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Syracuse ranked 45th in ESPN’s Football Power Index for 2017

Dammit, Pitt. Just switch spots with us...

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still months away from the start of college football season, but that hasn’t stopped some initial rankings from coming out at various corners of the internet. Back in February, SB Nation’s Bill Connelly slotted the Syracuse Orange 60th in his S&P+ metric based on his formula for returning talent, recent recruiting, etc.

Over on ESPN, they use the Football Power Index instead, and that ranks Syracuse all the way up at 45th. We just missed 44th, but you can thank Pitt for taking the spot from us, unfortunately.

FPI projects Syracuse to go 5.6-6.4 this season, which could either be rounded up to 6-6 or down to 5-7, depending on your point of view. They have a 0.1 percent chance to win the ACC and a zero percent chance to win out. Their strength of schedule’s ranked 34th overall, which seems curious considering the difficulty of road dates (LSU, Miami, Florida State, Louisville).

Assuming the FPI populates the strength of schedule part of this, it sort of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy about how tough/easy a schedule is (same with all advanced numbers, really). Whenever you look at SOS numbers, it’s also worth considering who’s actually playing that schedule, too. Obviously Alabama playing the No. 1-toughest schedule (they’re not) is very different from Syracuse doing so.

Still, it’s worth looking at where our opponents sit in these rankings, compared to us. That full list:

4. Florida State Seminoles

6. LSU Tigers

7. Clemson Tigers

14. Louisville Cardinals

16. Miami Hurricanes

22. NC State Wolfpack

44. Pittsburgh Panthers

54. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

70. Boston College Eagles

86. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

89. Central Michigan Chippewas

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Six games against the top 25 is very difficult. Five of those being on the road, even more so. If you just base Syracuse’s schedule strictly on these numbers, there are only three FBS teams they’re significantly “better” than. Two are around the same strength. And then six are much better.

This gets back to why you need to schedule four wins in non-conference play for the time being. Because when you see a decent team facing six reasonable losses (and two more swing games), it doesn’t paint much of a picture for optimism.

Frustrated? Concerned? No this wasn’t just another excuse to talk about scheduling. But while we’re here...