When the Syracuse Orange and Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders kick off this Saturday, it’ll be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. While the Orange have been around quite awhile, and are well-traveled enough within the sport, they’ve yet to see plenty of (relative) FBS newcomers.
Considering this first meeting, we were curious which other programs have never faced off with Syracuse. Some of these will be obvious. Others, not so much.
Starting with the power conferences, and heading down from there:
Big Ten: None
Big 12: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech
Pac-12: Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Utah
SEC: Arkansas, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M
AAC: Memphis, Tulsa
C-USA: Charlotte, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA, Western Kentucky (entire conference)
MAC: Northern Illinois, Western Michigan
MWC: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State
Sun Belt: Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Idaho, New Mexico State, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe (entire conference)
Independents: UMass, Liberty (2019)
So in total, that’s 53 schools. And excluding Middle Tennessee, two of them -- WMU, Liberty — are already on future schedules.
The reasons behind why Syracuse hasn’t played most of these programs seem obvious. Most of the C-USA and Sun Belt schools are relative newcomers to the FBS level, so there hasn’t been a lot of time to schedule them. Syracuse’s scheduling practices also didn’t necessarily pursue as many winnable games until recently, hence the lack of Group of Five teams.
There’s also geography, which plays a part for every school, but especially a mid-sized private school that’s not necessarily right next to an elite recruiting area. The Orange have only played on Mountain West program (Wyoming). Games against the remaining Pac-12 schools make little sense, even if you could probably make the case for (a loss to) Stanford.
Looking up and down this list, though, any schools you’d like to face in future seasons? Or any you’d like to avoid like the plague? As I’ve mentioned before, it’s very much worth getting Coastal Carolina, FAU, FIU, Georgia State and Old Dominion on the horn for recruiting purposes. But some other potentially fun series present themselves here, too.