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Which opponent is Syracuse football’s toughest for 2017?

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We know a bunch of them are difficult. But which is the MOST difficult?

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

As discussed many times here since January or so, the Syracuse Orange face one of the toughest schedules in the country for 2017. That creates a an uphill battle for Dino Babers’s team to get to six wins — something both he and John Wildhack have noted in recent months as well.

When looking at the individual games on the schedule, though, it’s difficult to really nail down which will prove to be the most challenging of all. Nonetheless, we give it a show below.

at LSU Tigers (September 23)

We talked about this one early today, and I gave Syracuse a lowly five-percent chance to walk away with a victory down in Baton Rouge. Home-field advantage is real down there, especially if this one’s being played at night (likely). There’s also the extra level of speed and athleticism the Tigers will possess, which the Orange just can’t match yet. If not for the large number of NFL Draft departures (eight), I’d be willing to put LSU right at the top of the list.

Clemson Tigers (October 13)

Clemson loses a lot from last season, but also has a lot of young talent ready to step up on the roster as well. Having this one at home will make it slightly less difficult. But still, the Tigers beat Syracuse 54-0 in 2016. That advantage doesn’t just disappear overnight (even with a healthy Eric Dungey for the full game this time around). Clemson’s another team recruiting rings around SU, so experience won’t necessarily do us the favors it should here.

at Miami Hurricanes (October 21)

Syracuse and Miami haven’t played since 2003 — a game (17-10 win for UM) that was also in South Florida. The Hurricanes are another group that loses a lot from last year (including quarterback Brad Kaaya), but Mark Richt’s recruited well and already has the team coached better than Al Golden ever did. They’ll be a fringe top-25 team, with the potential for more. Expect a win for Miami, but maybe not by the margins we see elsewhere on this list (though this one is right after Clemson...).

at Florida State Seminoles (November 4)

On the plus side, SU gets some bye week help to prepare for the ‘Noles. But looking at this negatively, FSU brings back nearly all of its defense, and enough offensive talent that this is still very much a mismatch. Deondre Francois looked impressive as a freshman last year, and he should be able to improve year-over-year. Syracuse wasn’t all that close to the Seminoles last year either, and that was up at the Dome. If Florida State’s in playoff contention (likely), they could be looking to roll SU in this one to make a statement.

at Louisville Cardinals (November 18)

Having Wake Forest in between this game and FSU is nice, but still, Syracuse will be pushed to compete on the road against a more talented squad. One caveat with Louisville, however, is that they don’t recruit at the same level as the teams above them. They still have Lamar Jackson, mind you. And the defense brings back most of its production. But we’ll see if the offense can maintain last year’s electrifying pace. SU’s defense should be improved, but we’ll see by how much (especially this late in a grueling season).

***

My vote’s with LSU by a hair over Florida State. But what about you? Which opponent puts more fear in you than any other on this schedule?

Poll

Which opponent is Syracuse’s toughest for 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    LSU
    (97 votes)
  • 12%
    Clemson
    (57 votes)
  • 1%
    Miami
    (6 votes)
  • 30%
    Florida State
    (134 votes)
  • 33%
    Louisville
    (148 votes)
442 votes total Vote Now