There you were on Monday, minding your own business, when suddenly, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy hit you with this as part of his ACC football gambling conversation for 2019:
Dark Horse: Syracuse
The Orange are listed as only the fifth-best national title choice from the ACC at 200-to-1, but Syracuse – unlike the rest of the ACC – has shown it can compete with Clemson. Last year, Syracuse nearly won at Clemson and in 2017, stunned Clemson in the Carrier Dome.
There was more, but highly recommend clicking through for the entire account of things.
The Syracuse Orange, as McMurphy mentions, get 200-to-1 odds on a national title right now. And while that may not seem like great chances, they’re actually fifth-best in the league behind Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and Florida State.
Keeping in mind that the angle for Stadium’s piece is partly gambling-based, picking the Orange does seem to take on significant risk. While Virginia Tech, Miami, Virginia and others may all have greater odds to get to the ACC Championship Game through the chaotic Coastal Division, Syracuse has to compete with Clemson.
SU was really just a few minutes from getting themselves there in 2018. You don’t need to be reminded, but the Orange dropped a late lead against Clemson on the road. A win there would’ve given them the tiebreaker despite identical 7-1 league records.
In 2019, Clemson loses its defensive front and various other big names from a title team. However, they still return tons of young, blue-chip talent at key spots, including the offensive skill positions. Recruiting at a top-10/15 level every year makes it harder to drop off when losing top players — something that will be a bigger challenge for Syracuse next season without names like Eric Dungey, Ryan Guthrie, Chris Slayton and more.
Do you buy Syracuse as a darkhorse? Would you at least bet on them over the rest of the muddled sub-Clemson ACC? I’d argue it’s a longshot many teams in the conference are much better compared to 2018 (UNC, Louisville and maybe FSU and Virginia are the only candidates off the top of my head), so it’s certainly possible Syracuse could maintain its standing as the Tigers’ top competition.
It’ll all come down to that September 14 game between Clemson and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. A second Orange win in three tries would put them in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic Division, ACC and maybe more, too.