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)
Over the past few seasons, predicting what a Syracuse Orange football team would do in the preseason may have been based on shaking a magic 8-Ball. You could have had a 2-10 result, a 6-6 result, or what we actually got... several years at 4-8, with varying degrees of competitiveness. After last season’s 10-3 campaign, though, there is a bit more optimism for a positive result. Continuing on this week’s trend, we’re going to look at how the Orange can complete the 2019 season at 7-5.
at Liberty Flames
Syracuse starts the season on the road. Odd for a Power Five team. Even odder for them to be playing a team with a total of sixteen years of Division I experience to their resume. They take care of business against an overmatched Liberty side and start the year on the right foot with a win. W (1-0), (0-0)
The odd schedule start to the season continues, as Syracuse hits the road again, to Maryland. Less strange than starting the season away against Liberty, but not good either way. The Orange fall short after travelling two weeks to start the year and ever so slightly looking ahead to the Clemson game. L (1-1), (0-0)
Syracuse finally opens their home schedule with the defending national champion Clemson Tigers. After a gritty performance in front of the Dome crowd, Syracuse comes within a drive of taking the Tigers down, but doesn’t have enough in the tank and loses another heartbreaker similar to last season. L (1-2), (0-1)
The Orange host the Broncos for a taste of some MAC-tion as they welcome former assistant Tim Lester back into the Dome. Tommy DeVito and the offense find their stride in the friendly indoor confines and put up half a century on an overmatched Western Michigan side. W (2-2), (0-1)
Holy Cross Crusaders
Continuing on the simpler times of the non-conference, an overall team performance leads to the third win on the year, against the Patriot League Crusaders. W (3-2), (0-1)
Coming off the Fightin’ Byes and playing a Thursday night game don’t quite jive, and the Orange end up dropping one on the road. Ricky Person runs for a good few yards, behind a very talented offensive line that may be one of the best this side of Clemson, and the Pack pull of the win at home. L (3-3), (0-2)
After last year’s extremely disappointing loss to the Panthers on the road, Syracuse doesn’t fall flat again, with the win against an improving, but still mediocre Panther’s squad. W (4-3), (1-2)
Let me preface this with the fact that I don’t think Florida State is back. That said, they’re back on track enough to snipe one at home on the back of Cam Akers and the ground game, against a Syracuse squad that’s a little banged up at this point in the year. L (4-4), (1-3)
Dazz’s Daring Dudes travel to the Dome and are defeated. I don’t know why, but I needed to write that sentence. AJ Dillon is contained for under 100 yards, and the Orange offense works their way past an inevitably seven win Boston College team. W (5-4), (2-3)
Syracuse prepares a slight bit better off this bye week, getting some knocks healed up, travels to a young Blue Devils side that is starting to gel. Quentin Harris channels his inner Daniel Jones and puts up some numbers (primarily across the middle, taking advantage of a thin linebacking corps), and the Orange break on the start of the late season road trip. L (5-5), (2-4)
Heading on the road, the Orange pass rush is too much for the Louisville offensive line and the Alton Robinson / Kendall Coleman combination have an absolute field day on the way to a Syracuse road rout. Splitting a two game road trip with two toss ups seems more than feasible and this is the likely way they split. W (6-5), (3-4)
In what is yet another ACC Atlantic toss up game, the Orange finish their season on a high note, beating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons handily at home. A weakened Wake defense is beaten by a balanced Orange attack, Sean Riley and Moe Neal finishing their last game in the Dome with a bang. W (7-5), (4-4)
With a 7-5 finish on the year, Syracuse meets their expectations of a winning season and bowl bid. They end up moving on to the Pinstripe Bowl, because they haven’t been selected there in at least a year, thus #HonoringTheirContract.
The talent is there, returning two All-Americans in Cisco and Szmyt, an Elite 11 quarterback in Devito and a whole lot of pass rush quality in Robinson and Coleman. But there is still a dark side and you’re an injury or two away in a few positions (offensive line and linebacker come to mind) from falling back from whence we came.
A finish at 7-5 is on the low end of where the fanbase would like to see the season end, but is a very realistic take on what could happen. Pragmatically, the team should finish at least at this point, which is a weird statement to make after the last few decades of Syracuse football.