Yesterday, the Syracuse Orange football schedule was released along with the rest of the 2017 ACC football schedule as well. Once we digested what we saw (a brutal mid-season stretch, of course), the next question was all about how many wins we could get out of it.
Well, how many can we?
Looking at the schedule week-by-week below, we assign a win probability from zero to 100 percent. Adding up the totals will give us a likely win total at the end of the year. We did this last year and ended up at 4.6, so it’s a fairly accurate method.
Week 1: Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
CCSU was not good last year, which means they’re a smart FCS team to play. The 2-9 Blue Devils will be at a talent and speed disadvantage, which will only get worse for them as the game continues. Win likelihood: 98%
Week 2: Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Everyone’s tempted to just call this a win, but there are a couple factors that weigh against SU. Scott Shafer will be making his return to the Carrier Dome, and you can’t just run MTSU off the turf in any case. The Blue Raiders ran things at a similar speed to the Orange last year, which means Dino Babers will have to identify another inefficiency to beat them. Still, they should win this one. Win likelihood: 70%
Week 3: Central Michigan Chippewas
CMU’s turning over some talent this offseason (including long-time quarterback Cooper Rush), so this could potentially be a blowout in the making. Adding some fuel to that fire is the fact that the Chippewas’ dirty late hit in 2015 started our concerns about Eric Dungey and potential concussion effects in the first place. Please score 50 on them, Dino. Win likelihood: 85%
Week 4: at LSU Tigers
Let’s get this out of the way: Syracuse isn’t winning this game. It’s LSU, on the road, probably at night -- where opposing teams go to die. New Tigers offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s familiar with how to beat the Orange as well (from both NC State and Pitt), potentially negating any advantage SU’s pace could pose. Just enjoy the tailgating and a weekend in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Win likelihood: 8%
Week 5: at NC State Wolfpack
Oof. If this game was at home, and maybe on a different part of the schedule, it would be very easy to buy into this one as a win. But stacked right on top of another road game (at a tougher opponent)? It’s not necessarily as simple. The Wolfpack probably take this one, but put it firmly in the category of swing game. Win likelihood: 40%
Week 6: Pittsburgh Panthers
There are pieces missing from what made Pittsburgh a force last year, which gives the Orange some hope. But Pitt does still have a talent advantage that sets them apart. Still, if the Panthers’ defense hasn’t improved from what was on the field in 2016, it’s an opening. If Syracuse is still healthy, let’s really entertain this as a win. SU will need it if they have any shot at making a bowl. Win likelihood: 40%
Week 7: Clemson Tigers
Nope. The Tigers lose a lot, but replace it with a lot of other talent that’s of the four- and five-star variety. And while SU has certainly kept it close with the Tigers twice in the last three years, this just may not be the time for an upset (this upset) yet. Still, expect something far more entertaining than what we saw down in South Carolina last fall. Win likelihood: 10%
Week 8: at Miami Hurricanes
Miami’s lost a bunch of top-flight offensive talent, which will make it hard to keep scoring at the pace Syracuse could potentially be able to. But a road game after a very tough four-week stretch probably hurts the Orange’s chances more than those other factors could hurt Miami. Win likelihood: 25%
Week 10: at Florida State Seminoles
The ‘Noles were pretty young last year, and now that top-tier talent is a year older. Plus, the game’s down in Tallahassee, which makes it all the more difficult for Syracuse to even consider a win (and every game leading up to it doesn’t help either). Just don’t lose anyone to injury in this one, please. Win likelihood: 5%
Week 11: Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The monsoon game of 2016 never should’ve happened the way it did. Despite (or maybe because of) that, Syracuse should be able to bounce back against Wake this year and pull off a win. The Deacons have improved, but Syracuse has too. If the Orange are healthy, this looks like (and has to look like) a win. Win likelihood: 60%
Week 12: at Louisville Cardinals
Think about what Lamar Jackson was able to do to Syracuse at the Dome. He’s probably going to do something similar to SU in 2017. Even if the game’s closer, and it doesn’t provide a “Heisman moment” for Jackson, it’s unlikely the Orange pull off a win. Win likelihood: 15%
Week 13: Boston College Eagles
Steve Addazio will play a decrepit, old style of Northeast football until he’s removed for doing so. Syracuse is not going to do that, which means they’re coming away with yet another win in this series. Whether a bowl bid’s in the balance or not, expect some fireworks from the Orange offense. Win likelihood: 67%
For the math-impaired, that's .98 + .70 + .85 + .08 +.40 + .40 + .10 + .25 + .05 + .60 + .15 + .67 = 5.23 wins
So that COULD mean a bowl game, if we’re assisted by APR. We would’ve made one last year had Syracuse managed to pull off an additional win.
It doesn’t sound like a LOT of progress, but this schedule’s prohibitive to seeing the full scope of what progress looks like. Hopefully that doesn’t bog this team down too much in 2017.