in 15 games thus far. One can assume his ceiling on that list is probably taking Perry Patterson's (/dies) spot at fifth. Hunt is 19th in passing TDs, however, with 11.
54. Of active players, Ashton Broyld currently sits highest on the Orange's all-time receiving list, with 679 yards through the air (37th all-time). His 74 catches, however, are 22nd-best (bubble screen lyfe).
55. While Riley Dixon has a little more than half of Rob Long's punting yardage over the course of his career, he's just 0.7 yards per punt away from matching Long's career 43.3 average. Since Dixon's going to win the Heisman Trophy, this won't be much of an issue.
56. The last time Syracuse made two bowl games in a row, then missed a year, then made one the next year? 1958-1961.
57. The last time Syracuse made two bowl games in a row, and then missed two in a row? Never (good sign, Shafer!).
58. Syracuse might try to schedule North Carolina in a "non-conference" football game in the future. College sports are stupid.
59. The Orange have a new tight ends coach this year in Jake Moreland. That also meant Bobby Acosta was moved up to wide receivers coach.
60. Ervin Phillips is no longer an H-back, if you didn't notice in that depth chart post. He's now a wide receiver. Whatever.
61. Other changes: Doug Marrone totally over-played his hand in Buffalo this offseason, and now he's basically Costanza down in Jacksonville.
62. The 2015 college football season marks the first year Syracuse will have full use of the Ensley Athletic Center.
63. Regarding Tim Lester, all the talk about this offense has been focused on the tight ends... or as they'll probably end up being "tight ends" in position name only.
64. Connecticut still hates us, by the way. That's cool. They'll need that in 2016 and 2018.
65. This is a full-season breakdown of play-calling for the Orange offense. You don't have to click. I'm just letting you know it's there.
66. Best name on the 2015 football team (of those currently on the roster)? A tie between Trey Dunkelberger and Hernz Laguerre. Syracuse: Germany's College Team.
67. Syracuse has had 17 consensus All-Americans in program history. The most recent was Dwight Freeney in 2001.
68. The Orange have had 18 coaches in program history, with Shafer being the most recent. Nine of them have served at least four years. SMFS could be the 10th name if 2015 is markedly better than 2014.
69. Shafer is one of three Orange coaches with an undefeated bowl record. Doug Marrone is 2-0, while Frank Maloney is 1-0 with Shafer.
70. Also: 21 of SU's 25 bowl bids were earned under three coaches: Paul Pasqualoni (nine), Ben Schwartzwalder (seven) or Dick MacPherson (five).
71. Four of Syracuse's opponents from last season (Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, Duke) were ranked going into their game against the Orange.
72. In 2015, three teams (LSU, FSU, Clemson) are fairly certain to be ranked going into the matchup with the Orange, and Louisville very well could too.
73. Syracuse has faced at least three ranked teams every year since 2012. The 2011 season was the last time they did not face three -- they faced just one in 2011 (WVU, which they beat on national television).
74. As mentioned earlier, the Orange are 3-1 all-time against Wake Forest. All of those meetings have occurred since 2006, with SU winning the most recent three games in the series.
75. Of the 10 teams Syracuse has faced the most in program history, they only face two of them (Pitt, BC) this season. However, five (those two, plus Maryland, Colgate and Holy Cross) are on future schedules.
76. SU has had just two seasons of double-digit losses in its history, 2005 and 2007. Both were under GERG.
77. SU has had six double-digit win seasons in its history, all of them under Ben (one), Coach Mac (two) and Coach P (three).
78. We had two players named to the All-ACC team (third team) last season. Neither of those players (Sean Hickey, Cam Lynch) are on the team this year.
79. Scott Shafer is the first Orange head coach with a first name (that he goes by) longer than four letters since Frank Maloney in 1980.
80. (Scott) Shafer and (Frank) Maloney are the only Orange football coaches with names longer than four letters since 1949.
81. Shafer is the third SU head coach with an 'S' last name, joining Ben Schwartzwalder and Ossie Solem.
82. A reminder: the Invisible Swordsman's weekly features are your favorite part of football season.
83. Get excited for Steve Ishmael this year. He's already 76th in SU's all-time receiving yards as a freshman.
84. The Ivan Foy dancing gif should bring you back to simpler times.
85. New players are arriving at SU this fall. Here's a list of names you'll want to know (some of whom may see the field this fall).
86. The Carrier Dome isn't NFL-ready. That's probably okay.
87. There are various ways to save Syracuse football. Sean spelled out all of them in a fantastic post last fall.
88. Otto might be in for a makeover this year. Just so you don't get scared by the newer-looking anthropomorphic orange on the sidelines this year.
89. Syracuse has played in the state of Kentucky five times -- will be six come this fall against Louisville. Unsure where that stacks up in terms of overall state-by-state numbers, but I bet that's pretty low for the Orange in modern common opponents' states.
90. Regarding Louisville: that time the Orangemen beat the Cardinals in Japan must have been fun. Also: we played a game in Japan!
91. Considering its lack of perceived football pedigree, Syracuse hasn't done half bad in terms of Heisman voting. Along with 1961 Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis, Jim Brown (fifth in 1956), Don McPherson (second in 1987) and Donovan McNabb (fifth in 1998) also had strong showings in the voting process. Granted, two of those players should've won as well... but we don't need to go there right now.
92. Syracuse football has been around since 1899, which means we're coming up on a pretty impressive 125 years of the program within the next decade. Not bad for a private school in Central New York that's managed to become a member of a power conference, gang..
93. Shafer's 10-15 mark after two years is the first time SU football has ever gone 10-15 over a two-year stretch of time.
94. The Orange/Orangemen have recorded 41 ties in the history of the program... just three short of us acting all stupid about it.
95. SU has played in a one-point game in each of the last three seasons (won one, lost two). Which of this year's matchups might give us the ole' heart attack treatment this time?
96. The West Virginia Mountaineers do not appear on Syracuse's schedule for the third straight season, and it'll stay that way unless they meet in a bowl once again. This is the longest gap in playing one another for the two schools since 1946-1954, which was right before a string of playing each other every year from 1955 to 2012.
97. The Orange's current five-game losing streak is its second such streak since 2011, when they lost seven straight from the end of '11 through the first two games of '12.
98. If Hunt gets SU to a bowl game this year, he'll be the second Orange QB in the last 11 years to lead the program to two bowl games. He'd also be the second QB to lead SU to ANY bowl game in the last 11 years.
99. This is the first time the Orange football program will play seven true home games since 2011 (when they also played seven).
100. Right now, we're tied for first place in the ACC! (optimism, guys!)
That was exhausting. Hopefully you all enjoy those facts, though. 100 MORE DAYS!