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Advanced stats say Syracuse vs. NC State is a must-win for Orange bowl hopes

Win probabilities are none too favorable from here on out.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the Thursday before the ACC opener, and you’re likely anxious. Last Saturday, the Syracuse Orange put in a valiant effort against LSU, but fell late. Syracuse is now 2-2, with a very tough schedule ahead. And this week’s opponent, NC State, is no pushover.

According to some advanced stat projections, you have every right to feel a bit nervous. Over at Football Study Hall, Bill Connelly’s numbers basically suggest that this is a must-win for any Orange bowl hopes.

The remaining schedule features six of the top 35 teams in the country (and four of the top 20), with Pittsburgh and Boston College being the notable exceptions. For reference, Syracuse’s S&P+ rankings is 51 right now — so at least it’s significantly ahead of Pitt and BC.

A win this weekend would add at least 0.65 (before positive adjustments are made for SU’s own rating) to the projected wins in the right column above. That drags Syracuse up from 5.05 wins and an unlikely shot at a bowl to at least 5.7 wins and a far better chance.

Obviously the Orange could still spring an upset over any of the other squads on this list. However, NC State is the most likely of the teams we stand a small chance of beating. Along with our odds vs. BC and Pitt, we’re currently given a 48-percent chance to beat Wake Forest. That’s a toss-up, and obviously that game is key too. But even wrapping up those five still leaves us short of the requisite six wins.

We’ll toss our predictions thread up tomorrow. But in the meantime, what do you think of the outlook above? See any other opponents outside of the Wake/BC/Pitt/NC State group as better upset bets? Share your own outrageous projections below.

(and apologies in advance to resident TNIAAM mathematician Hoya Suxa, who is probably fuming at my very basic look at win probability above)