Syracuse Orange football is in a very interesting place.
They're coming off of a very poor season, one that was the lowest-attended in Carrier Dome history. To counter the season that would turn any optimist to pessimism, the Orange hired a much-needed up-tempo coach in Dino Babers to bring some excitement to the fans.
Every Syracuse coach has a trademark game to look back on as a huge game in both that individual season and as a whole on the coach's Syracuse career. For Doug Marrone, it had to be the thrashing of Geno Smith and West Virginia in the Dome in 2011. For Scott Shafer, I believe it was the two-minute drive against Boston College to gain bowl eligibility in 2013.
So what could potentially be Dino Babers' signature win that puts him on the Syracuse map this season? Could it be against Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium on October 1st? How about a huge upset over Florida State in the Dome on November 19th?
In my mind, it's much, much simpler than that: beat Louisville in the Dome for the ACC opener.
Would history show a win over Florida State as a bigger landmark win than beating Louisville? Absolutely. But as far as generating fan buzz both locally and nationally, this is as big of a game as they come.
An ACC opener on national television is an enormous opportunity for Babers and company to gain some interest in the program. A win would display a new offense on a national stage against a quality (and beatable) ACC opponent. Not to say Louisville is a slouch by any means, but I think it's fair to say nobody would be shocked if Syracuse won the game.
A win would put Syracuse on the radar for the rest of the conference. While we expect the offense to be run similar to Babers's system at Bowling Green, the ACC is a different animal. Undoubtedly, adjustments will be made and we may see things we never expected this season.
The Louisville game is like a bunch Reuben Fritters at Kitty Hoynes. They look appealing as soon as you start the meal, and make the perfect appetizer, which can be critical in setting you up for the rest of the meal. Would a win over Florida State or Notre Dame be the Dublin Guinness Strip Steak of the season? Absolutely. But without a fast and solid start to the schedule, a huge upset like that loses some of its shine. While a 2-2 Syracuse team beating Notre Dame would be huge, it could be monumental if a 3-1/4-0 Syracuse team does the same thing.
While Week One will be interesting to see what the new offense looks like, Week Two is the big one.
Reuben Fritters aside, what game on the schedule do you think is most important for the Orange this season?