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How to complete Syracuse football’s 2022 non-conference schedule

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We’re not THAT far ahead, when you think about it.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Recent developments (Western Michigan, Colgate) have completed the Syracuse Orange’s 2020 football schedule, which is great. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be done to get SU in a better place with scheduling.

Looking ahead, we have 2020 and 2021 done, and 2023 is done in terms of FBS opponents (the fourth foe will almost undoubtedly be from the FCS). But 2022 in particular has just two opponents scheduled — Purdue and Notre Dame, both at home — so two more are needed to finish the schedule.

There’s likely an FCS opponent in there in week one or two. So the final team will be FBS and probably be on the road (and potentially the opener). With two P5 teams already, we’re hopefully looking for a very manageable G5 to balance things out. So who might that be?

First, here’s who’s available and could use a home date...

  • AAC: Cincinnati, UCF, UConn, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa
  • C-USA: FIU, FAU, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA
  • Independent: Army, New Mexico State, UMass
  • MAC: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Ball State
  • MWC: Utah State, Nevada, UNLV
  • Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina, Troy, Arkansas State, UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe

That’s not an incredibly long list, but it’s one that gives us some options. Looking largely at geography as it relates to recruiting as the main draw, here’s how you’d group these teams in terms of desirability:

  • Top Tier: FIU, FAU, Army, Bowling Green, Kent State, Buffalo, Coastal Carolina, SMU
  • Tier 2: Cincinnati, UCF, UConn, Tulane, Middle Tennessee, UTSA, Ball Sate
  • Tier 3: Tulsa, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, UAB, UMass, Arkansas State
  • Tier 4: Marshall, NMSU, Utah State, Nevada, UNLV, Troy, ULL, ULM
NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Army vs Houston Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Top Tier

Shouldn’t need much legitimization. Florida is a talent hotbed, and we’re there every other year. New York teams are easy trips. Ohio’s another place where SU recruits regularly and SMU presents an easy opportunity to get exposure in Texas (where the Orange find talent from time to time). Coastal’s in there too but less so than the rest. Let’s pick one of these, please, with a home-and-home.

Tier 2

Cincinnati and UCF are knocked down a peg because of competition level, and UTSA’s not as valuable as SMU because of the city they’re in. Tulane is a podcast favorite but makes little sense. MTSU, Ball State and UConn make little sense and we’ve already played two of them recently.

Tier 3

Largely decent geographies with teams that make no sense.

Tier 4

Bad geographies that offer nearly zero benefit for Syracuse from a recruiting standpoint.

If it’s me, you’re pursuing Tier 1 options as much as possible since they offer the most benefit. They may also be the priciest, potentially, but you probably take that for the advantage playing in those states/cities offer. Army’s already on the schedule from 2023-26, so keep in mind you’d be getting the return date in 2027 at earliest.

Of the tier 2 teams — should you have to go there — you probably want UConn, UTSA and Ball State from a competitive standpoint. Syracuse has already chosen to schedule two P5s. Adding another P5-caliber team like Cincinnati or UCF seems like an unnecessary difficult endeavor.

No need to address the rest. We don’t want any of these.

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But of the Tier 1 teams, I’d opt for the Florida schools and Bowling Green over the rest. Dino Babers is probably unlikely to want to stop out his former employer in BGSU, but the Florida schools are fair game. Kent State’s not necessarily a great idea, if only because former OC Sean Lewis is head coach there and may know just a little too much about the Orange.

So who would you pick for the final FBS game for 2020? Any preferred matchups, or maybe you’d rearrange the tiers a bit? Share your own thoughts below.