Ed. Note -- As has become (a beloved?) tradition, TNIAAM writers will spend the week telling you why this year’s Syracuse football team will finish with a specific record. Predictions get better as we progress, so hopefully you’re done lobbing scorn at us by Wednesday or Thursday.
Monday: 5-7 (John)
Tuesday: 6-6 (Kevin)
Wednesday: 7-5 (Steve)
Thursday: 8-4 (Andy)
Friday: 9-3 (Some guy Sean)
Syracuse Orange football fans finally head into a season with a lot of optimism and excitement. Coming off a 10-win season, the expectations are higher for the 2019 Syracuse team. There’s no doubt that this roster has a lot of talent but if you listen to Dino Babers you know they are still lacking depth in certain areas. Is this group ready to handle the pressure of being a ranked team in the ACC?
Perhaps they are but here’s a look at how Syracuse could end up 6-6 in 2019:
at Liberty Flames
Syracuse heads on the road to an unfamiliar opponent and puts together an uneven performance. Some clutch kicks from Andre Szmyt help the Orange escape with a close win. W (1-0), (0-0)
It’s very unusual for ranked teams to play two straight road games to open a season and the timing of the Orange offensive line is off as the new group works to develop chemistry. Turnovers are the difference as Syracuse gets caught by the classic trap game. L (1-1), (0-0)
Syracuse enters the first home game looking to get back on track but despite hanging with the Tigers for most of the game Travis Etienne puts the game away in the fourth quarter. The casual fans start checking the Beak and Skiff website to see which apples are currently available for picking. L (1-2), (0-1)
The Orange get back on the winning track in a big way as the offense tops 50 points on WMU. W (2-2), (0-1)
Holy Cross Crusaders
Syracuse could insert some members of the 1959 National Championship team in the second half of this one. We get to see Clayton Welch and Rex Culpepper take snaps as the Orange climb above .500. W (3-2), (0-1)
The good vibes don’t last as this one slips away in the 4th quarter. Syracuse’s red zone issues resurface and setting for field goals costs the Orange on the road in Raleigh. L (3-3), (0-2)
The Dome crowd is restless and uneasy for this Friday night contest. Syracuse’s defense creates a number of turnovers to get the offense prime scoring opportunities and the Orange get a bit of revenge on Pitt. W (4-3), (1-2)
The Seminoles are able to create running room for Cam Akers and the ball-control offense keeps the Orange from getting a rhythm when they have the ball. L (4-4), (1-3)
Returning to the Dome helps Syracuse get back on track. Tommy DeVito’s best passing game of the season paces the Orange to a solid win and puts them one away from bowl eligibility. W (5-4), (2-3)
Despite the loss of Daniel Jones, Duke’s able to create some big plays on offense while Syracuse continues to struggle away from home. L (5-5), (2-4)
Another uneven road performance has the Orange holding to those bowl expectations by a fingernail. Syracuse has failed to match last season’s turnover margin and that’s put them on the losing end of several close games. L (5-6), (2-5)
It doesn’t come easy, but Syracuse rallies to knock off a ranked Wake team in the home finale to get bowl eligibility. Moe Neal caps his career with a strong performance to lead the Orange to an important sixth win. W (6-6), (3-5)
In this scenario the Orange accept a bid to the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman where they will face the SMU Mustangs. Despite the disappointing result Syracuse making back-to-back bowl games continues to provide the team with extra practice time and hopefully Orange fans can see the big picture progress should this “prediction” come to fruition.
While this might seem way too pessimistic there are still concerns about depth in certain positions across the roster. We know Injuries are going to happen, but can Syracuse avoid getting hit with them in major spots like they did last year?
The Orange are replacing three starters on the offensive line and are currently testing out a number of different combinations in camp. Will this group find the right one in time for that group to develop the chemistry needed up front?
Can the defense stand up to some of the strong running games they will see without Chris Slayton’s inside presence and the tackling of Ryan Guthrie and Kielan Whitner?
I know that no one would be happy with a 6-6 record so let’s hope this is something more than a few of you will be mocking in early December.