Ed. Note -- As has become tradition, TNIAAM writers will spend the week telling you why this year’s Syracuse football team will finish with a specific record. Predictions have gotten better as we progress, so hopefully you’re done being huffy by now.
Monday: 3-9 (John)
Tuesday: 4-8 (Kevin)
Wednesday: 5-7 (Brandon)
Thursday: 6-6 (Andy)
Friday: 7-5 (This guy Sean)
Let’s get the math out of the way before we get to dessert in a bowl. The Syracuse Orange getting off to a solid start is essential for a 6-6 season. ‘Cuse is only favored in three games, and that leads to some less than ideal projections. Bill C has them sitting at 4.9 wins, with a slightly above-average offense and below-average defense. That’s not an amazing recipe for a bowl game.
But I’m the optimist. And under Dino Babers, the Orange have been trying to build a system and team that works outside the margins, counting the cards to break the house just enough for a big payday. Breaking down this season’s schedule, I can see just enough opportunity for these jackpots, so let’s get weird.
at Western Michigan Broncos: I genuinely think this is the “tempo” game. The Orange open with a young, inexperienced defense against an offensive head coach who was formerly an SU assistant coach. A lot of the pitfalls that have been staples of the Babers era are present here, and a win, even if by one score, signals a huge confidence turn for this team early in the season. W, (1-0) (0-0)
Wagner Seahawks: Hell yeah. Eric Dungey goes off, we get Tommy DeVito and the Orange win by 40. W, (2-0) (0-0)
Florida State Seminoles: As much as I want to call this the upset game, I can’t see Florida State being banged up enough to have their talent on offense drop to a point where the defense can stop them. Obviously, Taggart is installing a new system, but he’s also smart enough to know not to turn the whole thing over year one in the first ACC game. It’s a loss, but a close one. L, (2-1) (0-1)
Connecticut Huskies: UConn isn’t good, yet. They may be respectable soon, but they aren’t yet. The Syracuse offense is too good, and even if the defense craters a bit, Dungey and Co. should be good enough to outgun UConn in the Dome. W, (3-1) (0-1)
at Clemson Tigers: LOL, nope. L, (3-2) (0-2)
at Pittsburgh Panthers: As John mentioned, the Orange haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2001. That’s a damn long time and this is the win that we all start realistically talking bowl game. Pitt’s offense is hopeful, but not really all that proven. Their secondary is trash. Syracuse wins a 60-53 game that we all love but a section of the Asylum comments start asking for Dino’s pink slip. W, (4-2) (1-2)
North Carolina Tar Heels: And those pink slips go away. The Orange come home versus a not-that-good UNC team. They should be better than their last place finish, but not that much better. At home with a full Dome? W, (5-2) (2-2)
N.C. State Wolfpack: I really really really hate the idea of N.C. State being good this year. I don’t think they’re all that hot and even though the offense is good, it’s not good enough on paper in any measure to make up for what was ultimately a destroyer of a d-line. I think the Wolf Pack beats ‘Cuse, but no one worries quite yet with five wins in the bucket. L, (5-3) (2-3)
at Wake Forest Demon Deacons: When will we start talking about Wake being good? Dave Clawson has won EVERYWHERE and he’s building something solid right now. I think this is the year they go from “solid bowl team,” to “going to upset a legit team,” and become 2019’s hottest underdog preseason pick. ‘Cuse loses bigger than we’re okay with saying, and the nonsensical call for the pink slips come back. L, (5-4) (2-4)
Louisville Cardinals: WE. GOING. BOWLING. A Babers Special (TM) comes versus a weakened, but still strong, Cardinals team. Much like the Clemson game, the Orange take an early lead off big plays from Dungey, and every time the defense caves, the offense responds. Another big Babers speech caps off an amazing night where we start crowdfunding a TNIAAM roadshow in Tampa. W, (6-4) (3-4)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Sorry. L, (6-5) (3-4)
at Boston College Eagles: Woof. L, (6-6) (3-5)
I think this hits all the marks of the Orange’s patented issues (1-4 finish to the year, poor defense losing games big) while realistic goals are met (Dungey’s full season offensive performance, taking advantage of winnable road games) to lead to what I would consider the best case scenario for Syracuse.
Who wants to dress like a Pirate?