When the Syracuse Orange and Wisconsin Badgers mutually cancelled their non-conference series back in December, we were relieved but a bit worried. There were few Power Five options left for either 2020 or 2021, and those that remained largely presented an even greater challenge than Wisconsin would’ve provided.
However, our considerations didn’t really include programs that could cancel existing series — which is exactly what the Rutgers Scarlet Knights did.
Source confirms Syracuse football has added a series with Rutgers. Orange will visit there in 2020. Rutgers comes to the Carrier Dome in 2021.— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) February 1, 2018
Rutgers got out of its ill-advised series with UCLA to get a home-and-home with its former Big East foe, Syracuse. While the teams were never really “rivals” before or while they shared a conference, the Orange/Knights series did become emblematic of a battle for New Jersey’s budding recruiting grounds.
Syracuse is 30-12-1 all-time against Rutgers, with the last meeting taking place in the Big East back in 2012. SU lost that game, 23-15 — a difficult defeat for the Orange because it technically cost us a BCS Bowl chance. Still, we ended up tying for a conference title on the way out. It was fine.
Though Syracuse has won the large majority of the team’s meetings, they’ve only won two of the last eight. The last two games were decided by a combined 11 points.
I have mixed feelings on scheduling Rutgers, admittedly, and you probably do as well. On the one hand, it’s a much more manageable opponent and one that doesn’t pose the same sort of short- and long-term issues for Syracuse that a Wisconsin/USC/LSU-type foe brings. But on the other side of the equation, it’s a lose/lose. If you win, you’re supposed to. If you lose, it could really hurt the Orange’s abilities to recruit New Jersey. The same goes for Rutgers, too.
Former Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood even previously avoided a series with Syracuse for this very reason.
But beggars can’t be choosers, and I’ll take the 2020 and 2021 games since we’re so late in the game getting those done. Here’s what the 2020 and 2021 schedules look like for the Orange now:
at Rutgers (Sept. 12)
Liberty (Oct. 17)
Albany (Sept. 4)
Rutgers (Sept. 11)
Liberty (Sept. 25)
One would expect an FCS team to be added to 2020, along with a home game vs. a Group of Five team. The 2021 schedule would be filled out with a road game at a Group of Five — probably the team we end up hosting in 2020.
Thoughts? Like I said, have never been a big fan of scheduling Rutgers, but also have few opportunities here beyond the Scarlet Knights. It’s nice to have schedules nearly done several years out. The Orange have just three openings (the three mentioned above) left between 2019 and 2021.