Week 1 is ripe for overreactions and an existential crisis, and that’s because after a long offseason of player and coach turnover, we finally have new data and games to watch and evaluate. The problem with that is that the opening week’s games are also ripe for overreaction, as one game at the beginning of the season probably says less about the current version of your team than any other game remaining on the regular season schedule.
Our Syracuse Orange aren’t immune from that, either. It makes more sense to talk about “Why Week 1 is Even Happening” than “What Actually Happened Week 1,” and that’s not even me attempting to make a Hugh Freeze joke.
However, there were some things worth noticing. A four-game stretch makes up an integral part of ‘Cuse’s season: at NC State on a Thursday night off a bye week, vs. Pitt on a Friday night, at Florida State, and a home date against BC. Thanks to some aggressive and conference-pressured scheduling, we probably learned the most about these four teams.
- NC State had the easiest game, playing East Carolina — a team worse than Liberty according to SP+. The Wolfpack had almost the same margin of victory as the Orange, with an offense that looked comfortable with new starter Matt McKay. However, they will not have C.J. Riley for the rest of the season now. Not a terrible loss for them, but something to watch in a game that looks like it will be as close to a coin flip as we get this year.
- Pitt, your reigning ACC Coastal Champs, are not looking good. Granted, the Virginia Cavilers are probably better than most give them credit for, but Pitt fell all the way to 87th in SP+, with their offense ranking only slightly better than SU’s paltry production. Going into the year, Pitt was always going to be a mystery, but it would be safe to bet on any kind of under with them. It sure as heck looks like they’re going to struggle in conference unless they find something new offensively (which they did about mid-way through last year).
- The Florida State Seminoles host ‘Cuse in what’s one of the most interesting games on the Orange’s calendar. FSU had a hell of an opener, losing a big lead to Boise State in a game that was moved due to impending weather. Their coach blames conditioning, but here’s a more likely answer: Florida State was too conservative on defense against a true freshman QB, and got lit up. There’s plenty of time before the Orange play FSU, so plenty of time for Tommy DeVito to get his game in order, because it sure looks like Willie Taggart will start forcing more teams to to go big in order to prevent another loss like that.
- Finally, BC came out of this weekend looking the most impressive of all the opponents. Anthony Brown was able to make plays in the air and with his legs against a traditionally stout Virginia Tech defense. BC’s obvious weakness comes from a lack of pass rush or experienced defensive backs, giving up over 440 yards in the air. As mentioned above, this game will more than likely come down to DeVito and the offense having worked out any issues and clicking with some mark of efficiency.
Now, weeks 2 through 5 could roll through the college football calendar and everything I just wrote becomes meaningless. It’s part of why we like this dumb sport so much. But right now, this is all we’ve got. It ain’t great, but it’s something. And as we talk about ‘Cuse actually making an Orange Bowl, it’s worth diving into until we’ve got more games to analyze until the Orange square off with these ACC foes.