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Syracuse football roundtable: Will the Orange make a bowl game?

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Polling the audience on the season’s most critical question with four games to play.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

At 4-4 going into the bye week, the Syracuse Orange are at an interesting point in Dino Babers’s first season. The remaining schedule’s tough, and the team’s had some struggles. We didn’t really expect success in terms of wins and losses in year one. And yet, they’re just a win or two away from bowl eligibility.

So can they pull it off?

We ask the TNIAAM staff for their opinions below...

Nick Petraccione

Yes, I think Syracuse will make a bowl this season. Babers said earlier in the year that it takes a while for players to adapt and accept a new system under a new staff. After the Virginia Tech win, this team has bought into Babers and you can see it through their play. Dungey ranks as the second-best QB in the FBS in terms of passing yards, and the defense has stepped up allowing SU to win back-to-back ACC games for the first time since 2013.

They are so close to a bowl game and I think they will reach it. If they will go to the Independence Bowl (which they won back in 1979 beating McNeese State). I can even see them getting into a bowl like the Quick Lane Bowl at 5-7 because of APR ratings.

Claudia Ceva

Ever the optimist, I think the Orange will make a bowl this year with a win against NC State, Pitt, or both. With our APR being pretty high, we could definitely be one of the 5-7 bowl teams. I'm not banking on us winning against the Wolfpack on November 12 or the Panthers on November 26, and I know better now than to chalk the games against Clemson and FSU up as losses because college football is crazy. I also realize that two upsets in one season is a lot, especially for a rebuilding program that seems to have finally found its groove over the past couple of weeks. 5-7/6-6 is my final answer.

Andy Pregler

No, I really don't think Syracuse will make a bowl. If they had to win just one more game, I'd say I think they could (HI NOT PLAYING ND). But if you look at what Pitt and NC State are, they're top-40 teams this year that we have to play after (presumably) getting hammered by superior teams. NC State at home is a big if, but they've got a top 20 defense and are a solid, well coached/disciplined team. They don't make mistakes, so they'll beat teams they have more talent than, which Syracuse definitely qualifies as.

Pitt's offense has been really lackluster considering they have James Connor back, but they're second in the nation at finishing drives. They won't leave points on the table at home meaning we have to win a shootout in Pittsburgh in November. I don't like that at all.

The Invisible Swordsman

I can't believe I am typing this, but yes, we will bowl. Ok, confession time friends. Who thought just two weeks ago that this was a 3-9 team? (raises hand confidently). Following back-to-back wins against VT and BC, who thinks we can take two from the following and finish 6-6: Clemson, FSU, NC State and Pitt? (raises hand sheepishly). I look at that tilt and see best case 2-2, worst case 0-4. Each of these teams presents a tough challenge, but our defense has stabilized from our early-season disasters, and the offense has proven to put up points even when absolutely KILLING themselves with penalties.

I just feel in my gut that this team has one more big surprise in them. Heck even a 5-7 finish doesn't guarantee that we'll be left home in December, and what meaningless nobody of a bowl wouldn't want to host "America's Coach, Dino Babers" (Copyright 2016 -Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician) and his high-flying offensive theatrics?!? We're totally doing this!

Steve Haller

No, Syracuse won't make a bowl. Or at least they won't the traditional way. If we eek in at 5-7, then so be it and I'm a happy man, but the way this schedule finishes, I don't see a way we take out Clemson, let alone in Death Valley. Florida State isn't the normal FSU, but they're still a large talent gap above us. Crazier things have happened, but that's a loss as well. That leaves us with NC State and Pitt. I'm assuming we split these, beating NC State at home and not being able to keep up with Pitt on the road in November outdoors. If we snag both, I'll be a happy camper and it's quite feasible, but if I were putting money down I say we finish 5-7.

Julian Whigham

Evidence over optimism. Syracuse will be 5-6 heading into their matchup with Pitt, and by that time expect the Panthers to be another top 25 opponent. Syracuse hasn’t beaten the Pitt Panthers on the road in over 15 years and I don’t expect that to change on Nov. 26. The Panthers boast a capable passing game and strong rushing attack, I haven’t seen enough from this Syracuse defense to feel comfortable enough to rely on that side of the ball to keep them in the game yet. Offensively, the Orange still have a tendency to sputter out in the third and fourth quarters, Wake Forest all wasn’t that long ago and performances like the one against Boston College, giving a team every chance to win, won’t cut it. As much as I want this team to go bowling, I don't know if the Orange have proven enough quite yet.

Kevin Wall

As someone who predicted a bowl appearance at the beginning of the year, I'm getting back on the bandwagon here. I think the Orange will find a way to knock off NC State in the Dome and thanks to their APR score, they will get invited to a bowl game with a 5-7 record. I don't think it will be easy, or pretty, but I think this team is getting better each week and being home will make the difference against the Wolfpack.

Ari Gilberg

No. After an upset win over Virginia Tech and a solid showing against Boston College, the hype for Syracuse football hasn’t been this high since the Orange’s season-opening win over Colgate. Unfortunately, it’s time to pump the brakes. Yes, Syracuse’s performance against Virginia Tech was impressive. Yes, at 4-4 the Orange only need one more win to become bowl eligible. Yes, Syracuse has four games remaining to do so. However, let’s take a look at those four games.The Orange still have No. 3 Clemson and No. 12 Florida State on it schedule. Clemson is arguably the best team in college football – outside of No. 1 Alabama – and Florida State’s two losses have come against No. 5 Louisville and No. 21 North Carolina.

Assuming Syracuse loses those two games, that leaves NC State and Pittsburgh still in play. As of right now, Syracuse is still projected to lose both of those games – which would put Syracuse’s record at 4-8 and out of bowl game consideration. Even if the Orange are able to pull out a win in one of those two games – most likely against NC State – and become bowl eligible at 5-7, their 2014-2015 Academic Progress Rating of 973, the most recent one available, is unlikely to be high enough to warrant a bowl game invitation. #Disloyal

John Cassillo

Back in August, I wanted to be on the 6-6 train, but couldn’t make the leap from 5-7. After a slight detour, I’m right back where I started. There’s a path to 6-6, but it’s not really a feasible one. NC State’s better than last week’s loss to Louisville indicates, and Pitt has our number (and potentially weather) on their side. We could certainly win one of those game,s but both? That would take a herculean effort of luck and a perfectly-executed gameplan. The ceiling’s at 5-7 in my book, which could mean a bowl. But I’m tempted to believe it won’t. That’s not a terrible place to be right now.

Sean Keeley

No, Syracuse will not make a bowl game this year. I think we're going to finish 5-7 with a win over NC State or Pitt but that'll be it. As for this talk of an APR-induced bowl game at 5-7, I think it's more wishful thinking than anything. That's not to say I don't think the team will do well for the rest of the year. I take Clemson off the table cause that's just crazy. FSU is "down" but they're still FSU. We could give them a game, for sure, but I'm not ready to say we'll beat them just yet. All of that said, I'm more than ready to be wrong again. It's within the realm of possibility that we can do it, I just don't think it'll happen. Too many years of Syracuse football under my belt to have those kinds of expectations.

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So how about you? Bowl or no bowl this December for the Syracuse Orange?