Last week, we noticed that Syracuse Orange football is slated to face three different top 25 teams in 2015: Florida State, Clemson and LSU. Now, SU has faced top 25 teams before -- including all three of those at various points in the past.
Looking at the USA Today Coaches' Poll again, though, how many of those programs has Syracuse NEVER faced? And further, let's rank those programs by how much we'd actually want to face them. (H/T EDSBS)
Note: This would comprise a nightmare schedule for me, I'm aware, if all of these teams were included in the same season. There is no winner when the Orange schedule tough. Just bitter despair.
On to the teams, RANKED:
We traded Twitter handles once. But other than that, the two schools with the same logo have had minimal contact. I'm a long-time proponent of playing other private schools, even though a lot of them are in better football situations than us at the moment. Obviously this would end poorly for us, but I'd gladly send myself up to Palo Alto to watch the Orange play in my adopted state. The Card have a nice venue for football, with plenty of room for tailgating and a lot to see nearby too. If we have to dive into playing tough teams in our non-conference schedule, there are worse arrangements than this one -- despite how bad on-the-field results will be.
Do I really need to sell you on the Grove? Ole Miss is one of the best spots in all of college football to catch a game, and despite the mint any of us will have to pay to get a flight to Oxford, Miss., that atmosphere is well worth it. But as far as the game itself... this is where things could/will get messy. SU doesn't have the horses to run with the Rebels at this moment, and that defense would literally chew us up and spit us out. On the bright side: You'll get far too drunk before the game to feel that hurt later on.
Arkansas is supposed to be very good this year, and seems well equipped to continue improving after a several-year stay in the SEC West basement. But what we're focusing on here (more than game atmosphere or culture fit) is how the Hogs' style of play fits right into what Syracuse does. When you know you're going to lose, you're probably happier losing 16-10 while never feeling like you have a shot, versus 42-7, right? Well, then you want to head down to Fayetteville, Ark. to face the Razorbacks. They'll play in-the-trenches, defensively-minded ball all day, and maybe even give us a couple ideas on things we want to do better. This would definitely yield the closest score of the bunch.
Removing my feelings about their fans -- which are not positive at all after what I witnessed at the Rose Bowl Game last year -- Oregon's a cool state and a fun atmosphere for games, by all accounts. Along with U of O's campus in Eugene, fans would get to enjoy nearby Portland and all it had to offer... and that's where the fun ends. This would be a guaranteed bloodbath for the Orange, unfortunately, and it's not incredibly appealing to see this clash in football styles executed to varying levels of success or lack thereof. Do not schedule this game, please.
5. Arizona State
Todd Graham's beaten Syracuse before... and that was with Pitt. Do we really want to see what happens when he has a fully-weaponized Sun Devils squad? The answer is a resounding NO. Arizona State is all the fury of Oregon State's attack, but with a little less #BRAND and a whole lot more dry heat. Oregon gets the slight nod above them only because it's a lot more fun to hang out in Eugene than it is in Tempe, Ariz. With either, the result's likely the same: a rough loss for an overmatched Orange team.
6. Boise State
(/Glares menacingly at Mark Coyle from across the country) Boise State plays a style not-too-different from Oregon's, with the potential to run the Orange off the field and make us regret scheduling them. Worse-still, playing the Broncos wouldn't even count toward our required power-conference opponent quota. It would just be scheduling a loss for the sake of it. Plus, Boise's not an incredibly lively place -- which people probably say about Syracuse too, to be honest. The blue turf's the big draw for you the fan, as we're not likely to get much TV attention or recruiting help from going anywhere near Idaho.
Only six teams, but they are ranked, so now there's something to argue about. Agree, disagree? Weigh in below.