The 2016 Syracuse Orange schedule is now official in all it's glory. A quick look around raises a few questions and generates some thoughts...
What happened to Syracuse vs. Boston College on Thanksgiving?
Alabama vs. Auburn it ain't but the budding re-rivalry between SU and BC was helped in part by being set in stone as the final game of the season on Thanksgiving weekend. That ensured that the game had a decent chance of stakes (bowl eligibility and/or seeding) and made sense as a game between two Atlantic Division school rivals.
Looking across the Thanksgiving Weekend game schedule, it looks like the league has decided to swap Syracuse vs. BC and Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest. Sure, Pitt is also a "rival" in theory but there just isn't much excitement between us and them (for some weird reason). It's not a unforgivable sin or anything but it's strange that the ACC felt the need to change this recent tradition for no apparent reason.
No Early Bye Game!
That hole in the non-conference schedule between the Colgate game and the USF game has been scaring Orange fans ever since we realized it wasn't going to be filled by another OOC opponent. We feared the worst...that we'd get another super-early bye week that would doom us to exhaustion later on in the year. Thankfully, that spot is filled (with a solid opponent in the Dome, no less) and we end up getting our bye week when we need it most...right before the Clemson Tigers and the late-season schedule surge.
Home is Where the Heart is (And Hopefully Some Wins)
Once again the Orange will be staying home for most of September and October and when they do leave town it's not very far. The first three games of the year are in the Carrier Dome, followed by a trip to Connecticut and then a "home game" at MetLife. After a trip to Wake Forest we're back in the Dome to welcome back the Virginia Tech Hokies. It's not the easiest opening stretch we've ever had but Syracuse certainly has it's opportunities. Fans should be out for the new head coach and new program direction. If they can pull off an unexpected win here or there, it could get pretty fun.
Remember, Remember, Don't Look at November
The league usually does us a favor of not throwing Clemson or FSU at us right off the bat but that means we end up getting both of them relatively close to one another later in the year. This year's final month sees us traveling to the defending ACC champs, hosting the pesky N.C. State Wolfpack as well as the might Seminoles and then finishing up with a road game at Pittsburgh, where they'll probably be pretty decent again. Another year where SU has to take advantage of the opportunities given to them in September and October.
All in All, the Schedule Looks Pretty Fair
I wouldn't say it's my ideal Syracuse Football schedule, but it's not exactly one of those insane ones from the recent past either. All of the tough opponents are ACC (or ACC-adjacent) schools we're going to get no matter what. The non-conference games work out in our favor (if we take care of business) and it's not inconceivable for SU to work its way close to 6-6 and bowl eligibility (which should be the goal right now).
The key for the Orange is to find a way to get to at least four wins by the bye week. Five, ideally, but let's not get greedy/stupid. Four gives us a chance with the Wolfpack in the Dome and a rivalry game vs. Pitt. As for Clemson and FSU, don't bet on anything crazy, but, it's gotta happen one of these years, right? RIGHT???