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Syracuse football 60th in preseason S&P+ projections for 2017

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Not a bad start for the Orange.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Over on SB Nation, Bill Connelly’s initial S&P+ projections are up for 2017 and the Syracuse Orange start off ranked 60th overall, and 10th in the ACC.

For those wondering what goes into these projections, it’s a combination of three factors:

  • Two-year recruiting rankings (25 percent)
  • Returning production (56 percent)
  • Recent history (19 percent)

A look at how Syracuse did in each of those categories, then we can look at the S&P+ in total a bit more:

Recruiting rankings

Syracuse’s two-year rank is 62nd overall, vs. 59th looking at a five-year stretch. That may seem damning toward Dino Babers results, but a few caveats there: 1. The classes have been small, 2. the players are still getting better, and 3. A lot of those bigger numbers for the Shafer years are based on kids that either never made it to campus or aren’t here anymore.

Still, with luck, this number goes up in the next couple years.

Returning production

Here’s where the bulk of the Orange’s numbers come from. Syracuse was 17th overall in terms of overall returning production — 79 percent. That gets weighed down by the offense a bit (just 64 percent returns after the departures of Amba Etta-Tawo and Brisly Estime). But the defense returns the second-most talent in the country, at 93 percent.

If you wanted further evidence of not just how young SU is, but how young it has been, here’s what you need.

Recent history

Syracuse is 63rd in the five-year rankings, which sounds about right. This would still include the 2013 bowl season, so there would be a significant dropoff when this is calculated next year (unless 2017 replaces it with another bowl year and higher S&P+ marks).

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

This year

Those numbers equate to a ranking of 60th, largely boosted by the returning production. As mentioned, that’s 10th in the ACC.

It’s also worth looking at SU’s opponents and where they fall, because of course, this blog likes to discuss scheduling ad nauseum.

  • No. 3 Florida State
  • No. 4 LSU
  • No. 6 Clemson
  • No. 14 Louisville
  • No. 18 Miami
  • No. 27 NC State
  • No. 33 Pittsburgh
  • No. 64 Wake Forest
  • No. 76 Boston College
  • No. 89 Middle Tennessee
  • No. 97 Central Michigan

The bottom four obviously represent a dropoff, but they’re still not far from where Syracuse sits (especially in terms of Wake and BC).

More glaring is the fact that Syracuse faces seven of the top 33 teams, and five of the top 18 in 2017. You already knew the schedule was hard. This is just another example of how hard, and why we don’t need to schedule any tougher to “prove ourselves” or insert some b.s. metaphors about fire and steel.

Of those top-18 games, four are on the road. Anyone with designs on this season ending at 7-5 or better (or without significant injuries once again) is kidding themselves.

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Thoughts? I think 60th is a fair start. The defense returns a lot, but the group also struggled last year, so up to you how much that’s a positive. Recruiting rankings can also be deceptive. The Orange have a lot of guys who fit the system now, and that only stands to help us — star rankings or not.