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Syracuse football can still make a bowl, and here’s how

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The season may feel like it’s over, but there’s still an opportunity out there.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange can still make a bowl game. I know, at 4-7 (2-5) and struggling since Eric Dungey was injured, it’s hard to believe. But the opportunity is still out there for Dino Babers’s team in his first season at the helm.

It’s not assured, mind you. But if the following steps take place, they could find themselves in some third-rate bowl, which is fine. We could use the extra practices and maybe some injured players actually return in the few weeks we’ll have off between now and then.

Step 1: Beat Pittsburgh

This is the toughest part. Vegas sees the Pittsburgh Panthers are 23.5-point favorites heading into this one, and as mentioned, SU’s far from healthy. But still, a win at Heinz Field gets us to five on the year, and then we play APR score roulette...

Step 2: Hope for losses

Yesterday, Syracuse.com’s Chris Carlson provided a breakdown of what needs to happen, calling out the 14 five-win teams that would be ahead of Syracuse in the pecking order if they win another game (either this Saturday or next Saturday, for some). According to Carlson, there are nine spots available for these teams. So you’re rooting for the following schools to lose:

Duke, Notre Dame, SMU, NC State, Southern Miss, South Alabama, TCU, Texas, UTSA, Miami (OH), Akron, Hawaii, Arizona State and Ole Miss.

Based on the opponent(s) each faces, some are more likely to win than others. We sort the likely winners and likely losers into two separate buckets below:

Likely to win

South Alabama (vs. Idaho and New Mexico State)

TCU (vs. Texas and Kansas State)

Miami (OH) (vs. Ball State)

Hawaii (vs. UMass)

Arizona State (vs. Arizona)

Ole Miss (vs. Mississippi State)

Likely to lose

Duke (vs. Miami)

Notre Dame (vs. USC)

SMU (vs. Navy)

NC State (vs. North Carolina)

Southern Miss (vs. Louisiana Tech)

Texas (vs. TCU)

Akron (vs. Ohio)

That’s six “likely winners” and eight “likely losers.” These results are also far from assured, and you could also negotiate a couple losers into a “push” situation if you wanted.

Still, there are a decent amount of losses on this list. If we beat Pitt, we just need eight.

Step 3: Get selected for a third-tier bowl

The QuickLane Bowl, Independence Bowl or Cactus Bowl are the current best shots. Other options could arise, but that’s probably what we’re looking at. One of those (the first one) is much preferred to the other alternatives due to location proximity to the Orange fan base. But still, a bowl’s a bowl and the extra practices are valuable.

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Do you want to go to a bowl at 5-7? Do you have confidence we’ll even beat Pitt? Share your thoughts on what we’re up against below.