Despite a strong effort against the Bye Week Fightin’ Byes on Saturday, the Syracuse Orange lost a bowl projection, with CBS dropping us from the ranks of the postseason-bound.
Still, everyone else is picking up what we’re putting down. So where are we slotted in? A rundown of the possible bowl destinations (and opponents):
CBS Sports: N/A
ESPN (Hale): Quick Lane Bowl vs. Western Michigan Broncos
SB Nation: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Pinstripe Bowl predictions remain the most dominant for the best Pinstripe Bowl team of all-time. Nebraska seems like an easy enough draw, considering the possibilities. Maryland could be too, depending on the injury situation there. A bowl’s a bowl, so I’m fine with either of these matchups.
Two lesser bowl destinations could include the Independence Bowl or Quick Lane Bowl, respectively. Those projections show us up against strong Group of Five competition, which is still fine. As mentioned before, however, I don’t love the WMU matchup for us for scheduling purposes. We face the Broncos to start 2018, and this would certainly make it a bit easier for Tim Lester & Co. to gameplan for that contest next fall.
For the second straight week, the most intriguing matchup is predicted by Sporting News, who has us headed to the Camping World Bowl against the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU was in the top five as recently as last week, and still has a very real shot at winning the Big 12 (which would put them in a bigger game than this one). But for Syracuse, a whole lot needs to happen to get this high up the ladder.
The Camping World Bowl is fifth on the ACC bowl hierarchy, or fourth if the champ doesn’t make the College Football Playoff. Right now, one could assume that Clemson, Miami, NC State and Virginia Tech will finish in front of the Orange from a number perspective. So that puts SU as high as fifth -- or sixth, since Notre Dam’e likely going to jump a team in the lineup somewhere.
However, this really is a best-case scenario, and probably calls for Syracuse to win all four remaining games. Other notable contenders for the spot include Louisville, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and perhaps Boston College. None of those names really stand out as top-tier teams, but that’s the state of the ACC this year.
So can we actually pull it off? Admittedly, a Camping World Bowl would be a major step, win or lose. It would be the best bowl game for Syracuse in over a decade and a half, and a clear sign the program was “back” to competence, at the very least.
But that’s also jumping ahead. We still have four more games, and need two more wins. I’m optimistic, and you are too. But let’s leave the Camping World Bowl thoughts for once we’re actually eligible.