After the Syracuse Orange went 10-3 and were the second-best team in college football in 2018, it’s reasonable that expectations could remain high for next season. And for several media outlets, they are.
As is time-honored tradition, college football media outlets typically release “way-too-early top 25” rankings for the following season just seconds after the final whistle sounds in the national title game. Sometimes they even publish before the game starts. The #content engine never sleeps, so you just sort of have to keep feeding the thing after all.
Usually this practice only matters to us during basketball season. But after a top-25 finish for the Orange in 2018, we’re actually on everyone’s radar for 2019. Here’s a sampling of what college football thinks of the national runner-ups (do not dispute this fact):
The Orange will undoubtedly miss Dungey, who threw for 9,340 yards with 58 touchdowns in four seasons. But backup Tommy DeVito has a strong arm and can run, which means he’s tailor-made for Babers’ offense.
The Orange also got their first look at two more offensive weapons in the bowl game: running back Abdul Adams, an Oklahoma transfer, and receiver Trishton Jackson, a Michigan State transfer. Syracuse will have to replace three starters from a solid offensive line.
The Orange were 20th heading into bowl season and then beat a ranked West Virginia. S&P+ had the Orange 36th, and their best win was against NC State, and they’re losing QB Eric Dungey and some other vital pieces. But by process of elimination, they probably need to slot somewhere around here. Maybe Dino Babers will reward your faith.
Dino Babers’ breakout team certainly will miss four-year QB Eric Dungey, but redshirt freshman Tommy DeVito gained some experience this season, and he’ll have back nearly every key receiver. The Orange’s defense made considerable improvement from the year before, but it will need to replace some key pieces up front. Another notable returnee: consensus All-America K Andre Szmyt.
Dino Babers has the best-equipped team to challenge Clemson in the ACC Atlantic, something the Orange have proven the last two seasons. The Orange have to replace quarterback Eric Dungey and an experienced offensive line, but most of the skill position players return on a team that averaged 40.2 points per game.
DeVito saw quite a bit of action in relief of Dungey this year as a redshirt freshman and showed flashes of potential. He’ll have two acclaimed transfers, ex-Oklahoma running back Abdul Adams and ex-Michigan State receiver Trishton Jackson, with him in the lineup. The Orange also return a veteran defensive line and a young, talented secondary. The Orange could make some noise in the ACC.
The Orange had a breakthrough year in 2018 with a 10-3 record and a Camping World Bowl victory. Now it’s about maintaining its status as one of the best teams in the ACC. Syracuse will have to replace quarterback Eric Dungey but Tommy DeVito, who played in seven games as a freshman, appears to be next in line and he already almost 90 attempts in his college career. Defensively, the Orange will return First Team All-ACC safety Andre Cisco, as well as unanimous All-American kicker Andre Szmyt.
There will be a slew of senior starters lost to graduation, notably at quarterback and on the offensive line. As a whole, the Orange will break in a number of contributors recruited by Dino Babers to fit his offensive system and look largely the same along the defensive line and in the secondary. Syracuse might not hit on 10 wins but this is still one of the best teams in the ACC.
Dino Babers inherited a 4-8 Syracuse team and turned the Orange into a 10-win squad in just three years. Now we’ll see what he can do with a QB not named Eric Dungey -- who served as a four-year starter and was a mainstay under Babers. Tommy DeVito, who looked good when called to action this fall and has more of the pass-first mentality Babers favors -- looks like the next-man up.
Shun the Non-Believers: Athlon Sports, Orlando Sentinel, Sports Illustrated, 247Sports
Where would you peg the Orange for the fall? Feel free to make up your own top 25 in the comments below (as I’ll definitely do myself at some point).