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What could Syracuse football’s September 2020 schedule look like?

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With a game left to schedule and the potential for a conference road opener, we take a quick look at options.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

After adding the Colgate Raiders to the 2020 football schedule, the Syracuse Orange need just one more opponent to complete the non-conference slate. There’s also the question of what to do with opening weekend (which needs to be somewhere away from the Dome) since that date’s currently blank.

As of right now, there are three non-conference games: at Rutgers (September 12), Colgate (September 19) and Liberty (October 17). If the fourth opponent is at home, it’s either September 26 or October 3, with the other date potentially serving as a bye.

Playing on the road or at a potential neutral site opens up the possibility for the other non-conference game to be in week one. There’s also the chance that we open with a conference road game, in which case that’s either Clemson or Boston College. While we’re opening league play with Clemson in 2019 already, the Tigers and Orange could wind up the class of the ACC for the next couple years. That would certainly motivate the conference to want to showcase the matchup, with week one being a prime opportunity to do so.

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Army vs Houston Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

If we’re planning a home game, commenter Orangeman: Fighter of the Nightman already highlighted the available teams: UCF, Army and Troy. The Knights already have two games against ACC opponents on the books with North Carolina and a road game at Georgia Tech. They derive little benefit from coming to SU, so they’re unlikely. Army has a pretty easy slate in 2020 and one open date remaining — though it’s not either of the ones above. Syracuse would have to toss that game onto October 10, October 31 or November 7. We play Army several times next decade, so adding another couple games (2020 plus maybe extending the existing series to 2027) could be an easy solution.

Troy’s already hosting NC State in 2020, so there’s an ability to schedule them to come to the Dome, but there’s no real benefit for either school from a recruiting or alumni standpoint, and we’d probably need to give them a return game or fork over a lot of money to make this one happen.

So from that selection, sounds like Army’s the best idea. If we’re open to road games (and we may be), the most feasible choices are as follows according to the initial list Orangeman pulled — though I also took a look for myself:

  • FIU
  • Georgia State
  • Louisiana Tech
  • Ohio
  • SMU
  • UAB
  • UL-Lafayette
  • UL-Monroe
  • Western Michigan
NCAA Football: Syracuse at Western Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Right away, you can toss the Louisiana schools out, and probably UAB as well. But FIU, GSU and SMU all offer up potential upside from a recruiting standpoint and we could get the home end of the series for a later date in the decade, further fulfilling scheduling obligations. Ohio’s open week one and we could potentially travel there to add to the existing two-game series plus an additional Dome game in 2025 or 2026. SU hosts WMU in 2019, but could travel back to Kalamazoo (where they visited in 2018) for 2020, then get the Broncos at the Dome in 2023.

The third option is the neutral site game to open the year, which I’m not necessarily a fan of despite the hefty payout. It needlessly adds a second FBS game in a season where Syracuse not only goes on the road at Clemson and could also be a legitimate top-20 team. You don’t want to put any obstacles in the way of meeting that potential, so I’d rather avoid a neutral game.

If we were to play in such a game, there is actually only one option (assuming we would be going the P5 route, which... we would). Northwestern is without a P5 opponent and is free in week one if we’re serious about the Prose Bowl journalism rivalry nonsense. All other P5s are already accounted for.

So to recap, the major September schedule possibilities:

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Boston College Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

at Clemson/Boston College, at Rutgers, Colgate, ACC home

Heavy on the league schedule early and assumes Army is the additional non-conference team — though that add doesn’t come ‘til October/early November. Another option in this same vein is tossing a bye in for week four, which isn’t ideal.

at Ohio/WMU, at Rutgers, Colgate, ACC home

As mentioned, with existing series going with these schools, could be easy enough to just tack on another two games, starting with the SU road game for 2020. The ACC home game for week four is a proper scheduling touch after reopening the Dome against FCS Colgate. A bye is an option here as well.

Northwestern*, at Rutgers, Colgate, ACC home

Tough sledding early here just from a competitive standpoint. A Northwestern neutral site game would probably get tossed to either MetLife Stadium, Soldier Field or maybe one of the baseball stadiums (though tough in September). Seems like a logistical nightmare. Still probably get an ACC home game early here, though again, bye’s in play.

There are other opponents that create additional opportunities in there too (FIU/GSU/SMU). But realistically, Army, WMU or Ohio are the three most likely bets for the last opponent, with the latter two providing a little more flexibility on “where” in the schedule that takes place.

Any preferences above? Think the NU idea should probably get the axe quickly, and just leave us to smart scheduling with G5 schools that also adds to future dates so we’re not in this situation as much going forward, no? Share your own thoughts below.