As you know by now, SU’s up against a very tough schedule this fall, which makes a bowl game sort of difficult. But ESPN thinks five or six wins are within reach, so yeah, let’s listen to them this time.
Assuming Syracuse can hit the mark, which bowls could potentially be on the table? We run down each of the ACC-affiliated games below.
Orange Bowl (Dec. 30)
The top non-College Football Playoff ACC team gets slotted here to face off with Notre Dame or the SEC’s top team or the Big Ten’s top team. Are we going to be in this game? Noooooooope.
Camping World Bowl (Dec. 28)
The next-best ACC team plays against the Big 12 in this one. We’re not getting sent here either. Sorry.
Belk Bowl (Dec. 29)
This game’s in North Carolina, and usually features an ACC team from that general part of the conference, pitting them against an SEC team. It’s in the first tier of ACC bowl games, so for that reason, it’s likely out of the question for Syracuse this year.
Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 29)
Personally, would love to face a Pac-12 school out in El Paso. I’d probably go just for the hell of it. But the Sun Bowl’s another first tier game, so an Orange invite doesn’t seem likely in 2017, unless the conference ends up with multiple teams in the Playoff and/or multiple New Year’s Six teams overall.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 27)
The all-time Pinstripe Bowl champs have not played in this game since it was forfeited over to the ACC and Big Ten, from its former owners, the Big East and Big 12. There’s potential here because it’s the best chance for SU to bring a lot of fans to a game. But it’s also a first tier matchup.
Music City Bowl (Dec. 29)
Another ACC vs. SEC game, and the last of the first tier bowl games. We’d all take a trip to Nashville (though in December???), but this one seems to be just out of reach without some trickle-down help.
Independence Bowl (Dec. 27)
Whichever ACC bowl team is least appealing probably ends up here (if the league has enough qualifiers to fill all of its spots). No conference team is particularly close to Shreveport, La. -- and Syracuse may be furthest of all. It’s on the table, but not necessarily desired. Being sent here would likely mean SU’s second SEC team of the season.
Military Bowl (Dec. 28)
Pencil this in under one of the two or three most likely destinations for a bowl-eligible Syracuse team. The game’s in Washington D.C. and typically matches the ACC against an American Athletic Conference foe. Bowl organizers would love to toss us in here against UConn, one could imagine. That requires the Huskies to be bowl-eligible as well, though, so... maybe not this time.
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 28)
The likeliest destination of all for a bowl-eligible Syracuse team. SU, Pitt and Louisville are the closest ACC squad to Detroit, so bowl organizers will take any opportunity to grab one of them for the game. The stated opponent is the Big Ten, but in the case that doesn’t come to fruition, we’d be up against a MAC team, probably.
St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 21)
We only get to this point if all of the above games are filled AND both the AAC and C-USA can’t fill the spot. That last condition could probably be met easier than we think. Ideally, a team like Wake Forest or Duke gets sent here instead of us.
Birmingham Bowl (Dec. 23)
Handed to Pittsburgh unless they’re not bowl eligible. Another conditional spot, only if both the AAC and SEC can’t fill theirs here. The last think we want is to get tossed down to Alabama to face Mississippi State or something. But it’s certainly on the table.
Of course, there’s the outside possibility that 12 or 13 ACC teams make a bowl game, and none of them are in the top four, which would fill out each of these spots and force the Orange somewhere else.
But in all likelihood, we’re in one of these games. And by “these games,” we mean: Quick Lane, Military, Independence, St. Petersburg and Birmingham.