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Eight games that could matter for Syracuse football this weekend

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The Orange are on a bye. That doesn’t mean there aren’t important games being played.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame vs Syracuse Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

After eight weeks and four wins, the Syracuse Orange are one a well-deserved bye week. But there are still plenty of college football games worth your attention this Saturday (and yesterday and today), as they pertain to the Orange’s postseason hopes.

As we discussed in the bowl game roundtable on Wednesday, there’s a slight chance SU sneaks into the postseason at 5-7. But obviously things would need to fall correctly for that to happen. Former TNIAAM writer Brian Tahmosh broke down the teams near the cut line and above us in the APR in the comments section, which gives us an idea of who we’re sort of rooting against for the rest of the season.

There’s also more ACC games to be played for Syracuse, so we factor that in below, too.

You’ll find a list of eight games of interest here, which may actually be contests worth watching to various degrees.

Kentucky at Missouri

Mizzou’s in a tailspin at 2-5 after a loss to (2017 SU non-conference opponent) Middle Tennessee, while Kentucky’s been improving week over week. The Tigers have managed to fix their offense this season, but now it’s the defense that’s problematic for them, and what puts them in this situation. Their APR is slightly better than Syracuse’s (978 vs. SU’s 973), but that’s still enough if they both o 5-7. Root for more losses.

Miami at Notre Dame

While the Fighting Irish beat Syracuse several weeks ago, they haven’t managed a win since. Sitting at 2-5, and with a slightly better APR (975 vs. 973) than the Orange, Notre Dame needs three more losses to be out of Syracuse’s way. That can start with Miami.

Minnesota at Illinois

The Illini’s lone FBS win is over Rutgers, though you can see some improvement here in the team’s first season under Lovie Smith. Still, they’re another team at 2-5 with a better APR score, and that means you’re begrudgingly pulling for the Gophers this weekend in this probably unwatchable Big Ten tilt.

No. 2 Michigan at Michigan State

As you may recall, Michigan State beat Michigan by way of a ridiculous blocked punt return for a touchdown in 2015. The Spartans have also owned the rival Wolverines of late. This can’t end well for MSU with a lunatic like Harbaugh at the reins for UM. Expect blood, and a sixth loss, inching Michigan State ever closer to being out of contention for bowl eligibility.

No. 3 Clemson at No. 12 Florida State

This has nothing to do with APR scores, and more to do with Syracuse’s upcoming opponent, Clemson. Yes, the talent gap is wide between the Tigers and Orange, and yes the two teams face off in a hostile environment in Death Valley. That said, it would sure be helpful if the Tigers were a bit worn down when SU came to town — even if they still end up beating FSU. Keep an eye on this one too, from the perspective of the ACC making the College Football Playoff.

San Diego State at Utah State

As if you needed another reason to root for SDSU beyond Donnell Pumphrey’s potential record-setting year, how about a slight need to root against Utah State? The Aggies are 3-4, but above us in the APR. They’ll still need four more losses in the next five games for it to come down to a direct one vs. one comparison with Syracuse for a bowl bid. But a loss here could help if that were the case.

Maryland at Indiana

Both teams are ahead of SU in the APR, but a win for Maryland helps serve the goal of getting them out of this potential 5-7 pool (this would be win number six). For the Hoosiers, a loss would be their fifth on the year, with at least two more probable defeats on the schedule (Penn State, Michigan). Begrudgingly, go Terps.

Boston College at NC State

This has nothing to do with bowl odds for SU, and everything to do with Steve Addazio probably getting canned at Boston College. Should the Eagles lose, it would be 13 consecutive ACC losses for the program. The conference doesn’t keep track of these things formally, but the league record may be Duke’s 25 straight from 2004 to 2007. If someone finds a longer streak, raise your hand. But BC still has a long way to go in order to sniff the Blue Devils here.

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Any additional games of interest, strictly from a Syracuse perspective? Share your own picks below.