Ed. Note - This week TNIAAM writers are taking a stab at telling you at why this football team will finish with a specific record.
- Monday: 3-9 (Brian Tahmosh)
- Tuesday: 4-8 (Michael Burke)
- Wednesday: 5-7 (James Szuba)
- Thursday: 6-6 (John Casillo)
- Friday: 7-5 (Sean Keeley)
Last year, I ended this weekly exercise trying to convince you (and myself) that the 2014 Syracuse Orange football team had a path to a 9-3 record. To be fair, I got the numbers right, just not in the correct order.
This season, expectations are muted. Such is Syracuse Football. However, there are some saving graces to consider.
SU Football has been very volatile and unpredictable in recent years. Since 2009 we've gone from 4-8 to 8-5 to 5-7 to 8-5 to 7-6 to 3-9. Each season doesn't seem particularly dependent on the results of the previous one. So while we can sit here and draw straight lines from 2014 to 2015 all we want, the truth is that it's likely this year's result won't quite add up. And since last year was a disaster, perhaps the Football Gods will take pity on us this time around.
Also, and I don't have any empirical evidence to back this up, Syracuse Athletics programs do their best work when no one cares. Okay, it's definitely not true but I feel like it is. Shut up.
So while I'm not going to throw something insane like a 9-3 prediction out there, I am willing to stand behind a 7-5 one, crazy as that may seem. College football is a weird animal and with enough momentum and a crapton of luck, you never know what dreams may come.
Game 1, Rhode Island Rams: I've been beating the "soft scheduling" drum pretty hard this off-season and one of the big pushbacks I get is that on one wants to pay to see Rhode Island. My counter to that is that you might be paying to watch Syracuse win a football game by 30 points and how many times has that happened in the last decade? Not that f***ing many. So yeah, there are better-looking opponents, but man would I love to see SU come out guns blazing. I don't care if it's Rhode Island. Let's pad the stats while we can (Naturally, this game will come down to the final minutes and a game-winning field goal. Whatever). W (1-0, 0-0)
Game 2, Wake Forest Demon Deacons: This is probably the one ACC game that almost all Syracuse fans are considering a guaranteed win, or something close to that. That's a dumb thought because there's no such thing and it's not like we're worlds better than Wake. That said, yes, we should win this game. It's in the Dome. We beat them last year. They're not any better. So help me God if we don't... W (2-0, 1-0)
Game 3, Central Michigan Chippewas: I have this weird feeling about this game that it will be super-close. We'll still win, but despite all signs pointing to a repeat of last year's blowout, this one will be even closer than the Wake game. And it'll be super low-scoring just because. Like, 14-12. I don't have a tangible theory for you, I just know Syracuse Football really well. W (3-0, 1-0).
Game 4, LSU Tigers: While you might think me a #DisloyalIdiot for some of the things I say, I am a loyal Orange fan to the end. Between the whistles, I am pulling for SU to win every and any game they're playing. I will take a scrap of hope into this game that the stars will align and America will never be the same, but...come on, guys. L (3-1, 1-0).
Game 5, at South Florida Bulls: This is another one of those games where each side thinks this game is theirs for the taking. SU fans look at USF and think they stink. USF fans look at SU and think they stink and it's a home game. And true, it would not be the shock you think if they won this game. But at this point we're talking about an SU team that knows how to win and they also know what it's like to play a superior opponent. This is not a superior opponent. W (4-1, 1-0)
Game 6, at Virginia Cavaliers: Virginia scheduled so hard this year, they make Syracuse's LSU inclusion look downright quaint. They're going to come into this game beaten and battered. It's a road game so they'll give fight. Their fans will assume this is one of the few wins on the schedule. But we know better...we know better. W (5-1, 2-0).
Before we continue, I'd just like to take a moment to appreciate what we're looking at. A 5-1 start to the season and a 2-0 start to ACC play. I know there's a tough road ahead and the odds don't favor us, but if we can somehow find a way to appreciate this outcome if we do reach it, that'd be lovely.
Game 7, Pittsburgh Panthers: Syracuse and Pittsburgh are super-weird with one another in a way we've documented many times. It's an epic rivalry and no one cares about. Mostly because the series is always lopsided for long stretches. Right now it looks like Pitt is back in the driver's seat but there is a history of squiffy outcomes in recent years. The only reason I'm still going to give this one to them is James Conner. Until someone proves we can stop him. L (5-2, 2-1)
Game 8, at Florida State Seminoles: You know, one of these years, Syracuse is going to beat either FSU or Clemson. It's going to happen. Everything's eventual in college football. Teams that have no business doing so somehow find a way to beat teams that have no Earthly reason to lose. I'm not saying it'll be this season, cause it won't be. I'm just sayin'... L (5-3, 2-2)
Game 9, at Louisville Cardinals: While SU has a recent history of beating better (or at least ranked) Louisville squads, this one feels especially like too much to ask. The Cardinals are built to put up points and, at worst, compete in a shootout. That's something SU will not be able to do. L (5-4, 2-3).
Game 10, Clemson Tigers: Going back to what I was saying about how SU will eventually beat either FSU or Clemson...I really want it to be Clemson, you guys. SO MUCH. We will burn the Internet to the ground if it does happen. L (5-5, 2-4).
Just like that, our great start is but a distant memory and shades of 2011 are dancing in our heads. This is where it all comes to a head. Two games, one win needed for bow eligibility. Can we do it?
Game 11, N.C. State Wolfpack: If nothing else, Syracuse will be battle-tested by this point. Ultimately, it's going to come down to injuries (or the lack thereof) and how well the offense has gotten their act together. If those things work in Syracuse's favor, there's a great chance to exact some revenge on the Wolfpack, get back on the winning track and turn the BC game into a kind-of "no pressure" situation. W (6-5, 3-4).
Game 12, Boston College Eagles: Like I said, if we come into this game with a 6-5 record, there really isn't a lot of pressure on the team. I mean, yes, there is, but in the grand scheme of things a 7-5 record will make no difference to a 6-6 record when it comes to bowl selection. We'll probably end up in the same place either way. So perhaps that gives the squad a chance to let loose, run some trick plays, open things up and get some #OrangeEagle points, capping a successful season on all accounts (unless you're a lunatic who expected nine wins). W (7-5, 4-4).
Congrats to the 7-5 Orange who, thanks to all of the ACC bow slots being filled, end up in St. Petersburg for their first-ever The St. Petersburg Bowl appearance. We missed our chance at BEEF but it's still a bowl game in recruit-rich Florida. Who cares about the details, that is a massive win for the SU Football program in 2015. Take that and run.