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How should Syracuse football replace Wisconsin for 2020 & 2021?

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Syracuse v Northwestern

As you’re aware by this point, the Syracuse Orange football program is no longer scheduled to face the Wisconsin Badgers in 2020 and 2021. UW see, med to schedule over the series over the course of this fall, and the two teams announced the series was cancelled on Friday.

In many ways, that’s a positive for Syracuse. The Badgers just came off a 12-0 regular season, are a perennial Big Ten contender and would appear to be the exact sort of team a rebuilding program shouldn’t be facing.

But in others, we’re now in a bit of a predicament for 2020 and 2021. The ACC mandates every team to schedule a Power Five opponent in non-conference play each year. That list of possible matchups can include any Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC team, or games against Notre Dame or BYU. Unlike the SEC and Big Ten, the ACC does not count Army toward the P5 count.

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

With three P5 conferences at nine league games now, schedules getting set through the 2030s, and the SEC having few preferable options available for us... this is going to get interesting. And Syracuse is going to have to move quickly to avoid an even less-advantageous situation than the original one with Wisconsin.

So who’s actually available to fill these two spots?

NJNeer12 was incredibly helpful pulling together future out of conference availabilities from FBSchedules. While he looked at things through 2024 and even beyond, we’re keeping things focused on the two new openings for now.

Sorted from best (competitively) solution to worst, here are the Orange’s options:

BYU v Mississippi State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

BYU Cougars

Available: 2020 & 2021

If the Cougars are interested, this is the best solution for the Orange from a competitive standpoint, plus BYU has its own ties to the upstate(ish) New York area given the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ founding in Fayette. The issue here is that they’re already very limited on space and are very full up on P5 opponents as it is.

The Cougars have one opening for 2020, and already have six P5 teams on the schedule. They’d probably want an FCS opponent there to fill out the last date. In 2021, there are already 10 games on the slate and eight of them are P5 teams.

This is very unlikely to happen.

Northwestern Wildcats

Available: 2020

Non-Newhouse people probably don’t care about the Prose Bowl. And given the fact that we’ve seen NU four times since the start of 2008, there’s probably some exhaustion with this series.

But they have room (just one game in 2020 so far), Chicago’s a big hub for Orange alums and you’d all get to bother Sean at the game. The biggest issue is that they don’t have 2021 available unless Duke’s willing to push the first of four straight years with the Wildcats to a later season. You could potentially just get paid for the one-off and then worry about 2021 separately. Let’s do this immediately, please.

Oregon State v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Oregon State Beavers

Available: 2021

If Oregon State had hired Beau Baldwin as originally thought, I’d be a little more concerned. But with Jonathan Smith, there’s fewer guarantees Oregon State gets back on track -- or manages to be incredibly dangerous if it does. The Beavers are in a small group of P5 teams we’d definitely want to play (for now), even if it doesn’t make geographic sense to do so.

The 2021 game against Wisconsin was the home game, so you’d think we’d get OSU to come to us that year and then, toss them the return date in 2027. Coupled with the proposed one-off with Northwestern above, this is a viable solution that helps us check a few boxes at minimal negative cost. Plus, it’s a trip to Oregon in the fall. You’re not complaining.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Available: 2021

Under different circumstances, I’m against playing TTU since they run a similar system and have better access to the types of players needed for it. But we’re in tough spot. Also, we might have to go on the road and then hope we can get a home date from the Red Raiders later, since Tech’s already traveling to Houston in 2021. This wouldn’t fix everything, but if we could get them to come to Syracuse AND get the Northwestern game set up as described, it’s A solution.

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

South Carolina Gamecocks

Available: (maybe) 2020 & 2021

South Carolina faces Clemson every year in non-conference play, so they don’t need another P5 if they’d prefer to avoid. It would seem pretty unlikely they’d want to face Syracuse at all, and we don’t really need anymore exposure in South Carolina ourselves. However, we could get desperate here.

The “ABSOLUTELY NOT” Teams

If you thought Wisconsin was dumb, just wait until we potentially set up dates with Alabama, USC, Auburn or Nebraska (just like some of you still want!) in 2020. Or Florida or Georgia in 2021.

Recent results from Nebraska may indicate we want to face them, but Scott Frost’s there now. We don’t.

And while DOCTOR Gross would’ve absolutely signed us up for one-off bodybag games with USC/Auburn/Alabama in 2020, let’s avoid that at all costs. The only potential way it’s even enticing is if we get a neutral-site payday out of it. USC would be the preference there (selfishly), but the typical ACC/SEC working together stuff might dictate the Tide/Tigers.

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Again, this is why you schedule out very far ahead (as we’d admittedly done with Wisconsin initially), and why we need to be doing more of it to lock up our other future non-Notre Dame years. We have a lot of Army there, maybe out of hope the ACC extends the exception to the Black Knights too. But if they don’t (and there’s no guarantee they will), we’ll very quickly be screwed here.

Also, one has to wonder what the point of that scheduling subscription service is if it doesn’t flag Wisconsin scheduling over us... Let’s just hope Syracuse rectifies this quickly before we’re signed up for an assured loss in Tuscaloosa or elsewhere.