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Football computing machines offer a rosy Syracuse forecast at the season’s quarter pole

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Syracuse is going in the right direction, but you may want to hold off on declaring the Orange as a title contender, weirdo.

Wagner v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The last time we published win projections from four football computing machines (S&P+, FPI, Massey, and Sagarin), Syracuse was staring at a year that would yield a 5-7 record. That may not have made the I Want Wins and Now! Society of Angry Internet Commenters happy, but it wasn’t a bad launchpad for a year in which reasonable breaks in Syracuse could generate inflated win totals. Those breaks — when viewing Syracuse’s existence in a vacuum and as part of the greater universe of college football — are starting to come to fruition: Having rerun simulations 10,000 times after this weekend’s games, a blended analysis of the four computing machines illustrate the Orange as finishing the season right around the 7.5-win mark:

Confirmed kills against Western Michigan, Wagner, and Florida State obviously lay the foundation for the projected win total, but the real driver behind the elevated win projection compared to the preseason is that the Pittsburgh-North Carolina-NC State-Wake Forest-Louisville stretch is bending in the Orange’s favor, five games that were originally projected to net Syracuse around 1.7 wins (none of those games positioning the Orange as the favorite) but now feature Syracuse as a favorite in three games with an expectation to capture about three victories:

The deltas in the table are against the preseason projections. So, the Pittsburgh, NC State, Wake Forest, and Louisville games have flipped from underdog to toss-up games, and the North Carolina date has moved from a toss-up situation to a hard favorite game. These deltas are pretty dramatic: Overall, considering the Orange’s full slate, Syracuse has picked up almost three wins off of its preseason forecast and the projected point spreads in its most important games have all moved dramatically in their favor (including two difficult road games). We’re talking about Syracuse being no worse than a 2.5-point ‘dog after Clemson and before the Notre Dame-Boston College close; that’s crazy considering that, at the start of the year, the Orange were projected as touchdown or more underdogs against Pittsburgh, NC State, Wake Forest, and Louisville.

The exciting thing about this isn’t just that Syracuse is projected to corral seven wins; it’s that, on a blended basis, the Orange have a 94% probability of finishing with six wins or better:

This is really happening. What’s really going to test this is how the Orange perform once Pittsburgh appears on the schedule: That’s the start of the season-defining stretch, and maneuvering that portion of the schedule with expected performance outputs should keep Syracuse on pace to claim its record-breaking third Pinstripe Bowl championship.