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)
If you’re new around these parts, I’m the guy who writes a lot about Syracuse Orange football and stats. For better or for worse, a lot of that revolves around S&P+ because it helps me beat the spread more times than not and it painted a pretty solid picture of ‘Cuse last year. I already went over some of those strengths and weaknesses of that team that S&P+ easily identified, and how they’ll carry into 2019.
Ironically, S&P+ thinks Syracuse has a pretty solid chance at 8-4 just based on preseason models. I’m inclined to agree. Here’s why...
at Liberty Flames: I get why some people are nervous about this game; Syracuse’s opening win versus Western Michigan last year was far but guaranteed. Hugh Freeze is a veteran coach with the know how to beat teams better than his. However, Liberty is still a few seasons away from being a true spoiler, and Dino has done a great job publicly talking about how important Week 1 is for this team. I don’t think ‘Cuse gets beat, and I don’t think Liberty seriously threatens. W, (1-0) (0-0)
at Maryland Terrapins: S&P+ has this game as a true toss up at 50% win probability for the Orange. Josh Jackson has a chance to make an early impression, and we don’t need to look at many stats to know that ‘Cuse has always had fits versus mobile quarterbacks not at West Virginia. All that said, I think this game is early enough in the season Maryland is yet at full speed with a new OC and QB, while Dino’s team knows what they need to do to win on the road. W, (2-0) (0-0)
Clemson Tigers: College GameDay shows up on campus and everyone has an amazing Saturday morning and afternoon. Saturday night rolls around and Dabo is reminding his team that the last time they were in the Dome, they got embarrassed by ‘Cuse. There is a 0% chance that Clemson is surprised by what the Orange do in the game, and it’s just as likely that Trevor Lawrence misses the second half of this one. Clemson wins comfortably, and Lawrence has his first Heisman game of the season. L, (2-1) (0-1)
Western Michigan Broncos: There’s a chance Tim Lester’s team could continue to beat up on Syracuse and make this an interesting game... but I don’t see it. The Broncos lost Jayden Reed to the transfer portal, a player my Western fan friend said was a big blow to their offense. I think ‘Cuse bounces back nicely and sets the tone for the rest of the year: If you’re not Clemson, winning in the Dome is next to impossible. W, (3-1) (0-1)
Holy Cross Crusaders: I’m getting married on this date (humble brag), and almost guaranteed a 4:30 p.m. ceremony runs into this game somehow. S&P+ gives the Orange a 98% chance to win, so that’s all we need to say while I have my groomsmen slip me play by play throughout the afternoon. W, (4-1) (0-1)
at N.C. State Wolfpack: Here’s a fun exercise: however confident you are that Syracuse beats Pitt next week is about as confident as you should be that they lose this week vs N.C. State, at least in the eyes of S&P+. Yes, the Wolfpack lost a lot of production, but they clearly knew how to attack the Orange’s defense last year and I would expect another shootout this year. Only this time, ‘Cuse comes up just short and we get our first Tommy DeVito growing pain game. L, (4-2) (0-2)
Pittsburgh Panthers: This is the most confusing team on ‘Cuse’s schedule. I don’t think Pitt was very good last year and S&P+ didn’t either. Nor does the system think that they’ll be much better (if at all) this year. And so, a home game for the Orange needing to steady the ship goes their way and the ‘Cuse gets their first ACC win of the season. W, (5-2) (1-2)
at Florida State Seminoles: Cam Akers is really good. Syracuse’s pass rush is solid, their secondary is solid, however, run stuffing is not their forte. If FSU’s line is anything better than shambles this year (spoiler, it should be), there’s enough talent on this roster to take advantage of favorable matchups. It’s not a Clemson level loss, but Akers runs wild and keeps the explosive Orange offense on the sidelines. L, (5-3) (1-3)
Boston College Eagles: If you ask a BC supporter, they’re going to say AJ Dillon will run all over ‘Cuse and the dudes will stuff out the Orange offense enough to win on the road. S&P+ says there’s a solid chance the Eagles roll into town with 4 losses on them already, staring down a stretch that should end their year on a five game losing streak. This could be the wheels coming off game, and I’m here for it. ‘Cuse wins big like last year. W, (6-3) (2-3)
at Duke Blue Devils: Here’s my 8-4/9-3 breaking point. It’s a toss up game according to S&P+. Do I think Duke is “good” “No. But do I think ‘Cuse makes it this far into the season without some injuries at key positions? No. This is probably one of the best defenses David Cutcliffe has assembled in his tenure at Duke, and it ends up being a weird dumb game we’re very mad we lost. L, (6-4) (2-4)
at Louisville Cardinals: Louisville is going to need several rebuilding years as they move on from the roadside disaster that was Bobby Petrino’s last few years in charge. While I do think they made an incredibly smart hire with Scott Satterfield, there’s just not enough talent on this roster to beat a ticked off Syracuse looking for a bounce back. W, (7-4) (3-4)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: S&P+ says the Louisville and Wake games have similar win probabilities, so I think based on the last graf, we should assume ‘Cuse wins this game comfortably for their seniors. Wake’s a perennially underrated team, but just not enough talent to keep DeVito and the Orange at bay. W, (8-4) (4-4)
Most projections have ‘Cuse sitting around 7.5 wins heading into 2019. Here’s the optimistic over of that range, with plenty of strong performances, but still showing some pain points on the road against improving ACC opposition. No matter what ‘Cuse’s record, I think there’s a very good chance they make improvements in the eyes of these more advanced stats models as the offense and defense fully morphs into what Dino envisioned when he came to Syracuse. Like most potential records for SU, this one likely sends them to the Pinstripe Bowl.